Step-by-Step Guide to Overnight Shipping [+Best Practices]

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A whopping 62% of UK consumers view next-day delivery as critical online shopping criteria, yet many are unwilling to pay extra for the service. 

The rise of retail giants like Amazon have altered customer expectations, and online shoppers have come to expect next-day delivery wherever and whenever they shop. When next-day shipping is the norm, how can ecommerce brands stand out?

Enter overnight or next-day shipping, a delivery option that offers a premium shipping experience to your customers — so you can exceed their expectations (and cater to last-minute shoppers).

Table of contents

What is next-day shipping?

Next-day shipping is the quickest delivery option offered by carriers that guarantees customers will receive their order on the following business day.

Different shipping carriers that offer next-day shipping services will have daily cutoff times after which next-day delivery cannot be guaranteed, and, depending on the carrier and shipping service, orders placed over the weekend, which is usually the off time, may need two days to arrive.

This is often synonymous with next-day delivery or one-day shipping; however, exact delivery dates depend on when the order is placed.

Shipping companies that offer next-day shipping have transportation networks that allow them to offer a delivery service with such fast shipping times. The transportation network is usually spread out across the country, as this allows customers to drop off a package and have it ready for early morning delivery. These express services are sometimes limited to certain locations (i.e. if the package is shipped to a rural area).

How next-day shipping works

Next-day shipping is an express shipping option that involves several steps to ensure customers receive their order within a short timeframe. 

1. The order must be placed before the delivery cut-off time. 

In order to have true next-day delivery, a customer must place an order before the delivery cut-off time. Establishing a delivery cut off time gives you plenty of buffer time for order processing, picking, packing, carrier pick-up, and delivery.

2. You or your fulfilment partner prepares the next-day delivery order for carrier pick up. 

3. The carrier picks up and processes the parcel.

When the carrier receives the package, it will be sorted along with other next-day shipping orders and routed to its final destination.

4. The package is transported to a next-day delivery hub.

Once routed, the parcel will be sent to the hub closest to the end customer overnight. Next-day orders are, like the name suggests, shipped overnight in order to make it to the customer on the next business day.  

5. The customer receives their order the next day! 

Most major carriers have next-day delivery options to satisfy both business owners and customers.

4 benefits of overnight shipping

75% of consumers are craving fast shipping, but only 50% of ecommerce businesses offer same-day shipping as an option. 

Offering next-day shipping is a competitive advantage that can set you apart from other ecommerce businesses. Below are just some of the benefits of offering next-day shipping.  

1. Ability to deliver time-sensitive shipments

By offering next-day shipping, you can extend your customers more delivery options for when they’re in a pinch. Next-day shipping is the quickest delivery available, so by giving your customers this option you’re able to appeal to more customers who may be seeking faster delivery.

2. Greater customer satisfaction

As customer expectations continue to rise and fast shipping becomes the standard, offering next-day shipping can increase your brand’s customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Giving customers the freedom to choose faster shipping options if they need them endears shoppers to your brand. 

3. Increased sales and revenue

With greater customer satisfaction comes an increase in sales, and consequently higher revenue. Since customers know they can count on you for speedy delivery, they’ll keep coming back to your online store. 

4. Reduced storage costs

Offering next-day shipping also helps alleviate storage costs. Overnight shipping helps free up warehouse space, which reduces storage costs and minimises the chances of deadstock and obsolescence.

What are the cheapest next-day shipping options?

The cheapest options for shipping are based on many criteria including package weight and dimensions, delivery time frame and distance, and any discounts that could be negotiated with a carrier. Generally, Royal Mail or Evri will be the cheapest UK options for small packages.

Their next-day services will be the best option for any shipment that will fit into them. For packages over 20kg the cheapest option will likely be DPD. Online sellers may be able to negotiate lower rates by negotiating with carriers, or by partnering with retail fulfillment providers like ShipBob. 

Overnight shipping calculators

How much does it cost to send a next-day package?

The short answer? It depends.

Next-day shipping costs can change due to a number of factors, including the following:

1. Package destination

Carriers use the shipping to and from destinations to calculate rates. With the distance between a package’s point of origin and its destination ultimately determining a large portion of the shipping cost.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the delivery distance, the more expensive a package will be to ship. Additional costs are also levied for parcels which cross country or region borders.

2. Package weight

The package weight is how heavy the item is — the heavier and larger the package, the more expensive it will be to ship.

3. Package dimensions

Some carriers using a pricing technique called dimensional weight (also called DIM weight) to calculate shipping rates. Dimensional weight takes into account the size of a package to determine the shipping cost. This is particularly common in countries such as the US.

DIM weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of the package or box size, then dividing by a standard DIM divisor. US Shipping carriers like USPS, FedEx, and UPS calculate shipping charges based on whichever is greater: the actual weight of the package or its DIM weight. Whichever is higher becomes the billable weight for which your business will be charged.

4. Value of the contents shipped

If you’re shipping very high-value products, you may want to have your shipments insured. Shipping insurance offers reimbursement to senders whose parcels are lost, stolen, and/or damaged in transit. While useful, this service can add significantly to your shipping cost.

5. Shipping agreements with carriers

You may be eligible to receive discounted shipping rates from carriers. Some carriers offer discounts for small businesses, while others discount rates based on high shipping volumes. When choosing which carrier(s) — or third-party logistics providers — to work with, look into which rate discounts might be available to you.

Next-day shipping costs by carrier

The table below breaks down next-day shipping rates by different carriers for a small 2kg parcel.

