Insights & News

What Is Domestic Shipping: An Essential Guide (Parcel And Freight)

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Posted On April 12, 2024

Today, with a multitude of carrier and transportation options backed by technology and connectivity applications, businesses can streamline their domestic shipping operations within the US. 

Let’s explore how you can leverage deliveries and costs.

What Is Domestic Shipping?

Domestic shipping refers to parcel and freight transportation from point A to point B within the same country via road, rail, sea, or air – or intermodally.

Depending on the type of shipment and delivery specifications, businesses can choose among regional and national carriers that best fulfill their logistics needs for each individual order.

US domestic shipping covers the 48, and many carriers also ship to Alaska and Hawaii.

US territories, like American Samoa, Micronesia, and Puerto Rico, are not considered international shipping destinations, though distance still affects shipping costs. In some of these regions, customs declarations, duties, and taxes may apply.

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Domestic Shipping Carrier

The US domestic shipping market constantly expands and changes to respond to shifting needs and fluctuating circumstances.

When choosing a domestic shipping carrier, there are various factors to consider. To name a few:

  • Coverage area
  • Carrier company size
  • Dedicated contact 
  • Multi-carrier delivery
  • 3PLs
  • Capacity solutions
  • Automated applications
  • Cost, speed, and service

Let’s have a closer look.

Coverage Areas: National And Regional Domestic Carriers

Shipping within the U.S. means parcel delivery a few blocks down the road and LTL shipments thousands of miles away.

Optimizing domestic shipping rates, capacity demands, and speed requires different considerations for every shipment.

Regional Carriers Pros And Cons

Regional or small, local carriers often provide greater flexibility in their regional route network, offering shippers affordable and fast (e.g., next-day) delivery options. 

They also typically accommodate smaller loads more efficiently.

Plus, regional carriers are said to provide better customer care than nationwide transportation companies.

Their major drawback is geographical limitations. Services are usually limited to regional shipments, while others may service longer distances in (costly) collaboration with other carrier companies.

Regional carriers may also offer limited customized transportation solutions. Plus, they are prone to local disruptions, like natural phenomena or strikes.

National Carries Pros And Cons

National carriers, on the other hand, have the means and resources to accommodate long or complex routes and specialized load requirements.

Moreover, they are typically equipped with advanced technology assets for intelligent route and transportation optimization that can significantly reduce domestic shipping costs and times.

On the flip side, some national carriers are less efficient with regional deliveries. Or, in order to achieve lower shipping costs, they may delay at the point of origin, during LTL consolidation, for example. 

National carriers tend to have higher accessorial charges for domestic shipping depending on the service area. 

Capacity Needs And Domestic Shipping

As for domestic shipping capacity needs, there are per-case solutions.

Usually, local, last-minute deliveries are better served by regional transportation companies, but for unexpected peaks and large loads, you may be better off with cross-country carriers.

Still, regionals typically necessitate a smaller volume of orders to guarantee space during capacity shortages.

Many businesses partner with one (or more) large national carriers to ensure their standard or long-haul deliveries. At the same time, they also cooperate with local carriers for domestic parcel shipping or low-cost opportunities.

Single Carrier Shipping Within USA

When there are set orders to ship with the U.S., many shippers choose the single-carrier approach. Coupled with a sound strategy, a contracted carrier can be the best choice for some cases.

Cooperating with a single carrier is a simplified approach to domestic US shipping for either cargo or parcel. 

In this case, you and your staff only have to deal with one partner and one representative. This approach, though, may be inefficient if you want to maximize your business’s potential and transportation spend management. 

Ensuring delivery consistency via a single carrier may be vital for your operations. However, being dependent on only one transportation partner often comes with delivery interruptions and delays during unexpected events.

Obviously, the more shipping orders and loads you give to one carrier, the better the price. But the fewer the options.

Multi-Carrier Approach For Domestic Shipping

The main advantage of a multi-carrier approach is that your freight or parcel deliveries can continue (almost!) intact during disruptive times. 

When unexpected events occur (pandemic, Yellow Freight bankruptcy, etc.), the supply chain’s vulnerability comes to light. 

Spreading the risk among multiple (local, regional, national) carriers mitigates potential negative impacts for your business and customers.

To enhance your transportation management strategy, you should consider different domestic carriers that are strong in different areas.

Leveraging multiple carriers can help you achieve competitive domestic shipping rates and optimized service quality.

3PLs For Domestic Shipping Orders

Many SMBs and large organizations work with 3rd party logistics providers or freight forwarders to improve their domestic delivery times and costs while saving time and resources.

3PLs can negotiate more favorable shipping deals for domestic and international deliveries. Because they typically deal with high volumes of multiple loads, they earn better rates and enhanced services.

Plus, they can offer a wide range of services, like warehousing or logistics project management, that elevate your supply chain operations for any e-commerce parcel shipping and freight transportation needs.

Intelligent, Automated Solutions: Optimizing Carrier Selection

Today, businesses can take full advantage of smart logistics solutions for their domestic shipping needs. Given the ability to quickly assess comprehensive data from various carriers, they can select the best fit for every shipment.

In domestic parcel shipping for e-commerce, intelligent platforms help you quickly compare rates and historical data of multiple carriers and align delivery times with customer expectations.

This is a great way to gain 5-star reviews and lower your shipping expenses.

As for cargo, smart logistics software allows shippers to identify the best carrier options. They can thus streamline their LTL shipments or have end-to-end visibility in long-haul transportation, among other benefits. 

Carrier combinations and possibilities are (virtually) endless.

Connectivity, automation, and experience are the key pillars of Flat World Global Solutions. We offer a smart range of domestic shipping and logistics services backed by our proprietary platforms for intelligent TMS.

From cross-country truckload services to e-commerce parcel optimization, we leverage data and options to offer our clients state-of-the-art solutions for every shipping need. Get started.