12 minute read

Small Business Delivery Service: Cheapest and Fastest Options in 2024

Explore the best small business delivery services of 2024, balancing speed and cost to enhance customer satisfaction

Illustration of a speedy delivery truck with a clock on a blue, coin-adorned background

Fast delivery is not just a customer expectation; it's often the deciding factor in a purchase. The speed and cost of your small business delivery service can be make or break as to whether a customer chooses your product or not.

Here’s the deal.

A McKinsey & Company report on retail states that 90% of consumers see 2-to 3-day delivery as the baseline, and 30% expect same-day delivery. So your small business needs an efficient delivery service, but you also need to mind your costs. How do you choose the best small business delivery service?

We can help.

We’ve taken a deep dive into small business delivery service options, finding out what works and what doesn’t, to provide you with a detailed yet easy-to-understand breakdown on the fastest and cheapest on the market. We’ve also offered a solution for small business owners to cut costs and boost customer satisfaction in your delivery operation.

Before we jump into the list of delivery services, let's take a look at the essential factors to consider when selecting the right one for your business needs

Criteria for Choosing a Small Business Delivery Service

Selecting the right delivery solution for your small business is crucial. What should you look for to ensure efficiency and reliability in your choice?

Here are the most important considerations:

Delivery Speed

Living in the digital age has created an expectation that buyers can get what they want faster than ever. One study found that 56% of all abandoned carts are due to shipping related concerns during checkout:

  • 28% quit shopping because they needed the product quicker than the delivery estimate 
  • 26% abandoned the purchase because they needed the product immediately and the retailer didn’t offer fast enough delivery

As a result, small business delivery service rates must include fast delivery, and your shipping service must meet those speed commitments. There should also be choices for expedited shipping if needed, as some customers will pay more to get it faster.

Reliability

Do the items arrive when they’re supposed to? Customers expect their packages to arrive on time—and in good condition. If you don’t already, consider developing a shipping policy and use it when choosing a provider. Your delivery service needs to meet your expectations and those of your customers. Make sure the service offers tracking and proof of delivery.

Finally, volume is key: do you have high volume on a daily basis, or do you have spikes in demand? The service provider you choose needs to be reliable enough to adjust to your order volume.

Shipping options

It appears that having choice is important to 4 out of 5 Americans. Free delivery is a preference for some, with 58 percent of online shoppers abandoning their purchase after finding out shipping costs are higher than expected. Up to half give up if shipping isn’t free. For some, speed rules, while others will wait to save money—83% of consumers are willing to wait a few extra days if they don’t have to pay for shipping.

Proven track record

Ask for references from other businesses. What’s the delivery service provider’s track record for on-time delivery? Do they have reliable small business delivery service tracking? How are the customer satisfaction ratings? Make sure other businesses find the provider reliable, consistently on-time, and delivering goods in a pristine condition. Reviews from other businesses will go a long way to help you gauge reliability.

To further assess a small business delivery service's track record, explore online reviews, social media discussions, and published success stories on their website. Look for data on their on-time delivery rates and consider any industry certifications or awards they've received. Trial periods can also offer a firsthand experience of their service efficiency.

Cost

Your delivery service should not cut into your profits. Your direct costs will therefore include the cost of your product—including raw materials and labor costs, for instance—as well as shipping charges. While some customers will pay more for faster delivery, there has to be other options too, like free shipping if they buy a certain threshold of goods. As a result, what you pay for delivery is a big consideration.

Geographic coverage

Depending on your customer base, you need to make sure your delivery provider can cover your target market area. Scalability may be an issue if you plan to expand. Can the provider scale its operations to expand along with your business?

Business-specific needs

Can the delivery service handle the goods you are selling? One example is food delivery, which requires temperature-controlled service to ensure food safety. You may have unique requirements that will need to be met.

💡 Alternative approach: Manage your own deliveries with Circuit for Teams

Another option is managing your own team of delivery drivers in-house if you operate locally. Thousands of small businesses are saving over 20% per month by transforming their delivery operations with Circuit for Teams. Our integrated platform offers everything from automated customer notifications, AI-powered route optimization, live route tracking, electronic proof of delivery, and much more. Cut out the third party along with the hefty costs!

Circuit for Teams is a simple software for optimizing routes with multiple drivers. Click here to start your free 14-day trial.

