If you are looking at the different shipping options available, you might have come across FedEx SmartPost. If so, you are probably wondering if this is a viable shipping option for you and whether you should use it.
FedEx SmartPost is now known as FedEx Ground Economy. It is a shipping option that is suitable for non-urgent, inexpensive, and low weight items that do not need to reach their destination immediately. It tends to be popular with businesses (usually medium and small businesses) and is cost effective. If you are shipping to residents and need to offer returns, it’s a good choice.
What Is FedEx SmartPost?
FedEx SmartPost is ideal if you are mailing something that is not urgent, not heavy, and not particularly valuable. It does not have much insurance and it does not ship fast, but it is a cheap option, so it’s ideal if you are sending something that is not particularly important and you don’t want to pay a fortune to mail it.
The delivery service operates Monday to Sunday, so seven days a week, but quite a few of FedEx’s normal shipping options are unavailable when you use it. For example, you cannot have:
- Signature to provide delivery
- Selected time deliveries (either date or time of day)
- The ability to correct the address
- Stated declared value for the item being shipped
- A money-back guarantee for the item being delayed or not arriving
- Redirect requests (from the shipper) to alter the parcel’s destination if necessary
- Redirect requests to hold the item at a FedEx location
- A service for shipping hazardous materials.
The lack of the above services may put you off using the FedEx SmartPost service, particularly if you need insurance on your parcel because the item is valuable. They do offer liability insurance of up to $100, but no more than this under any circumstances.
SmartPost is certainly not suitable for shipping expensive items, because if the parcel gets lost, you will have no comeback or way to recover the item or its cost beyond this $100.
However, for items that aren’t worth a lot and do not need to arrive at a particular time or on a particular day, it is an appealing option because it is less expensive than many of the others.
What Can Be Shipped With FedEx SmartPost?
The shipping options are pretty generous, and you can ship parcels up to 130” in combined length and girth. Parcels are allowed to weigh up to 70 lbs, but you will get a better deal if the item is between one and ten pounds.
You can see that this service is intended for light, small, and valueless items that don’t need to move about in a hurry.
Where Can I Ship To With FedEx SmartPost?
So, where can you send items to using this service? FedEx SmartPost delivers to all of the contiguous US, and it will also deliver outside of this area, but often will estimate longer shipping times as a result of the greater distance.
How Long Does It Take?
The shipping time will vary a bit depending on the location, but they advertise delivery times of two to seven days for the contiguous US. Obviously, seven days is quite long by today’s shipping standards, but generally considered acceptable.
If you are running a small or medium business with lots of small items that don’t need to arrive in a hurry, this is a great option for you and will help you make shipping easy and cheap. Make sure you inform customers in advance about the shipping times, though – especially if they are outside of the US.
How Does It Work?
The SmartPost option works by utilizing the United States Postal Service (USPS) in order to finish the delivery of some items. Because the USPS postal service is so extensive and efficient, this helps to get parcels to the right places as quickly and efficiently as possible.
So, it’s a sort of hybrid service. FedEx will collect your parcel from the shipping destination, and pass the parcel on to USPS in order for them to deliver it. Every parcel is handled by two different companies, which are FedEx and USPS, ensuring that the most efficient route is taken every time.
The advantage of this system is that USPS is already delivering mail to almost every address almost every day, so it is very little extra work for them to take some small parcels alongside their usual mail.
They can easily collect the parcels and drop them off at the intended destination, with minimal extra work for anyone. This gets the parcels delivered much more quickly than if FedEx tried to deliver to houses individually.
Because the service is efficient and makes use of an existing network of deliveries, it helps to keep the cost low. It is somewhat similar to the UPS SurePost service, but uses two different carriers.
Is It Reliable?
You might be surprised, given that two different companies have to handle the parcels, to hear that it is very reliable, yes. FedEx SmartPost achieves a 98% on-time delivery success rate, as long as the parcel arrives at the proper hub. From this hub, the parcels go to USPS, or sometimes to another small delivery company, and continues to the recipient.
Because the shipping service is so reliable, you may feel that you don’t need additional insurance on high value items. However, this is not advisable; things could still go wrong, as they handle thousands of parcels per day.
If you are shipping something valuable, make sure that you send it with an appropriate, signed-for service that offers insurance up to the item’s full value. This protects you in the event that something goes wrong, and will allow you to get your money back.
Are The Claims True?
