What is a Shipping Carrier?

A shipping carrier is a company tasked with shipping your order package from the shipper to your customers. Most shipping carriers allow you to drop off packages directly to them, whereas others allow you to schedule pickups from your location. However, most carriers can pick up packages from any warehouse or fulfillment service you use.

Shipping carriers will have a delivery fee that is applicable to your shipment. The cost depends on your marketing tactics and product pricing. The shipping carrier fees significantly contribute to the expenses of running a business.

Some shipping carriers that provide services globally are UPS, USPS, DHL, FedEx, etc.

Today, more companies rely on the internet to sell their products. Consequently, shipping carriers are indispensable to keeping the economy running because more people depend on online shopping and delivery.

Not all shipping carriers are the same. There are differences between the long-range and regional parcel carriers, focusing on last-mile delivery. Long-range carriers are renowned for offering “door-to-door” services. They make shipments to international locations as well. On the other hand, regional carriers make shipments in specific regions or cities. They provide cost-effective rates in the areas that they serve.

Shipping Carrier

What is the Difference between a Shipping Courier and a Shipping Carrier?

Shipping Courier

A shipping courier service delivers small shipments. It works on shipments between 1 and 15 boxes, based on aspects like volume, weight, and location. Some leading carriers for shipping are FedEx and DHL. The majority of courier services have restrictions on shipment size. The larger your shipment, the more the applicable fee is.

Shipping Carrier

A shipping carrier service offers large shipments weighing more than 150 lbs. The large shipments usually need transport trucks with dedicated equipment, and loading and unloading sites. Although shipping carriers don’t offer quick services, they are reasonable while shipping locally or internationally.

Courier modes include transporting shipments via the ocean, air, or by road. Many online retailers use third-party logistics providers as their shipping carrier services. In such services, the shipping cost is low, but the parcel may get damaged occasionally.

Shipping Carrier

Shipping Courier Vs. Shipping Carrier

Shipping Courier Shipping Carrier
Door-to-door delivery.
Delivery takes place through transport trucks.
Offers a quick and efficient way to ship your goods.
Usually, the delivery time falls within a set timeframe.
Supports the option of same-day delivery.
Same-day delivery option is not offered. Customers may need to wait when other deliveries are reserved in the area.
Low risk of the shipment being damaged.
Higher risk of the package being damaged.
Expensive shipping cost.
Reasonable shipping cost.
Strict limitations on package weight and dimensions.
No restrictions on package weight and size.
Offers personalized service, and extra care for your goods.
No personalized service is provided.

Which one to choose?

  • If the shipment is small, using a shipping courier service is suitable. This service is beneficial in terms of quick delivery, reduced parcel damage, and extra care given to your packages.
  • If the shipment is large, using a shipping carrier service is recommended. This service is beneficial in terms of reasonable prices and shipping bulkier packages.
Shipping Carrier

Factors to Consider While Choosing a Shipping Carrier

The following factors play a vital role in simplifying your choice of a shipping carrier.


To ensure profitability, keep your planned budget in mind and also keep a leeway for additional costs. You may suffer from long delivery times if you choose a cheaper shipping carrier.

The following tips will help you follow an effective cost strategy when selecting a shipping carrier.

  • Firstly, research various shipping carrier services. Two shippers may pay different rates for the same services. Carefully go through their services and choose the one that best meets your needs and budget. Generally, LTL freight is more economical than full truckload freight.
  • Don’t compromise on the quality. If a shipping service with a higher price guarantees decent quality and excellent safety, you must go for it. This will be a beneficial factor in the long run.
  • Try to negotiate the best costs with your shipping carrier service, if allowed. It proves useful when you want the service at a reduced price.

Delivery time

Make sure the low cost doesn’t compromise delivery time. If you want quick delivery of your orders, look for shipping carriers that are specialized in fast delivery and error-free delivery. Moreover, if you want quick and quality delivery, you must be ready for a higher service cost.

Weekend delivery

A few shipping carriers offer weekend delivery. If you wish to receive your order during weekends, compare the ones who support this option. When comparing, you should evaluate parameters like price, quality, package weight, and size limitations.


As you look for a suitable carrier, you must be clear on whether your shipping location is local or international. Various shipping carriers provide various services, rates, and benefits based on delivery location. For example, a regional carrier is suitable if the destination is also regional. You can choose a cheaper service for local shipments, like ground shipping. It is cost-efficient when compared to expedited shipping through the air.

Let’s say you need to ship something overseas. In this case, it is better to partner with an international shipping carrier skilled at foreign deliveries and also offer cost-effective rates for international shipments.

You must know how the shipping zones work to streamline the shipping process. If the shipping is to a far distance, the shipping will be done to a higher zone. The higher zone indicates a higher price.

Shipping Carrier

Type of Products

Avoid making a hasty decision when you choose a shipping carrier. Always take into consideration the type of product to be shipped. Your packages’ weight, size, and shape impact the shipping costs. For example, for the shipment of stationery items, a courier delivery service is recommended. But a reliable shipping carrier permitting large weight limits is preferred to ship large suitcases.


Ask yourself whether the shipping carrier matches your shipping budget. Firstly, you can consider local carriers because they provide better pricing than other major carriers. Products that your local carrier can’t handle can be assigned to other carriers based on their specific area of delivery.

