How Regional Parcel Couriers Work & Improve Your Ecommerce Business

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Flexibility, affordability, and responsiveness. 

That’s what ecommerce businesses look for in a shipping courier partner to help meet customer expectations. But with major shipping couriers like UPS and FedEx servicing hundreds of millions of accounts and consumers in the United States alone, how does a business owner get the service they desire from a courier partner?

Since ecommerce continues to grow rapidly — and major couriers face capacity challenges — online brands are turning to regional parcel couriers to help fill gaps in their shipping strategy. 

Regional parcel couriers offer several advantages for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, but the decision to partner with a smaller, local-based courier depends on several factors, such as company size, where your customers are located, what type of products you sell, your volume, and whether or not you partner with a 3PL. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • How regional parcel couriers work
  • The benefits of partnering with regional parcel couriers
  • When it makes sense to add regional parcel couriers to your network

What are regional parcel couriers?

Compared to global couriers, regional parcel couriers are smaller, local couriers that provide fast, affordable shipping and transportation services for businesses, including ecommerce brands. There are two major types: regional couriers that cover specific cities and/or surrounding regions, and those that have multi-state coverage within the same region.

How do regional shipping couriers work?

Regional shipping couriers cover more than 85% of the US population and specialize in short-haul deliveries (usually up to 500 miles but often much less). These regional couriers partner with businesses independently, as well as with 3PL companies like ShipBob, and deliver orders to postcodes within their network.

The goal of regional couriers is to serve a smaller geographical network to offer delivery services that are more responsive, cheaper, and faster. Sometimes, they can offset congestion with major couriers — especially during peak season. 

Top 4 regional parcel couriers

There are multiple regional parcel couriers in the US that coverage different cities, states, and regions. Choosing a regional courier depends on where you are fulfilling orders, where your customers live, what type of products you sell, and what additional delivery services (if any) you need to meet customer expectations.

Here are just a few of the leading regional parcel couriers that cover major areas of the US, from the East Coast to the West Coast. ShipBob works with CDL Last Mile Solutions and On Trac to reduce transit times, make shipping more affordable, and optimise deliveries. 

Regional courierLocations Shipping services
CDL Last Mile SolutionsEast Coast (NY, NJ, CT, PA, DE, DC, MD and VA)Same-day, next-day, and overnight delivery, plus white glove services
United Delivery Service (UDS) Midwest (IL, IN, WI)Same-day and next-day delivery
Lone Star Overnight (LSO)TexasMultiple same day and next day options, plus Saturday delivery
On TracWest Coast (AZ, CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA)Mid-day service, same-day ground shipping, and DirectPost® , plus “Collect on Delivery” services

4 benefits of using regional parcel couriers

Regional parcel carries can offer more flexibility, cost-savings, and support than major national and international shipping couriers. Here are the four biggest benefits of partnering with regional parcel couriers to optimise your supply chain

1. Lower costs

If you have a large volume of customers within a specific region, partnering with a regional courier can help reduce shipping costs for a bulk of your customers. Regional parcel couriers are able to offer lower shipping rates since they have lower operating costs and focus on regional contracts.

In fact, regional couriers can save ecommerce brands up to 10% – 40% in shipping costs compared to working with only major couriers like UPS and FedEx.

For weekends and peak season deliveries, major couriers often add surcharges, but some regional couriers may not add similar surcharges for local deliveries, which allows you to better control shipping costs. 

2. Faster delivery times

Most regional couriers specialize in next-day or same-day delivery, as long as orders are being delivered within their regional network. 

Many regional couriers also offer different freight shipping options, such as full truckload, less-than-truckload, and partial truckload to further optimise shipping costs and speed up transit times. 

Choosing a regional courier also helps to beat congestion with major couriers, especially during the busy holiday shopping season. During seasons with higher order volumes, adding a regional courier to your shipping network can help optimise your shipping strategy.

3. Customised shipping options

When you work with a regional courier, you’re able to customise your shipping options for more flexibility.

For instance, many regional couriers tend to offer additional, value-added services such as white glove for delivering luxury, high-value items or heavy items such as furniture to both residential or commercial destinations.

Some regional couriers, such as On Trac (servicing the West Coast), offer “Collect on Delivery” services in which orders are delivered and payment is collected on behalf of the shipper. 

4. Customer-centric shipping solution

Since regional couriers tend to hold a high standard across all deliveries, merchants often see a greater degree of customer service and responsiveness. For instance, some local couriers offer multiple pickup times on the same day, which provides more flexibility on when orders need to be fulfilled and shipped in order to still be delivered on time.

When does it make sense to use a regional parcel courier?

It makes sense to use a regional parcel courier if you are looking to cut costs in shipping and provide faster delivery for customers.