If that doesn't quite suit your needs, no worries! Let's dive into our honest and detailed review of delivery services, just as promised.

The 10 Best Small Business Delivery Service in 2024

Different small business delivery options offer different value, so your choice depends on your business needs. Here are the 10 best small business delivery services in 2024, with their unique value proposition for your unique shipping requirements.

  • DHL Express for international express shipping to over 220 countries and territories
  • United States Postal Service - small business solutions for its 30,000+ locations
  • FedEx - for daily delivery, including on weekends
  • Canada Post Small Business for delivering to Post Office Box Number addresses in Canada
  • UPS for its low prices for large packages
  • Fulfillment by Amazon for ecommerce businesses to outsource their order fulfillment 
  • easypost for connecting to and comparing rates across multiple carriers, including USPS, UPS, FedEx and DHL
  • Sendle for its competitive pricing on small packages
  • ShipBob to outsource DTC and B2B fulfillment
  • Your own in-house team of drivers for any business that requires local or regional delivery

The Best Small Business Delivery Service for International Coverage

If you’re shipping items around the globe, then DHL Express is your choice for international deliveries.

Here’s why:

  • Offers express shipping to over 220 countries and territories.
  • In operation for more than half a century.
  • A team of more than 100,000 Certified International Specialists.
  • Global expertise and Customs know-how to keep your shipments moving swiftly.
  • Provides door-to-door expedited shipment delivery on the next possible business day.
Delivery Speed Options- Urgent, time-sensitive: next possible business day.
- Less urgent: 1 to 3 business days
Price EstimatesDHL asks businesses to fill out a shipping profile and connect to an expert to discuss frequent business shipping needs. A one-off quote for a single shipment—including the cheapest way to send a parcel—can be found using the Get a Quote tool. Shipment volume and frequency can earn preferential rates.
Tracking and InsuranceEnd-to-end tracking visibility
Proactive delivery notificationsOn request
Availability of Special ServicesDangerous goods accepted

The Best Small Business Delivery Service Across the United States 

If you’re sending goods within the United States, then USPS is the best option for small businesses. USPS delivers packages from all over the nation to every region.

Here are the other advantages:

  • Offers affordable prices, including lower Commercial Rates with a new, Click-N-Ship experience. 
  • Get additional savings with a business account and save even more on select services by opting in to the Business Rate Card.
  • Get marketing and advertising help with direct mail efforts via USPS Marketing Mail tools.
  • Eliminate some of your hassle with services like free shipping supplies and package pickup.
  • People residing in any part of the United States have access to Postal Services.
Delivery Speed Options- Priority Mail Express: next day or 2 days.
- Priority Mail: 1 to 3 business days.
- Ground Advantage: 2 to 5 business days
Price EstimatesPrices vary by speed of delivery. Priority Mail Flat Rate lets you ship packages up to 70 pounds to any state at the same price
Tracking and InsurancePay extra for insurance, add options like signature requirements 
Proactive delivery notificationsFree informed delivery feature lets customers receive automated notifications with an account
Availability of Special ServicesOptions like Media Mail let you send only books or other eligible media for a more affordable price

The Best Small Business Delivery Service For Fast, Every Day Service 

Need to be sure your packages arrive on a weekend? Need them sent fast? Then FedEx is your choice.

Here’s why:

  • FedEx offers home delivery every day of the week.
  • It covers more residential locations than UPS Ground. 
  • Offers a low-cost shipping service, or options to ship more quickly.
  • Choose FedEx Express for time-definite delivery to more than 220 countries and territories.
  • Choose same-day shipping or get your package there the next business day with FedEx overnight delivery.
  • FedEx Freight Priority has the fastest published transit times of any nationwide LTL (less than a truckload) service.
Delivery Speed OptionsOptions are self explanatory:
- First Overnight
- Priority Overnight
- Standard Overnight
- 2-day AM
- 2-day
- Express Saver.

All options offer different speeds at different prices, based on weight and shipping zones.  
Price EstimatesInput your information to get shipping estimates; packing supplies like envelopes and boxes are free with an account. 
Tracking and InsurancePersonalized tracking dashboard tracks multiple shipments, runs reports, and provides access to documents and images in one place.
Proactive delivery notificationsCustomers can access free FedEx Delivery Manager to manage notifications and determine when, where, and how to receive packages.
Availability of Special ServicesShip dangerous goods and hazardous goods. 

