Everything You Need to Know About USPS Ground Advantage

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If you’re in the ecommerce industry, you’ve probably noticed that USPS has undergone a lot of significant changes in the last year.

Notably, the Postal Service introduced a new shipping service called USPS Ground Advantage in July 2023 and got rid of some mainstay services that were fixtures at Post Offices for ages. Since then, we at Shipping School have found many ecommerce shippers rushing to keep up with these changes to ensure that their shipping costs consistently remain as low as possible. 

By turning over fulfilment to a partner like ShipBob, online sellers can rest easy knowing that a full-service fulfilment partner always “rate shops” for the best available shipping services for each order that gets imported into their system. This way, business owners can divert their attention away from warehousing and shipping to focus on other pressing matters, such as marketing and growing their brand.

Keep reading to learn more about USPS’s new Ground Advantage shipping option, core benefits, rates, and more.

What is the new USPS Ground Advantage? 

USPS Ground Advantage is a new shipping service provided by the United States Postal Service. To form USPS Ground Advantage, the Postal Service consolidated two of its previous shipping services, First Class Package and Retail Ground (named Parcel Select Ground when purchasing postage through online shipping software services), to create an affordable “catch-all” option for packages less than 15.99 ounces that previously would have travelled via First Class Package, as well as packages up to 70 lbs that would have otherwise travelled via Retail Ground. In essence, it allows USPS customers to save more money on both their lightweight and heavier packages! 

USPS Ground Advantage is a domestic-only service, which means USPS offers it for parcels travelling to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. It’s also available for shipping to U.S. territories and shipping to U.S. military bases located overseas. Each Ground Advantage label includes $100 of USPS insurance, and each package is restricted to a total weight of 70 pounds. Lastly, Ground Advantage is the only available USPS service for sending hazardous materials.   

Core features of USPS Ground Advantage 

With the consolidation of First Class Package and Retail/Parcel Select Ground into a single service, USPS Ground Advantage is now the most affordable USPS service for both lightweight and heavy packages up to 70 pounds.

Another key feature of USPS Ground Advantage is the $100 of built-in USPS insurance every label comes with (similar to how all USPS Priority Mail labels function). Since this service offers the same level of shipping insurance as Priority Mail with much more affordable rates, more ecommerce sellers are choosing it to maximise their margins while receiving the same level of built-in protection. 

Since Ground Advantage is now the most affordable shipping service USPS offers for both lightweight and heavy parcels, ecommerce sellers of all kinds of products are positioned to switch to this service to maximise their profit margins. 

However, USPS Ground Advantage is a slower service compared to Priority Mail. Delivery timeframes for Ground Advantage shipments can vary anywhere from 2-5 business days (depending on how far your package needs to travel) while Priority Mail features estimated delivery of 1-3 business days. 

The financial implications: rates and costs

The pricing for weight-based Ground Advantage is zone-based and broken down into four separate tiers for lightweight packages (weighing up to 15.99 ounces). After this, prices are based on a per-pound basis. In simple terms, this means that the lighter your package is and the less distance it has to travel, the cheaper it will be to ship it with Ground Advantage. On the other hand, the more your package weighs and the further it needs to travel, the more it will cost to ship.

Below is a table showing the retail prices of USPS Ground Advantage for shipments up to 10 pounds, based on the USPS Postal Explorer:

Weight
(not over)
Zone 1 Zone 2 Zone 3 Zone 4 Zone 5 Zone 6 Zone 7 Zone 8 Zone 9
4 oz $4.75 $4.85 $4.90 $5.00 $5.05 $5.10 $5.15 $5.25 $5.25
8 oz
$5.40 $5.50 $5.55 $5.60 $5.65 $5.70 $5.75 $5.85 $5.85
12 oz $6.15 $6.25 $6.30 $6.35 $6.40 $6.45 $6.55 $6.65 $6.65
15.99 oz $7.60 $7.75 $7.85 $8.00 $8.15 $8.25 $8.40 $8.55 $8.55
1 lb $7.60 $7.75 $7.85 $8.00 $8.15 $8.25 $8.40 $8.55 $8.55
2 lbs $8.50 $9.00 $9.55 $10.25 $11.00 $11.80 $12.90 $14.90 $14.90
3 lbs $8.85 $9.50 $9.95 $10.80 $11.80 $12.90 $14.90 $17.65 $17.65
4 lbs $9.55 $10.00 $10.70 $11.65 $12.85 $14.30 $16.35 $19.00 $19.00
5 lbs $10.20 $10.65 $11.40 $12.45 $13.75 $15.40 $17.65 $20.50 $20.50
6 lbs $10.60 $10.95 $11.75 $12.95 $14.55 $16.55 $19.25 $22.40 $22.40
7 lbs $11.10 $11.40 $12.20 $13.55 $15.40 $17.80 $20.75 $24.25 $24.25
8 lbs $11.55 $11.80 $12.55 $14.05 $16.20 $19.05 $22.60 $26.35 $26.35
9 lbs $12.00 $12.25 $12.90 $14.55 $17.00 $20.30 $24.40 $28.40 $28.40
10 lbs $12.70 $13.00 $13.70 $15.45 $18.15 $21.85 $26.55 $31.45 $31.45

