Comprehensive Guide to USPS Ground Advantage

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If you’re involved in the ecommerce industry, you might have noticed significant changes at USPS over the past year. In July 2023, the USPS introduced a new shipping service, USPS Ground Advantage, which simplified and replaced some longstanding services. This change has led ecommerce shippers to quickly adapt to maintain low shipping costs.

By leveraging a third-party logistics (3PL) provider like 3PL Center, online sellers can simplify their operations. This allows businesses to divert their focus to key growth activities, like marketing and brand expansion, while their logistics partner efficiently manages shipping through rate shopping for optimal rates on every order.

What is USPS Ground Advantage?

USPS Ground Advantage combines the former First Class Package and Retail Ground (known as Parcel Select Ground when bought through online services) into a single, cost-effective service for packages under 15.99 ounces and up to 70 lbs. It aims to reduce costs for both lightweight and heavier packages, and it is strictly a domestic service covering all 50 states, U.S. territories, and military bases abroad. Each package is insured for $100, can weigh up to 70 lbs, and utilizes USPS tracking for reliable monitoring. Notably, it’s the only service that accommodates the shipment of hazardous materials.

Top Features of USPS Ground Advantage

By merging First Class Package and Retail/Parcel Select Ground into a unified service, USPS Ground Advantage has become the most cost-effective option for shipping both lightweight and heavy parcels up to 70 pounds.

A significant aspect of USPS Ground Advantage is the inclusion of $100 of USPS insurance with every label, mirroring the insurance provision of USPS Priority Mail but at more competitive rates. This alignment allows ecommerce businesses to enhance their profit margins without sacrificing the level of protection for their shipments.

Given its affordability, USPS Ground Advantage is an attractive option for ecommerce sellers dealing in a variety of product types who are looking to reduce shipping costs and improve profitability.

However, it’s important to note that USPS Ground Advantage typically has slower delivery times compared to Priority Mail. While Ground Advantage delivery can take anywhere from 2-5 business days depending on the destination, Priority Mail aims for a delivery window of 1-3 business days.

Financial Aspects: Rates and Costs

This service offers tiered pricing based on weight and destination zone. The pricing structure is designed to favor lighter, closer shipments, making it cost-effective for varied shipping needs. Here’s a breakdown of how weight and zones affect the pricing:

  • Weight (not over) – Prices increase incrementally from 4 oz to 10 lbs across nine different zones, reflecting the distance and weight.

For ecommerce businesses, leveraging a 3PL like 3PL Center can provide access to lower-than-retail rates due to bulk shipping agreements, significantly reducing monthly shipping expenses. Additionally, understanding shipping surcharges is crucial as they can greatly affect the overall cost of shipping. At 3PL Center, we strive to minimize these surcharges through our negotiations with carriers, ensuring more predictable and reduced shipping costs for our clients.

Below is a table detailing the retail rates for USPS Ground Advantage on shipments up to 70 pounds and oversized weight, as sourced from the USPS Postal Explorer:

Weight Not OverZone
4 oz$5.00$5.10$5.15$5.25$5.35$5.40$5.45$5.55$5.55
8 oz5.705.805.855.905.956.
12 oz6.506.606.656.706.756.806.907.007.00
15.999 oz8.008.208.308.458.608.708.859.009.00

Ecommerce Benefits of USPS Ground Advantage

Ecommerce businesses can capitalize on USPS Ground Advantage due to its affordability and the inclusion of $100 insurance per package. For companies that frequently ship in bulk, the cost savings from utilizing Ground Advantage can quickly accumulate, potentially saving hundreds to thousands of dollars each month.

Additionally, Ground Advantage stands out as the sole USPS service that accommodates the shipment of hazardous materials, including used electronics with lithium-ion batteries and items requiring dry ice. This makes it an invaluable option for ecommerce companies shipping a diverse range of products, from lightweight to heavy items, ensuring cost-effective delivery across the United States.

Ground vs. Air Shipping

The rollout of Ground Advantage plays a crucial role in the USPS’s 10-year “Delivering for America” initiative aimed at reducing operational costs and promoting sustainability.

Previously, the First Class Package service depended on air transport, which is inherently more costly than ground transport. Due to the high costs associated with air freight, particularly for lightweight shipments, the Postal Service decided it was no longer feasible to continue offering this service.

With Ground Advantage, USPS now exclusively uses ground transportation, which allows for more cost-effective shipping options. By adopting this approach, online sellers can develop optimized warehousing strategies to maintain low shipping costs. For instance, by distributing inventory across multiple fulfillment centers nationwide, businesses can ensure products are closer to their customers, thereby minimizing both shipping costs and delivery times.