If you ship to a niche area and want faster shipping options, then partnering with a regional parcel courier makes the most sense. This way, you can avoid congestion with major courier, lower shipping costs, and speed up last-mile delivery

Of course, some areas in the US don’t have regional courier coverage. Be sure to analyse historical order data to determine where a bulk of customers are located before choosing a regional parcel courier to partner with.

When does it NOT make sense to use a regional parcel courier?

To optimise shipping costs and expand coverage, many online brands leverage a combination of regional and national courier partners.

However, if you’re in charge of logistics operations, adding additional shipping partners can add more complexity than cost-savings. A couple other considerations worth calling out:

  • If you ship orders through both major and regional couriers, then you might not be able to reach the volume threshold to qualify for bulk shipping discounts.
  • You may need to put some technology changes in place to accommodate including the ability to set up and route orders to the proper courier, along with generating their labels.

That’s why many online brands partner with a 3PL that have existing relationships with all types of shipping couriers, from regional to international, and negotiate shipping rates and pass the savings on to you.

With a 3PL, you can optimise your shipping strategy without needing to manage multiple couriers on your own and still offer more shipping options for your customers while also taking advantage of discounted shipping rates.

Tech-enabled 3PLs that work with regional partner couriers often automate and optimise your shipments to ensure they get delivered via the fastest, most cost-effective manner. 

How regional parcel couriers work with 3PLs

If you outsource fulfilment to a 3PL that works with regional parcel couriers, you can provide faster, more affordable shipping options for customers based on where they live and what fulfilment centre locations you ship orders from.

For instance, ShipBob has multiple fulfilment centres across the US, including several locations in the Northeast. One of our many regional courier partners, CDL Last Mile Solutions, specifically covers this region and picks up packages from all our Northeastern-based fulfilment centres.

This provides merchants the ability to:

  • Reduce transit times.
  • Offer fast, affordable 2-day coverage.
  • Offset congestion faced by larger couriers.

ShipBob partners with multiple regional couriers that cover different regions of the US, and each regional courier offers more than 20 years of experience and specialize in both B2C and B2B parcel deliveries. 

Since ShipBob’s entire fulfilment network is powered by our proprietary 3PL software, ShipBob will send an order to the fulfilment location closest to your customer to offer the fastest and most cost-effective shipping option. ShipBob automatically chooses the courier that can provide this, so you don’t have to customise or optimise your account yourself.

You’re also given access to advanced data and analytics reporting in your ShipBob dashboard that provides shipping insights and data to determine how to optimise shipping speeds and costs.

By partnering with a 3PL like ShipBob, you can worry less about how to optimise shipping and spend less time managing courier partnerships. This way, you can focus your attention on growing your business.

Partner with ShipBob

ShipBob is a third-party logistics (3PL) company that offers a robust fulfilment infrastructure, 2-day shipping, and best-in-class technology to provide online brands with flexible fulfilment and shipping solutions. 

“ShipBob has been a great ally as they have fulfilment centres all over the US, facilitating a 2-3 day delivery time for any customer in the US.”

Andrea Lisbona, Founder & CEO of Touchland

With ShipBob, you can expand your customer reach, stay competitive, and save on time and logistics costs

If you’re ready to outsource fulfilment to ShipBob, click the button to get started with custom pricing.

Regional parcel couriers FAQs

Here are answers to common questions that online brands have related to regional parcel carries.

How do regional parcel couriers work?

Regional parcel couriers work similarly to major shipping couriers but only cover a specific city, state, or region. This allows packages to be delivered faster at an affordable cost. They transport shipments, often by picking up from a warehouse, and deliver them to end consumers. Some regional parcel carries also partner with 3PLs that have thousands of customers and fulfilment centres within the regional courier’s network. 

Should you use regional couriers for ecommerce?

It all depends, but regional couriers do offer lower shipping costs and faster delivery for online brands. Merchants that have a high volume or concentration of customers in a specific area can take advantage of partnering with a regional courier to save on cost and speed up delivery.

However, keep in mind that working with regional couriers can push you below the volume discount threshold with major couriers. Also, managing multiple courier partners can add complexity to logistics operations, and there can be some tech limitations, from order routing to label generation. 

How do regional parcel couriers work with 3PLs?

Regional couriers work similarly with 3PLs as major couriers do. Regional parcel couriers are added to the 3PL’s courier network, pass negotiated discounted rates on to their merchants, pick up from 3PL’s fulfilment centres, and integrate their technology to enable orders that need to go through a certain courier.

That way, you can still take advantage of major couriers like UPS, USPS, FedEx, and DHL as well other regional couriers like CDL Last Mile Solutions and United Delivery Services, all without having to manage courier routing yourself. 

The courier used to ship an order is based on where inventory is located and the order’s destination. A tech-enabled 3PL like ShipBob will ensure the best shipping option is chosen based on standard shipping.


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Written By:

Kristina is the Sr. Director of Marketing Communications at ShipBob, where she writes various articles, case studies, and other resources to help ecommerce brands grow their business.

Read all posts written by Kristina Lopienski