When it comes to fees, you also need to consider the additional surcharges which are billed to your invoice in the future. If two shipping carrier services offer the same base rates, one can be pricier if it charges more surcharges than the other.

Keep in mind that for shipping oversized packages, the price is higher. For example, if the weight exceeds 150 lbs, you will be charged higher.


It is great to choose a shipping carrier that allows tracking. Tracking ensures that both the shipper and customers are aware of the shipment’s delivery timeline. Shipment tracking also allows for safety and supervision during the delivery process. Tracking involves notifications scheduled to update the customer in real-time.

For example, it keeps them notified of when the parcel was dispatched when it’s on its way, and when it arrives at its destination.


Look at your average order value and how much your shipping partner’s calculated insurance will cover. Check for any additional insurance if required. Reliable shipping carrier companies usually offer both tracking and insurance to ensure product safety.

Shipping Software

Certain shipping carriers provide shipping software that streamlines the shipping process and also saves time. Using the right software can avoid errors like choosing the improper service level, mislabeling deliveries, and incomplete order delivery. Furthermore, when carrier shipping uses shipping software, it helps them choose the smallest boxes possible for every order. So, it determines proper package size based on product size and thus, avoids money waste.

Live rates

The shipping volume must be more than the minimum required volume to exclude the pick-up fee. Otherwise, a pick-up fee will be added. Hence, you must consider the pick-up fee and any other unexpected fees when considering live rates.
Shipping Carrier

International Vs. Regional Shipping Carriers

Most shippers are acquainted with the major carriers in a country. Certain shipping carriers specialize in regional shipments, and many others specialize in international shipments. Let’s go through the details of each of them.

What are regional carriers?

Regional carriers are local carriers that specialize in providing quick, cost-effective shipping and transportation services. They are categorized into two types – those that cover particular cities, states, and/or neighboring regions and those that support multi-state coverage in the same region.

Examples of regional carriers

The following table shows the leading regional carriers in different Asian countries.
Country Shipping Carriers
Ninjavan, Kerry, Lalamove
DHL, LBC,J&T, Lalamove, Entrego, XDE, Ninjavan
Asendia, DHL, Pickupp, Ninjavan, J&T, Lalamove
Hong Kong
Pickupp, Lalamove
Sendle, Auspost
Shipping Carrier

What are international carriers?

International carriers provide global shipping services to ship packages to recipients living abroad. Generally, they are priced higher than regional carrier shipping. A rise has been there in the need for this service with increasing demands for international shipment these days.

For international shipping, it is essential to consider whether you will be participating in Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) shipping or not. Certain carriers provide DDP services, whereas others provide DDU (Delivery Duty Unpaid). In DDU shipping, the buyer is accountable for paying any duties incurred after the package moves to the destination country.

DDP is one of the most famous shipping options for businesses that sell plenty of products globally. The reason is that it makes sellers accountable for paying any import or customs duties instead of the buyer.

The following table shows the leading international carriers along with the services they specialize in.


The choice of a shipping carrier becomes straightforward after you evaluate your needs, budget, delivery time, shipping destination, etc. Reliable shipping carrier services deliver the orders to the destination efficiently, quickly, and safely. Their prices are beneficial considering the low risk of product damage, efficient shipping, and support for same-day delivery options.

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Yes, because most shipping carriers assign a unique tracking number to each parcel they handle. This way, they can monitor package tracking globally. Moreover, they also equip retailers and consumers with the ability to track the location of their parcels (occasionally in real-time). The shipping carriers provide an online lookup system and unique tracking numbers. If you can pinpoint the carrier depending on the tracking number, you can also visit their website to track the order information.
Received For Shipment (RFS) means that a shipment is received in the port by the ocean carrier. However, it has not yet been loaded on the designated vessel. The corresponding ocean carrier may publish a receipt for the shipment bill of lading that validates the receipt of the containers before packing. After the notification is labeled as “received for shipment”, the bill of lading will no longer show the “shipped on board” indication. Note that RFS differs from a clean or an onboard bill of lading.

The shipper on a bill of lading is the one who is tasked with packing and preparing a shipment to consign to the carrier for transport. It can be a supplier who sends your company accessories for use in the manufacturing process. Suppose you buy goods from an African vendor that you plan to resell in China. If that vendor is preparing and packing the shipment for transport via ocean freight, that person is called the shipper on your bill of lading.

A carrier facility is a huge distribution center or warehouse that stores packages people order in a specific location. Although you live in its neighborhood, you can’t pick up your package at a carrier facility. This rule considers the legal and safety concerns. For example, USPS allows you to pick up your package at the post office. FedEx and UPS have retail locations from where your packages can be picked up or unloaded.
“Departed from carrier” means that your order has been dispatched to reach another carrier facility or router or perhaps to the destination state, province, or country. The most important thing to look for is “departed to”, which specifies where the item is en route.
A Contract Carrier is a transport company that restricts its shipping line to certain organizations or people. It agrees to a contract with the people or organizations for a specific period. Contract carriers own the right to choose the people or products they want to transport. Usually, it is accomplished through negotiation and is then wrapped up by a contract.

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