Which Delivery Services are the Most Cost-Effective for Small Businesses in 2024?

Our top picks for the cheapest and best small business shipping service can all “deliver” on lower costs if you set up an account with the company. The best choice could depend on your needs:

  • Flat rate shipping with USPS if your packages will all be the same size.
  • FedEx if you need items shipped more quickly and you’re willing to pay more.
  • DHL to ship confidently around the world.

As for comparing prices, some of the companies—like DHL—want specifics before providing a quote.

So our top two choices for most cost-effective delivery services are USPS and FedEx, because they are the most transparent. They offer clear price charts based on size, shipping destination and delivery speed. That leaves the decision on a top pick.

Small Business Delivery Service in 2024: The Winner 🏆

Overall, from our research, we think USPS takes the crown and here's why:

1. Extensive reach across the U.S. and beyond, including to Post Office Box addresses.

2. Transparent pricing with detailed price lists based on speed of delivery, destination and size of package.

3. Save money with a Business Rate Card and Click ‘N Ship service.

4. Flat rate shipping up to 70 pounds if you have consistent package sizing.

5. Free informed delivery feature available to customers.

6. Free shipping supplies with some service options.

7. Direct mail marketing support. 

💡 The new USPS Connect local delivery service is rolling out across the US, with same-day and next-day delivery to local customers, promising low costs.

In-House Delivery Management: A Smart Alternative

As we touched upon earlier, the cheapest option for getting goods to your customers is by establishing an in-house delivery service—an innovative option that puts you in the driver’s seat (pun intended).

For this to work, you’ll need to make sure you have an efficient process for scheduling drivers, optimizing their routes, and building customer satisfaction with dynamic delivery windows and automated customer notifications..

That's where Circuit for Teams comes into play. CFT empowers a small business owner to take control of their complete delivery process, offering a blend of better cost reductions and enhanced efficiency.

Here’s what Circuit for Teams can provide your small business: 

  • Cost-Effective Delivery Operations: Rather than pay a third-party delivery service every time you make a sale, you can use Circuit for Teams to easily scale your operations, create the quickest route for an unlimited amount of stops, and simplify the delivery route planning process. You’ll reduce delivery costs by up to 20%.
  • Route Optimization: An absolute must when managing drivers, Circuit offers intelligent route creation that improves capacity of drivers while increasing fuel economy and speeding up the delivery process. You can add an unlimited amount of stops by simply uploading your route data via spreadsheet, and Circuit for Teams will calculate and map the optimum route with a single click. You can then make adjustments based on delivery priority levels, proof of delivery type, ETAs, and much more.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Boost customer satisfaction with the ease of real-time tracking information. Our dynamic tracking provides the latest ETAs and information. Recipients can choose to provide delivery instructions, and you can inform them via SMS or email notifications that are customized with your brand.
Delivery route map with a driver's progress and details on a digital interfaceSMS Notification to a package recipient from a delivery management system with a delivery tracking link
  • Delivery analytics: Circuit for Teams gives you the power to delve deep into your delivery analytics. See delivery success rates, fail rates and trends, understand costs per delivery, and pinpoint reasons for delays. With historical data at your fingertips, compare actual versus estimated route times for a crystal-clear view of your team's performance
Dashboard displaying delivery analytics with success rates, attempt volumes and stop types
  • Flexible proof of delivery: It’s easy for drivers to make quick deliveries, collect what they need, and share proof of delivery with yourself and your customers—enhancing customer trust in your delivery process time and again. In-app proof of delivery allows drivers to collect signatures, share the delivery status and even provide photos of the successfully delivered package. Drivers can even leave a digital note to tell recipients or dispatchers about special circumstances.
Proof of delivery interface with delivery details and recipient signature confirmation

Circuit for Teams Pricing

Each plan includes a base number of drivers, and you can add additional drivers at a set cost per additional driver/per month. Circuit for Teams gives you the flexibility to add and remove drivers from your team at any time. Looking for autonomy, reliability and efficiency in your small business delivery operations? Look to Circuit for Teams to manage your in-house delivery service.

