UK Shipping Explained: How to Choose the Best Carrier

Verified & Reviewed

Written By

Written By

Subscribe for More

Domestic shipping has its perks:

  • It’s affordable.
  • There are several carrier options to choose from.
  • It’s much easier to navigate than international shipping.

But establishing a shipping strategy for domestic orders still takes some planning to ensure you meet customer expectations around fast, reliable shipping.

In this article, you will learn the steps to developing a domestic shipping strategy that’s fast, reliable, and affordable. 

What is domestic shipping?

Domestic shipping refers to shipping a package via a carrier within a country’s borders.

For example, in the UK, this includes shipments sent within all England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (plus the Highlands and Islands). There are many domestic shipping couriers to choose from in the UK. Oftentimes, businesses use a combination of couriers and shipping services to meet customer needs in terms of price-points and flexibility.

Domestic shipping couriers offer domestic shipping options based on what you’re sending, volume, and how quickly the recipient needs their shipments.

Choosing the right domestic shipping carrier for your UK shipping needs

Domestic shipping couriers offer a variety of shipping options based on package size, delivery speed, and the contents of what’s being sent.

For instance, in the UK, Royal Mail offers a variety of shipments for all many of parcel sizes, whether they fit through a letterbox or are a more traditional larger parcel. With options for 24 hour delivery, 48 hour delivery, tracked vs untracked, and signature delivery options all available.

The major UK shipping couriers are Royal Mail, DPD, and Evri, which all offer their own set of options and benefits based on what your shipping needs are.

DHL, an international carrier, also offers UK domestic shipping for online businesses that ship a high volume of orders each month.

Across Europe, each countries national postal service has an agreement with other national postal couriers to handle their shipments. For example shipping a parcel from the UK to Spain: if you ship with Royal Mail, they will handle the parcel journey through the UK. Once the parcel arrives in Spain, Spain’s national postal service, Correos, will handle the final delivery to the customer.

Overall, here are an example of the average prices of UK shipping a 2kg small parcel:*

SpeedRoyal MailEvriDPD
1 day£3.95£5.33£25.73
2-3 days £2.85£4.34£20.07

*Please note that we calculated the above rates using each carrier’s online pricing calculators for a consistent example of a 2kg package in November 2022. Exact prices are subject to change and dependent on weight, dimensions, destination, and more.

4 Best practices for domestic shipping

A high shipping fee is the leading cause of cart abandonment for online stores, driving nearly half of consumers to abandon their carts in 2021. And 81% of consumersswitched retailers because shipping was too expensive. 

Though domestic shipping is much easier to navigate than international, there are some best practices to keep in mind to help you meet customer expectations around fast, affordable domestic shipping.

1. Compare couriers for best rates

Each carrier competitively prices its services based on the shipments. Although each service is typically available for a flat fee across the UK, there are fuel surcharges payable in addition based on the shipping distance. The three major components used to calculate your fees:

  • Contents
  • Size and weight
  • Shipping distance

Calculating shipping rates for each order can be a tiresome and time-consuming process.

To save you time and headaches, there are cloud shipping solutions that make it easy to compare real-time shipping rates. Cloud shipping software integrates with your ecommerce platform so you can compare shipping couriers and rates.

2. Keep package size down

All major shipping couriers use the overall package size and weight to calculate the costs of shipping items. This means the heavier or bigger the parcel, the higher your shipping costs. 

If you sell mostly heavy items or do a lot of oversized shipping, there may be options that cater to those packages. 

3. Get shipping insurance for expensive or important items

Lost, delayed, and damaged finished goods during transit can be a common problem. To avoid these losses, it would make sense to purchase shipping insurance. Shipping insurance is typically available either as a flat rate or percentage of the value of the shipment, dependent upon the individual couriers and value of the shipment.

Shipping insurance is pretty cheap, so when in doubt, it may be best to purchase it. If your package is valuable enough that you’re considering insurance, the small investment is worth the potential upside if something goes wrong.