Insurance and Returns

Ground Advantage includes $100 of USPS insurance per package, providing a safety net for shippers. This level of insurance helps businesses mitigate losses from transit issues. Managing returns is streamlined through efficient systems provided by 3PL partners like 3PL Center, which handle returns processing and restocking. The use of USPS tracking helps ensure packages are monitored throughout their return journey.

Comparing USPS Ground Advantage to Other Carriers

When considering ground shipping options, it’s important to compare USPS Ground Advantage with services from UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Each carrier offers distinct features regarding delivery timeframes, maximum weight limits, and insurance coverage, making it vital to select the service that best aligns with your shipping strategy.

The three major U.S. shipping carriers—UPS, USPS, and FedEx—along with DHL, all provide ground-based shipping services. These services are tailored to meet various logistics needs, offering a range of features that cater to different shipping requirements. Below is a table that outlines the key features of the ground shipping services offered by UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL. This comparison aims to provide a clear view of what each service offers, helping you choose the right option for your shipping needs.

CarrierGround ServiceDelivery TimeframesMaximum WeightInsurance or Carrier Liability
USPSUSPS Ground Advantage2-5 business days70lbs$100 included
UPSUPS Ground1-5 business days150lbs$100 included
FedExFedEx Ground1-5 business days150lbs$100 included
DHLGround (for SmartMail Parcel & SmartMail Parcel Plus)3-8 business daysUp to 16oz for Parcel & 25lbs Parcel Plus$100 included

Ground Advantage vs. USPS Priority Mail: A Detailed Comparison

Ground Advantage and USPS Priority Mail are two distinct shipping services offered by USPS, each tailored to meet different shipping needs.

Cost and Speed: Ground Advantage is typically more cost-effective than Priority Mail, making it a preferred option for budget-conscious shippers. However, it trades cost for speed, as its delivery timeframes are slightly longer, ranging from 2-5 business days, compared to Priority Mail’s faster 1-3 day delivery estimate.

Insurance Coverage: Both services provide built-in insurance. Each Ground Advantage shipment comes with $100 of built-in protection, which is consistent across all shipments. In contrast, Priority Mail labels start with $50 of insurance per shipment, but this can increase to $100 per label when utilizing discounted USPS rates through partnerships with companies like 3PL Center.

Hazardous Materials: One of the significant differences between the two services is the handling of hazardous materials. Ground Advantage is the only USPS service that allows for the shipment of hazardous goods, making it indispensable for businesses that need to ship these types of items. Priority Mail does not support hazardous material shipments.

Flat Rate Options: Priority Mail offers various flat rate options, such as the Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box, which allows shippers to send packages for a fixed price regardless of the distance traveled. This feature is absent in Ground Advantage, which does not provide any flat rate shipping options.

Below is a table summarizing the key differences and features of both USPS Ground Advantage and USPS Priority Mail:

ServiceMaximum WeightHazmat ShippingFlat Rate OptionsDelivery TimeframeInsurance
USPS Ground Advantage70 poundsAvailableUnavailable2-5 business days$100 per label
USPS Priority Mail70 poundsUnavailableAvailable1-3 business days$50 per label ($100 with online shipping software)

This comparison highlights the distinct advantages and limitations of each service, allowing shippers to make informed decisions based on their specific shipping requirements and priorities.

Conclusion: Maximizing Benefits with 3PL Center

USPS Ground Advantage is a pivotal development in USPS’s services, designed to be both cost-effective and reliable for shipping a range of package sizes. By partnering with 3PL Center, ecommerce businesses can not only take advantage of negotiated carrier rates for lower shipping costs but also utilize an advanced warehouse management system. Our system offers comprehensive tools for inventory management, including tracking, reporting, and rate shopping, enhancing operational efficiency and supporting business growth. Additionally, 3PL Center maintains multiple warehouse locations strategically positioned across the country, further minimizing shipping costs and optimizing delivery times for your shipments. For more information on how 3PL Center can enhance your shipping solutions, please contact us today.


USPS Ground Advantage FAQs

Can I track my USPS Ground Advantage shipments?

Yes, USPS Ground Advantage shipments can be tracked using the USPS tracking system. This feature allows senders and recipients to monitor their package’s progress from dispatch to delivery, ensuring transparency and peace of mind throughout the shipping process.

Are there any volume discounts available for USPS Ground Advantage?

USPS offers volume discounts for businesses that frequently ship large quantities. To qualify for these discounts, businesses typically need to meet certain volume thresholds. It’s recommended to contact USPS directly or consult with your 3PL provider, like 3PL Center, to learn about specific requirements and potential savings.

Can USPS Ground Advantage be used for international shipping?

No, USPS Ground Advantage is a domestic-only service. It covers all 50 states, U.S. territories, and military bases abroad, but does not support international shipping. For international needs, businesses will need to explore other USPS services or discuss alternatives with their 3PL provider.


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