Every eCommerce business, be it a small one or a large one, requires a seamless and reliable logistics channel. A good logistics channel doesn't have to be as complex as Amazon's logistics technology. But it should surely be able to cater to your organizational needs and meet customers' expectations.
If you look at the shipping industry today, you'll find numerous competitors, each offering the best they can to lure in potential eCommerce business owners. But among that swarm, only a few carriers provide top-notch services. DHL and USPS are two such courier services.
Both DHL and USPS work on simplifying the process of shipping a package and delivering it to the customers' doorstep. However, the two function quite differently when it comes to offering services and charging for shipments.
If you have been struggling to find the better one among the two, here's a detailed comparison that will give you much-needed clarity regarding DHL vs. USPS.
2) The history of DHL and USPS
In the late 1960s, while studying law at the University of California, Berkeley, Larry Hillblom started working as a courier delivery agent for Michael's, Poe & Associates (MPA). His job required him to pick up and deliver packages between Oakland International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport up to five times a week.
After graduating, when Hillblom met salesman Adrian Dalsey from MPA, the two hit it off and together thought of the idea of expanding the company's services to other businesses. The duo started flying between Honolulu and Los Angeles, transporting lading bills for Seatrain Lines, their first client.
After tasting success with this venture, Hillblom started his own shipping carrier with Dalsey and another friend, Robert Lynn, as partners. He invested a portion of his student loan to finance the business and used the initials of the trio’s last names to name the company.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) came into existence in the 1970s when the USA was striving for independence. It was through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, who at that time oversaw Britain’s colonial mail service. He connected thirteen fragments so effortlessly that covering distances as long as Philadelphia to New York City reduced to a mere 33 hours.
The development of simpler tracks gave Franklin's patriot friends a push to take a step towards independence, and they created Committees of Correspondence and Constitutional Post in the early 1770s.
Five years down the line, before the Declaration of Independence was officially signed, the Continental Congress converted the Constitutional Post to the Post Office of the United States, giving America its very own independent shipping carrier service.
3) DHL vs. USPS - Primary differences between the two
Both DHL and USPS offer courier services to eCommerce business owners, but the two shipping carriers aren't the same.
Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, DHL is a large shipping carrier focusing on cross-border shipments around the world. Its services are aimed at high-volume domestic and international shippers. USPS, on the other hand, is the primary postal service of the United States that specializes in delivering mail and small packages less than 70 pounds, both domestically and internationally.
Both, thus, operate very differently and have a different scope of work. Here's a detailed look into DHL and USPS services and pricing.
3.1) DHL vs. USPS: Domestic Services
DHL's services in the United States can be divided among three categories:
a) DHL SmartMail Parcel & DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus
These services guarantee delivery within 2 to 3 days, but with a weight restriction. Where DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus allows shipping 25 pounds at max, DHL SmartMail Parcel permits couriers weighing within 1 pound.
Moreover, the price of DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus is more compared to DHL SmartMail Parcel.b) DHL SmartMail Flats & DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter
Unlike the previous services, these two services take a bit longer to deliver shipments, with their guaranteed delivery being within 2 to 5 days. The basic difference between them lies in their weight limitations.
DHL SmartMail Flats only allow shipping packages weighing up to 1 pound, whereas DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter allows shipping 15 pounds at max. Again, since DHL SmartMail Bundle Printed Matter's weight limit is higher, it costs more than the DHL SmartMail Flats service.c) DHL SmartMail Parcel Return
As the name suggests, this service handles the return of shipments completing the process within a mere 1 to 3 days.
USPS' domestic services can also be broken into three categories:a) Priority Mail Express
Being the priciest service on the USPS services chart, this delivery option assures users of overnight delivery anywhere within the United States, that too, with no calculations or weighing on packages up to 70 pounds. Additionally, it comes with USPS tracking standards and insurance of $100.b) Priority Mail
This service ships and delivers to any location within the US in not more than 1 to 3 business days. Its services are almost similar to the Priority Mail Express except for the insurance part, which is less than $50.c) USPS Retail Ground
This is the standard service provided by USPS which takes between 2 and 8 business days to deliver shipments anywhere in the US. Though there isn't any in-built insurance, customers have the option to pay more to avail that benefit.
3.2) DHL vs. USPS: International Services
DHL's international services can be clubbed under three subheads:a) DHL Same Day Jetline & DHL Same Day Sprintline
Both these services guarantee same-day delivery. The only difference is DHL Same Day Jetline delivers via air, whereas DHL Same Day Sprintline delivers via road.
Since customers get their shipments within a day, this is the most expensive international service provided by the shipping carrier.b) DHL Express Worldwide & DHL Express 12:00
DHL's most used service, DHL Express Worldwide, delivers shipments within one business day (from the day of withdrawal). In comparison, DHL Express 12:00 promises delivery in one business latest by 12 pm.
Both the services are less expensive than DHL's Same Day delivery and are widely used by customers.c) DHL Express Envelope
Unlike other international services, the DHL Express Envelope is only restricted to the delivery of documents. It takes one business day to ship and deliver important documents to as many as 220 countries worldwide.