Pricing tiers for Circuit for Teams delivery management software with features and free trial offers

Small Business Delivery Service FAQs

How does the choice of delivery service impact customer satisfaction?

Once you get a customer to buy your product, having it delivered on-time becomes key to keeping that customer happy. It’s how you will build trust, encouraging those customers to return and shop again.

Consider this: 62% of online customers in the United States believe fast delivery is the most important aspect of a positive customer experience. If you get it wrong, you’ll pay: 69% percent of customers are “much less or less likely” to shop again in the future if an item they purchased is not delivered within two days of the date promised.

Your choice of small business shipping service is vital, and must deliver the following to customers:

  • communicate arrival time and date with real-time tracking
  • reduced wait time for delivery when possible
  • meet the communicated expectations for delivery time

What should small businesses consider when choosing a delivery service?

Finding a delivery service that works for your business is about speed of delivery, since customer expectations continue to increase. When customers were asked how soon they expected to receive their online purchase, 41% of global shoppers said they hoped to receive it within 24 hours, and a whopping 24% wanted it in less than two hours.

It’s about more than speed, though. Here are some other considerations for choosing a delivery service:

  • reliability—goods arrive when promised and in good condition
  • choice of delivery times (same-day, one-day, and more)
  • customer satisfaction ratings or reviews
  • accurate tracking information
  • geographic area covered
  • any special business needs (temperature control, for instance)

How can small businesses measure the effectiveness of their delivery service?

Every business can use metrics to make improvements, and that includes measuring delivery services. To find out if your service is meeting your needs, ask your service provider to give you the statistics to measure on-time delivery rate, early delivery inaccuracy, late delivery inaccuracy, and delivery speed.

If you run your own delivery service using Circuit For Teams, then the metrics you get will provide the following advantages:

  • use granular and real-time data to discover where time and cost savings can be made
  • monitor individual driver stats to maintain a high-performing team
  • find the information you need to resolve disputes with a single search query
  • all account activity is automatically saved so you can review historical route data

What role does technology play in modern delivery services?

The boom in online shopping means delivery services have also expanded, and last-mile delivery is even more important. Last mile delivery is that final step in the buying process, when goods are transported to the end consumer. There are challenges to this last step, like shipping delays and inefficient processes, leading to unhappy customers. But technology has helped last mile delivery improve. 

Here are a few examples.

1. Artificial intelligence can analyze large amounts of data, providing algorithms that predict demand patterns. Businesses can then manage inventories and plan delivery routes.

2. Route optimisation technology builds the most efficient routes, saving the business time and money while delivering packages faster. It considers variables like traffic or construction and delivery time slots. Circuit For Teams will calculate and map the optimum route with a single click, allowing you to adjust based on priority, ETAs, and more. Stops, routes, and drivers are automatically organized and allocated by zone, cutting down on time spent handling these tasks manually.

3. Real-time tracking technology improves customer satisfaction by providing a faster and more reliable service, as customers can follow the progress of their deliveries. 

What are the key benefits of using delivery management software for small businesses?

Delivery management software lets you organize all the steps involved in getting a package from the time of the customer’s order to the time it reaches their doorstep. It can also make delivery services more efficient, which also saves you time and money.

Here are 7 benefits of delivery management software, which allows your business to:

  1. Deliver faster
  2. Manage drivers more easily
  3. Grow your business
  4. Reduce wasted time
  5. Keep your customers happy
  6. Reduce fuel costs
  7. Manage peak periods

Can small businesses affordably implement in-house delivery management?

If you choose a third-party delivery service to handle your goods, you may find that the high costs cut into your profit margins, and you suffer from lack of quality control, which can impact customer satisfaction. Someone else’s driver is now the face of your company, so if the package is late, damaged, or doesn’t arrive, you bear the brunt of the customer’s disapproval. Those are two immediate benefits to creating an in-house delivery team.

Delivering goods on your own also provides these advantages:

  • cost-effective
  • gives you more quality control over how items are delivered
  • allows you to be flexible—handling on-demand, same-day and next-day deliveries
  • customers are interacting with your drivers

About the author

Ardith StephansonContributor

Ardith Stephanson is a freelance writer and journalist who writes on a variety of topic areas and has some fun with her personal blog theardizan.com.

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Logistics map interface showing the New York afternoon delivery run with route lines and list of addresses