Through ShipBob’s partnership with USPS, shippers can access discounted rates that are lower than the retail rates listed in the table above. Taking advantage of these pre-negotiated discounts is especially critical for ecommerce businesses shipping out packages in high volumes every month.    

Benefits of USPS Ground Advantage for ecommerce 

Ecommerce businesses can benefit from USPS Ground Advantage by taking advantage of its low cost and $100 of insurance per package. For a business sending bulk packages every month, the amount of savings incurred by switching to Ground Advantage can add up to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per month.  

Moreover, Ground Advantage is the only shipping option that USPS provides for shipping hazardous materials such as shipments containing used electronics with lithium-ion batteries, or shipments containing dry ice. Since this is the case, ecommerce businesses of all kinds can enjoy the benefits of lower-cost shipping for their lightweight and heavy packages going to customers anywhere in the United States. 

The ground vs. air dynamic 

The introduction of Ground Advantage is a key part of the Postal Service’s 10-year Delivering for America plan to cut costs and turn itself into a sustainable operation. 

First Class Package was an air-based service, which meant that USPS relied on commercial planes to transport these packages. Air transportation is more expensive than ground transportation by its nature, and continuing to offer First Class Package service for lightweight shipments resulted in costs that USPS couldn’t justify going forward. 

Since USPS relies solely on ground transportation for Ground Advantage shipments, online sellers can work with ShipBob to figure out the most optimised strategy for warehousing their products to keep their costs low. In other words, ShipBob customers can capture lower shipping costs by keeping their products in more than one fulfilment centre throughout the country. This way, products are never too far away from their final destinations – which helps reduce shipping costs and transit times. 

Comparing insurance and return policies 

With $100 of USPS insurance per Ground Advantage label, shippers can rest assured knowing they can file a claim if their package gets lost in transit or arrives with damaged or insufficient contents. Receiving up to $100 back from USPS in these instances can help ecommerce businesses minimise losses and send new replacement products for any returned items. 

Speaking of returns, ShipBob works with its clients to provide a seamless returns management process for customers, no matter where in the U.S. they are located. Return labels are easily generated in the ShipBob dashboard and all returns are sent to ShipBob locations, where they are processed and items are either re-inventoried or disposed of (if the merchant so chooses). 

Ground Advantage vs. other shipping methods 

The three major U.S. shipping couriers – UPS, USPS, and FedEx – all offer ground-based shipping services, along with DHL. Below is a table comparing the key features of each ground shipping service from all four aforementioned couriers.

CourierGround ServiceDelivery TimeframesMaximum WeightInsurance or Courier 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

While parsing through all of these services can be tedious and time-consuming, ShipBob actively rate shops and chooses the best available services based on the weight and dimensions of each imported order, along with how far it needs to go. This is done for every single order that gets automatically imported into the ShipBob system.

Ground Advantage vs. USPS Priority Mail 

Ground Advantage is a more affordable service than USPS Priority Mail, though it is slightly slower. While Priority Mail’s estimated delivery timeframes are 1-3 days, USPS gives an estimated delivery time of 2-5 business days for Ground Advantage shipments. 

Both options include built-in insurance, with each Ground Advantage label coming with $100 of built-in protection, and each Priority Mail label comes with $50 of insurance (this value increases to $100 per Priority Mail label when you partner with a company like ShipBob which accesses discounted USPS rates). 

Some differences between the two services are that hazardous materials aren’t accepted for Priority Mail shipments, while Ground Advantage is the only option USPS provides for parcels containing hazardous goods. Additionally, Priority Mail offers flat rate options such as the Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box that allows shippers to pay a flat fee to ship the box, no matter how far it needs to travel. Ground Advantage does not. 

Below is a table showing a comparison of the key features between the two USPS services: 

Service Maximum Weight Hazmat Shipping Flat Rate Options Delivery Timeframe Insurance
USPS Ground Advantage 70 pounds Available Unavailable 2-5 business days $100 per label
USPS Priority Mail 70 pounds Unavailable Available 1-3 business days $50 per label ($100 with online shipping software)

How ShipBob fits into the USPS Ground Advantage narrative 

As a full-service fulfilment solution, ShipBob is uniquely positioned to provide its customers the best Ground Advantage rates. With multiple warehouse locations throughout the United States, ShipBob works with its customers to keep their products as close to their end recipients as possible, therefore minimising shipping costs and transit times.

