If you’re an eCommerce business shipping products in the United States, it’s necessary to understand what USPS postal zones are and how they work. You can be impacted by shipping costs that vary depending on how far your packages travel within the postal zone matrix. These costs can quickly start to add up.
Here’s what you need to know about these postal zones and, more importantly, what you can do to offset these costs by outsourcing order fulfillment.
The US Postal Service used to price mailers solely based on the weight of the packages or "mail pieces" in the early days. This proved inefficient over time with the onset of value-added services like priority shipment. With the introduction of postal zones, mail pieces are priced by weight and the distance traveled by these packages within the zones.
Postal zones, also called “shipping zones”, are a way to measure the distance a package travels from its starting point to its final destination. The USPS has a total of nine zones, of which eight are within the continent of the United States and the remaining zone for Freely Associated States.
These zones are measured from the perspective of zip codes and not actual travel miles. Also, the zones are not identified by geographical boundaries. They vary based on the shipper's zip code. For example, zone one covers areas within a 50-mile radius of the shipment's point of origin.
Here's what the USPS National Zone Charts Matrix looks like for your easy reference:
We talked earlier about how the zones are not fixed based on geographies but are based on the shipper's ZIP code. The first zone is within a 50-mile radius of your ZIP code, provided it's not under the service area of your local office. The zone number increases as the distance to your final destination increases.
As a shipper, you will want to know your final destination's zone to determine your shipping costs. Use the "Get Zone for ZIP Code Pair" calculator under the Domestic Zone Chart to find out which USPS Zone your final shipment destination falls under.
You will need to provide the ZIP code you're mailing from, the ZIP code you're mailing to, and the date when you plan to ship, after which you'll be given your specific Zone number.
Zone one is when the final destination for your shipment is within a 50-mile radius of your zip code. If you're posting to your local PO for delivery within the service area of the PO, this would be considered local and not zone one.
Zone two is when your final destination is within a 51 to 150-mile radius of your zip code.
Knowing how USPS Postal Zones are determined can help you understand how much to allocate for shipping costs from your operational budget. You want your postal services to be efficient and reliable. But you also want it to be cost-efficient. Otherwise, you risk profitability, and your business will not be able to sustain itself long-term.
Partnering with an experienced and professional nationwide order fulfillment company like ShipNetwork can help you offset many of the costs associated with order fulfillment, especially your shipping costs, and significantly improve your efficiency in the process.
ShipNetwork has 13 fulfillment centers across the United States, offering a one to two-day delivery reach for 98% of destinations in the US. By using fulfillment centers closer to your final destinations, you can reduce how much you pay for shipping charges. ShipNetwork offers a complete fulfillment, shipping, and returns solution. To learn more about how we can help you ship faster and better, schedule a call with our team or request a quote today.