You may have heard a number of accusations against FedEx SmartPost, and some are not true, but others are true or at least partially true. Let’s explore these in detail.
We’ve already covered the shipping times, but what do people mean when they say that FedEx SmartPost is slow?
Well, it is in a way, but only relatively. There are so many impressively fast shipping options nowadays that anything slower than two or three days often feels slow to us. If your FedEx SmartPost parcel ends up taking a week to arrive at its destination, you and the buyer might well feel like this is a bit slow.
However, remember that you get what you pay for, and to make the shipping cost less, FedEx is using a different mailing service to get it to its destination, rather than sending out a dedicated driver. This, inevitably, will take longer.
The SmartPost option does average four days transport time, so in theory at least, it is not slow compared to some shipping options. However, if your buyers need items more quickly, it might be wise to offer an alternative, more expensive shipping option so that they can get things they need in a rush.
This makes people more likely to buy your items for birthdays and Christmas, when they need something at the last minute. Since they pay the extra, there is no additional cost for you, and your buyers can still have low-cost shipping if they are prepared to wait.
So, is SmartPost slow? It’s slower than some options, but not enormously slow, and many people are very happy to wait a few more days for their parcel if they have not been charged a lot for shipping, or have been given it for free.
Many people say that SmartPost is unreliable, or that it is “bad” in general. They may mean that it is almost always late and does not reach its destination when it should (even accounting for the longer shipping times).
This is a bit of a falsehood. It’s mostly based on the startup phase of SmartPost, in which there were quite a few hiccups, because USPS and FedEx had to learn how to communicate and make sure that everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing at all times.
Changes had to be made to the system and new hubs had to be opened up to ensure mail could travel efficiently, and some tweaks had to be made to the system. Early experiences of SmartPost may not have been great, but the system has massively improved in the years it has been running.
FedEx SmartPost Is Just USPS
This is not really true. FedEx takes the orders and is responsible for picking up and handling the items. However, they do pass them to USPS for the later part of the journey, because USPS has the most comprehensive and extensive service across the whole of the United States.
It might seem strange for two carriers to join up to provide a service, but FedEx SmartPost is not just USPS masquerading as another company. It is a hybrid service that involves work from both parties.
There are major advantages to this system, namely that you have full tracking, the coverage is extremely extensive, and you have access to Saturday deliveries. The service can also reach other parts of the US, such as Hawaii and Alaska, but be aware that the shipping time for these areas can be much slower.
What Do I Have To Do To Use The Service?
You have to be contracted with FedEx in order to use this service; it is not available to most people. You cannot just book it via their online site.
If you are interested in using the SmartPost service, you will need to contact FedEx by phone and discuss it. Remember, it is now called the FedEx Ground Economy service, so ask about this while on the phone.
Their workers should then be able to guide you through the process of getting into a contract and getting access to this service so you can reduce your shipping costs and offer a cheap and reasonably swift service to customers of your company.
What Are The Biggest Advantages Of FedEx SmartPost?
Apart from being reasonably cheap, why should you use FedEx SmartPost for your business?
It offers a range of benefits, including:
- It makes it easy for customers to return items, which increases customer satisfaction and customer confidence
- Customers get a prepaid return label and clear instructions so you don’t have to man the phones and deal with return queries as extensively
- You can ship packages within a good range of weights and sizes, making this a viable option for many business items you might send
- The service days are from Monday to Sunday
- There is a tracking service so you (and your buyers) can keep an eye on where parcels are and how far they have traveled
Are FedEx SmartPost And FedEx Ground Economy Exactly The Same?
Yes, these two services are two names for the same thing. The old name is SmartPost and the new one is Ground Economy, but they result in an identical service and there is no difference between them.
Don’t be surprised if some merchants still refer to FedEx SmartPost during the checkout process, or even if you get labels with your shipment that refer to SmartPost. The transition is still taking place, but Ground Economy is the new name.
FedEx SmartPost is a great, hybrid service that gets shipments to the right places as cheaply as possible. It serves small and medium businesses that have low weight, low value items that do not need to reach their destination too quickly, so it’s an ideal option for e-commerce.
If you are struggling while waiting for deliveries or having problems with being in at the right time, you might want to consider a virtual mailbox.
Then, even if your parcel is delayed and SmartPost lets you down, you don’t need to worry – because with a virtual mailbox, you are effectively always in. This takes all the stress out of waiting for a delivery!