USPS' international services can also be clubbed under three subheads:a) Global Express Guaranteed
This service guarantees delivery across the globe within 1 to 3 business days. It permits shipping packages weighing a maximum of 70 pounds and gives access to USPS tracking, including an insurance cover of up to $100.b) Priority Mail Express International
This service ensures delivery within 3 to 5 business days across the globe. It also offers USPS tracking and an insurance of up to $200 for damaged shipments, missing contents, or loss of products.c) Priority Mail International
This is the most used service on the USPS international services chart. It delivers shipments within 6 to 10 business days without weighing or calculating them. With its Flat Rate Boxes or Envelopes, it enables users to ship at a single fixed rate that varies depending only on the destination country.
Just like other services, it offers the regular tracking feature of USPS and a chance to benefit from an insurance of up to $200 for damaged shipments, missing contents, or loss of products and that of $100 for non-negotiable document reconstruction.
3.3) DHL vs. USPS: Additional services for businesses
With eCommerce businesses growing at a rapid pace, shipping carriers need to be ready with a variety of services. Luckily, DHL and USPS are fully equipped to assist sellers in the smooth running of their organizations.
Here are some of the unique services the two shipping carriers offer.
a) DHL Service Points
“DHL Service Points” is actually a unique name given to stores authorized by DHL where the company’s customers can simply walk-in and physically pick up (receive) the products. They can choose the pick-up time as per their availability, and take their shipment home without any hassles.
b) DHL Express for Fashion
As the name suggests, this service is specially designed to meet the needs of budding fashion sellers online. It offers a variety of services to sellers of fashion-related items, which usually include high-quality packaging coupled with an elegant design.
c) DHL Medical Express
Again, this service provides ease to the medical industry. It handles time and temperature-sensitive shipping within a limited frame as prescribed by the shipper.
d) DHL Express Food & Beverage
DHL Express Food & Beverage isn't like any other typical food shipping carrier. It only considers shipments containing non-perishable products and packs them as per the food or beverages requirement.
Though the USPS doesn't offer any industry-specific services, it gives all eCommerce business owners some incentive when choosing its services. Its exceptional offerings include:
a) USPS Tracking
USPS offers standard tracking services for all its shipments, irrespective of their size and location. This service keeps customers in the loop throughout the delivery process and makes sure the shipment reaches its final destination.
b) Advanced Return Services
Despite having great staff, an efficient management system, and high-quality technology, there can arise a situation where the customer isn't satisfied with his/her product and needs to return the shipment. USPS' Advanced Return Services make sure the return process is hassle-free, and the shipment reaches its owner on time without any damage.c) Click-N-Ship Business Pro
This service is designed keeping in mind the needs of commercial package mailers. It allows regular mailers to create, generate, as well as print labels with intelligent mail package barcodes. It also gives them access to USPS' Electronic Verification System, which allows them to create as well as submit shipping manifests electronically.
Any eCommerce business owner can avail this service by registering via the free Business Customer Gateway software within 15 minutes. Once you download the software, you can set up your account and ship products immediately.
4) Pros & Cons: DHL vs. USPS
Both DHL and USPS come with a set of pros and cons. On the one hand, where they are recognized as shipping giants, they're even criticized for some of their offerings.
Here are some of their advantages and disadvantages.
4.1) DHL Prosa) Powerful international presence in about 220 nations
b) On-time delivery through both air and sea
c) Simplifies transporting large parcels without increasing cost
d) Charges no pickup fees
e) Delivers on time at almost all service points
4.2) DHL Consa) Doesn't deliver to all locations in the US
b) Includes more surcharges than USPS
c) Comes with a higher shipping cost
4.3) USPS Prosa) No surcharges on parcels
b) Zero package tracking fees
c) Delivers to every location inside the US
d) Pocket-friendly shipping rates compared to DHL
e) Delivers across the US too
f) Has a wide variety of service options
4.4) USPS Consa) Higher insurance costs
b) Shipment weight is limited up to only 70lbs
5) DHL vs. USPS: Which service is better and why?
Choosing a shipping carrier is a tough job. With so many of them on the market providing unbelievable services and discounts, one can easily get persuaded to get into a contract. However, the best bet would be to take into account your eCommerce business needs.
For instance, if your area of work is limited within the US, you should consider USPS over other courier services. On the other hand, if you deal with a lot of cross-border shipments, you should rely on DHL to cater to your needs.
Now, many people would recommend going with any one of the carriers, but as per our knowledge, you should tie up with multiple couriers so that you can use the discounts as per your requirements and choose the services that will be most suitable to you at that particular time.
In times when businesses are going digital and paper-free, you should stick with organizations that are making healthier and smarter choices both for the economy and nature at large.
Even when you're selecting a shipping carrier, don't forget to look at their motto and how well their work resonates with it. Check their past performance, pricing, and services, and then make a move. Remember, a good logistics channel can make or break your business, so choose wisely.