Shipping CarrierShipping Cost
Royal Mail – 24hr tracked£5.95
Royal Mail – Special Delivery, pre-1pm£10.65
Evri – Next Day£5.34
DPD – Next Day£22.14
DPD – Next Day, Pre 12:00£25.28


Is there a difference between overnight shipping and next-day delivery?

Overnight shipping and next-day delivery may sound different, but they mean the same thing. The two delivery terms can be used interchangeably to refer to shipping services that deliver packages to customers the day after they’re ordered.  

Next-day shipping services compared

Next-day shipping is often expensive, but pricing can vary between carriers. Here are the overnight delivery options available from three major carriers.

Royal Mail 24 hour shipping

One popular Royal Mail mail type is its next-day offering,. Packages under 20kg ship overnight starting at £5.95. If you (or your customers) are really in a rush, there are also pre-1pm options available via its ‘Special Delivery’ service.

Among the main UK carriers, Royal Mail offers one of the cheapest next-day shipping options. That’s because Royal Mail runs local routes daily, so they don’t have to go out of their way to deliver to your end customer.

Evri Next-Day shipping

Like Royal Mail, Evri also offer a next-day shipping service available across the majority of the UK. While Evri does not provide a pre-1pm delivery option, it does offer a highly price competitive service.

DPD Next-Day shipping

Often the most expensive of the UK carriers, DPD offers three next-day delivery options in the UK (from most to least expensive):

  • Next-Day: from £22.14 per parcel.
  • Next-Day, Pre-12:00: from £25.28 per parcel.
  • Next-Day, Pre-10:30: from £35.25

All DPD next-day options allow shippers to customise delivery and pickup options, including requiring proof of delivery.

Best practices for handling next-day shipping

If you’re ready to offer an overnight shipping option, but aren’t sure where to start, use these best practices to ensure your packages will arrive at the right location, on time, and undamaged. 

1. Set a clear cut-off time

In order to offer overnight shipping, you’ll need to create a clear policy that outlines your brand’s cut-off time. You’ll want to set this policy so you have ample time for orders to be processed and fulfilled in order to meet next-day delivery times. This policy should clearly communicate your cut-off time to avoid misunderstandings and set expectations with your customers.

2. Operate from multiple warehouses

If you’re shipping internationally, for example across Europe, you’ll need multiple shipping destinations to reach the majority of European shoppers next-day. By distributing your inventory across multiple warehouses, you’re able to reach your end customers more quickly and cheaply. Shipping from multiple warehouses helps you complete urgent shipments because your inventory is stored closer to the delivery location. 

3. Work with reliable partners

Forming relationships with partners who you can count on helps you deliver on the promise of overnight shipping. Vet fulfilment partners with due diligence in order to find one who consistently meets SLAs.

How ShipBob helps execute overnight delivery

Working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, like ShipBob, can help you offer customers overnight shipping. 

Because ShipBob works with different shipping carriers, delivery times are based on when the carrier scans in a package after picking packages up from a ShipBob fulfilment centre. This can be later that same-day or the next business day, depending on the carrier and time of day.

In addition to next-day shipping, ShipBob also offers standard shipping, cross-border shipping, and economy options. This way, we’re able to give merchants plenty of shipping options they can offer their customers and stay competitive in today’s market. 

Location and distance from end customers makes a huge difference when offering next-day shipping. Thanks to ShipBob’s network of fulfilment centres across the globe, we can help you keep your inventory closer to end customers. Distributing inventory shortens transit times and lowers the distance each order has to travel, which can help you save money on express delivery options.

ShipBob’s robust dashboard gives merchants insight into their data in real time. Our analytic tool provides suggestions for how to optimise your inventory distribution based on historical data to reduce transit times and cut down fulfilment costs. 

“By partnering with ShipBob, we’ve been able to not only ship from the UK but start shipping from a fulfillment center in the US to fulfill in-country orders for a much cheaper shipping cost. In the early stages of a brand like ours, we are focused on improving the customer experience. The customer comes first. We want them to get their product on time, intact, and with minimal shipping fees.”

– Will Kerr, Apparel Lead at Quadrant

Get started with ShipBob today

While next-day shipping can be a more expensive option, offering it can help you exceed customer expectations and convert more last-minute shoppers. Working with a third-party logistics partner like ShipBob can help you offer express delivery options to your customers at scale by storing inventory in closer to your shoppers.

To start offering faster delivery and the cheapest overnight shipping options to your customers, request a quote to learn more about ShipBob.

Overnight shipping FAQs

Here are the answers to the most popular questions about overnight shipping.

What is the cheapest next-day shipping?

Based on our research, the cheapest overnight shipping is from Evri. Closely followed by the Royal Mail.

How much does next day shipping cost?

The price of next-day shipping depends on a few factors. Each carrier determines the exact shipping costs according to end destination, package weight and dimensions, value of the content, and any insurance requirements.

What is the fastest shipping?

Various courier companies offer fast shipping. Royal Mail, DPD, and Evri all offer next-day delivery, which is arguably the fastest shipping option available today.

Learn more

In today’s competitive market, customers expect fast shipping. Learn how you can leverage a 3PL to distribute your inventory and speed up shipping times. Download the guide now to learn more.

Written By:

Meredith is a Content Marketing Specialist at ShipBob, where she writes articles, eGuides, and other resources to help growing ecommerce businesses master their logistics and fulfillment.

Read all posts written by Meredith Flora