Shipbob’s edge in ecommerce fulfilment 

The access to discounted rates from services like USPS Ground Advantage is only part of ShipBob’s equation. ShipBob’s true edge is its ability to provide warehousing and automatic fulfilment of your orders. While we at Shipping School generally recommend nascent ecommerce businesses to keep fulfilment in-house to learn the ropes and master that aspect of the business, ShipBob is the premier option for a third-party logistics provider due to its strategic positioning of warehouses throughout the world (with locations in the US, Canada, the UK, EU, and Australia). 

There are no order minimums, and most orders are fulfilled on the same day they are placed (provided that the order was imported into ShipBob’s system before the cut-off time of having orders imported into the ShipBob dashboard by 12:00 pm local time of the warehouse fulfilling it).

On top of that, ShipBob integrates with all major selling platforms and marketplaces such as Amazon, Shopify, WooCommerce, eBay, Squarespace, BigCommerce, Square, TikTok Shop, and more. See a full list of ShipBob’s integration partners

Harnessing Ground Advantage for client benefit 

For orders ShipBob fulfils in the United States, ecommerce brands can leverage USPS Ground Advantage as a courier service as part of its standard shipping options (one of many in its diverse courier network).

Conclusion

USPS Ground Advantage is the Postal Service’s new shipping service introduced in July 2023 which combines aspects of the previously-offered First Class Package and Retail/Parcel Select Ground. While it is a slower service than Priority Mail, it is the most affordable USPS shipping service for both lightweight and heavy packages weighing up to 70 pounds, and every label comes with $100 of built-in USPS insurance. Since it relies on ground-based transportation, Ground Advantage is also the only option for individuals and businesses sending packages containing hazardous materials. 

ShipBob’s commitment to staying updated with shipping advancements such as the rollout of Ground Advantage ensures that its clients can always access the most affordable and reliable  shipping solutions without having to navigate the ever-changing logistics landscape themselves. 

By working with a full-service 3PL like ShipBob, ecommerce businesses are positioned to maximise their profit margins through affordable shipping solutions while reaching their customers faster through optimised warehousing locations. 

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USPS Ground Advantage FAQs

Below are answers to the most common questions about USPS Ground Advantage.

How is USPS Ground Advantage different from USPS Priority Mail?

USPS Ground Advantage is different from Priority Mail as it is strictly a ground-based service, meaning that USPS transports all Ground Advantage parcels via long-range-haul trucks and their delivery vans. Priority Mail, on the other hand, is an air-based service, which means that USPS transports these packages via commercial flights until they reach the later stages of their journey. 

Since this is the case, Priority Mail will always be more expensive than USPS Ground Advantage–though it’s often faster, with a delivery timeframe of 1-3 business days compared to Ground Advantage’s estimated timeframe of 2-5 business days.  

What benefits does USPS Ground Advantage offer for ecommerce businesses?

Ecommerce businesses can benefit from USPS Ground Advantage by taking advantage of even more affordable rates and reliable delivery to all 50 U.S. states, along with U.S. Territories and Military Addresses. Ground Advantage also allows businesses to transport hazardous materials cheaply and to enjoy the protection of $100 of USPS coverage per label.  

How does ShipBob plan to incorporate USPS Ground Advantage?

Through its partnership with USPS, ShipBob automatically includes USPS Ground Advantage into the suite of shipping services it offers its customers! By working with ShipBob to warehouse and fulfil your orders, you’ll be able to select “USPS Ground Advantage” from the shipping services to choose from. 

Since Ground Advantage offers cheaper rates for shorter distances, shippers can keep their costs low by warehousing their goods in multiple ShipBob fulfilment centres. This way, their packages never have to travel far to reach their customers. 

Does USPS Ground Advantage offer international shipping?

USPS Ground Advantage is a domestic-only service and is available for shipments going to all 50 U.S. states, plus U.S. Territories and Military Addresses. Ground Advantage is not available for international destinations outside the United States. 

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Written By:

Rockwell Sands is a shipping guru and a wizard with words. Over the years, he has worked in various ecommerce startups and learned the ins and outs of shipping properly... and not. After growing frustrated with all of the inaccurate (and boring) shipping resources out there, he decided to combine his love of writing and shipping into educational articles on Shipping School. He's on a mission to shed light on shipping, so small businesses can succeed and hopes for Shipping School to become the go-to resource for new shippers to get any information they need, when they need it.

Read all posts written by Rockwell Sands