4. Use basic ground shipping when speed isn’t a factor

When speed isn’t a factor, ‘standard shipping’ is a great option for domestic shipments. Generally, standard shipping has a longer transit timeline than express services, but with more 3PL companies helping online business expand their distribution reach, there are now more ways than ever to optimise shipping and times.

For instance, ShipBob offers a growing network of fulfilment centre locations across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, and Australia (see our locations here), enabling you to keep your inventory closer to more of your customers to speed up the shipping process.

“Customers get accustomed to a certain service level at a low price — often free — and want it faster over time. Ever since we started our partnership with ShipBob in the summer of 2018, they’ve been able to deliver the customer service level we need at the right cost.”

Michael Peters, VP of E-Commerce Operations at TB12

ShipBob’s domestic shipping partners

We handle your shipping operations for you, end-to-end, from partnering with major global and regional shipping couriers to providing insights into shipping performance so you can optimise your distribution and shipping strategy. 

ideal distribution

Serve customers across the world? ShipBob offers an international fulfilment network with locations in the US, UK, the EU, Canada, and Australia.

ShipBob’s industry-leading fulfilment platform provides advanced data and analytics related to shipping, shipping integrations with leading solutions, and order management functionalities to streamline your logistics operations.

Since ShipBob’s technology is connected to every fulfilment centre location in its global network, you can split inventory across multiple fulfilment locations and track inventory, orders, and shipments in real time.

ShipBob’s automated shipping technology offers real-time shipping insights at a glance. You can get answers to questions like:

  • Which shipping methods do my customers choose most often?
  • How much are my customers spending by shipping method?
  • What is my average shipping cost per shipping method?
  • How long does it take my orders to be delivered by shipping method?
  • Which orders haven’t been delivered yet?
  • Which states do I ship the most orders to?

“We are very impressed by ShipBob’s transparency, simplicity, and intuitive dashboard. ShipBob’s front-end software was the primary decision-making factor for me in choosing them over other fulfilment solutions.

Their software is so simple and intuitive, especially as so many 3PLs have either bad or no front-facing software, making it impossible to enter orders, keep track of what’s leaving or entering the warehouse.

It’s fun to see orders shipping out instantaneously. I love how fast and efficient ShipBob is. Their shipping costs are very reasonable, and their platform makes fulfilment feel so easy.”

Harley Abrams, Operations Manager of SuperSpeed Golf, LLC 

To learn more about how ShipBob can help you establish a winning domestic shipping strategy, click the button below to contact our fulfilment team today.

Does ShipBob ship domestically?

Yes, ShipBob does ship domestically in every country we have a presence in, including the US, the UK, the EU, Canada, and Australia. Click here to see all the locations where our domestic shipping services can be available. ShipBob also ships to all countries in the world. 

How much does domestic shipping cost?

Domestic shipping costs can vary depending on the package’s weight, dimensions, distance, and speed.

How long does domestic shipping take?

This varies based on the country, and the bigger the country is geographically, the longer this average will be. Typically, domestic shipping services in the UK take between 1 and 3 business days to deliver goods to the recipient, depending on the shipping destination a package is sent to.

What’s the difference between domestic and international shipping?

When goods are sent from and to the same country, it is called a domestic shipment. When shipping domestically you usually don’t need to attach any documents beyond a shipping label. International shipping, when you ship to another country, is much more complex due to customs, tariffs, and additional taxes (in other words, there is more paperwork and fees to manage).

Which carrier is best for domestic shipping?

This depends on your most important requirements (e.g., reliability, speed, the cheapest shipping rate, tracking, etc.). In the UK, Royal Mail is considered a good option for shipping goods within the UK, owing to its significant presence in the country which makes for easy drop-offs and pickups as well as the most affordable shipping rates.

Order fulfillment services

You omnichannel fulfillment partner that's an extension of your brand, from unboxings to 2-day shipping.

Warehouse management

Have your own warehouse? Get ShipBob WMS to reduce mis-picks, save time, and improve productivity.

Global scalability

Grow into new geographies with ShipBob's international presence in the US, UK, EU, Canada, and Australia.

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