How Shipping Zones Might Affect Fulfillment

Most people engaging in eCommerce understand the importance of shipping and the need to reduce costs and improve delivery time to attract more customers. One factor that greatly influences the cost of shipping is shipping zones. So, let’s take a look at some common questions about shipping zones and fulfillment.

What Are Shipping Zones?

Shipping zones are the geographical areas that various carriers ship to. For example, there are nine USPS shipping zones (eight in the continental United States and one for outlying states and territories). Each zone includes a grouping of zip codes. 

How Do You Determine Shipping Zones?

Shipping zones are dynamic; the point of origin will always be zone 1, and the destination zone number will change based on where the package is going. 

For example, if you’re shipping from Tampa, Florida to Detroit, Michigan, you’re shipping to zone 5. However, if you’re shipping from Seattle, Washington to Detroit, Michigan, you’re shipping to zone 8. 

Major carriers allow you to enter in your zip code of origin and destination to determine the number of zones your package will be crossing – which you can use to calculate your shipping rates. 

USPS Zones Pages | UPS Zones Pages | FedEx Zone Pages

How Do Shipping Zones Affect Cost?

Remember, where you ship from is always zone 1. Your zone 2 would, of course, be the closest destinations while your zone 9 would be the farthest destinations. It’s no surprise, then, that the farther your package travels, the more it will cost you. 

There are exceptions, of course. For example, some services offer flat-rate shipping. USPS was a pioneer in this concept in the early 90s. Today, their Priority Mail Express Flat Rate packaging is shipped at the same price regardless of weight or domestic destination (up to a 70-pound weight limit). This can be especially for those shipping packages across numerous zones.

How Does Weight Affect Shipping Costs?

Along with zone destinations, weight is also a factor in shipping costs. Shipments that weigh under a pound can be shipped flat rate across the United State regardless of the number of zones it crosses. Any heavier than that, and you’ll generally see your shipping costs increase. Of course, the further that heavy package travels, the more it will cost.

Most carriers also consider “dimensional weight,” or DUM weight, which is the weight of a package as it relates to the amount of space it uses. This is a way for carriers to charge for space, as the larger the package is, the more room it will take up and the less they can fit onto their delivery vehicles. That’s why it is always a good idea to package your products compactly.

How Does Shipping Zone Affect Delivery Speed?

Unless you pay a premium, the farther you ship a package, the longer it will take to arrive. Of course, your goal as an eCommerce retailer is to reduce delivery time, as many of today’s consumers are unwilling to wait a week or more for a domestic product. 

A recent study shows that three days or less is the most acceptable timeframe for most consumers, which isn’t likely if you’re shipping from zone 1 to zone 9 without premium pricing.

How Can The Fulfillment Lab Save Me Money on Shipping?

Now that you have a better understanding of how shipping zones work, here’s how The Fulfillment Lab can help! We can house your products in two different domestic locations. So, when an order comes in, we can ship from the location that will keep your product traveling across the fewest number of zones. 

Not only does this result in lower costs, it also reduces delivery time. That’s a big win/win, and you can even consider passing some of the savings on to your customers in the form of free shipping or reduced shipping to gain more business. 

We also have a global network of fulfillment centers if you’re interested in reaping the rewards of international shipping

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of working with The Fulfillment Lab. Check out our blog 10 Reasons to Use a Fulfillment Center for Your Ecommerce Shipping and then contact us to learn more about what we can do for you!


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