What Is Expedited Shipping? Everything You Need To Know

what is expedited shipping

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Timely deliveries lead to high customer satisfaction and loyalty. Thus, offering expedited shipping is ideal, especially for perishable and time-sensitive goods.

If you’re interested in faster shipping, you likely have these questions.

  • What is expedited shipping (expedited shipping meaning)?

  • How fast is expedited shipping?

  • How much is expediting shipping?

  • Which shipping companies are worth considering?

I wrote this article to answer all your questions (and more).

Let’s get started.

What Does Expedited Shipping Mean?

Expedited shipping is a delivery solution that’s faster than standard shipping services. Some carriers call it priority mail, while others use the term synonymously with express shipping.

However, many carriers still use the term express shipping to refer to a different service that’s faster than expedited shipping.

The primary differences between standard and expedited shipping are the speed and cost. Customers who choose expedited shipping accept the extra cost of speeding up the delivery process.

Carriers have to take additional measures to accelerate the shipping process. For instance, they may choose air shipping. Air shipping is faster than ground shipping, which uses roads or railroads.

How Does Expedited Shipping Work?

Expedited services allow ecommerce shippers to send packages to their customers faster without the significantly higher overnight delivery cost.

Ecommerce businesses offering expedited shipping reduce the standard shipping time from four to ten days to two to three days, depending on the destination and the carrier.

Expedited delivery service involves cutoff times, which vary by carrier and location. To ensure the packages reach their destinations on time, ecommerce stores drop them off at the carrier’s location at a specific time.

Sometimes, it’s the carrier’s responsibility to pick up the parcels from the ecommerce stores at a specific time.

How Fast Is Expedited Shipping?

what is expedited shipping

The time it takes for an expedited parcel to arrive depends on the carrier, the distance, and whether it’s crossing national borders. Remember, even packages transported via expedited shipping may get stuck in customs.

One of the most common reasons for delays in international expedited shipping is non-compliance with custom-clearance regulations. Non-compliance can mean inaccurate descriptions or insufficient documents (among other things).

Carriers offering expedited shipping can reduce the standard shipping time from four to ten business days to two to three days. This timeframe is not absolute because it still depends on each shipping company.

Furthermore, the expedited shipping cost is often higher than the standard shipping fee. Nonetheless, many customers don’t mind paying a premium to get their hands on their parcel as soon as possible.

In many cases, expedited shipping is not the fastest shipping option from a carrier, although it’s always faster than standard shipping.

Does Expedited Shipping Deliver on Weekends?

Does Expedited Shipping Deliver on Weekends?

Expedited shipping service is often available on weekends and even holidays. However, not every shipping company offers this option.

Carriers with expedited shipping options on weekends and holidays include USPS, UPS, and FedEx.

USPS Priority Mail Express ships and accepts packages at its post offices on Saturdays. FedEx Expedited Shipping offers Saturday pickup and delivery in certain locations for an additional fee.

Meanwhile, UPS has long been offering weekend and holiday deliveries, especially in major cities and local areas with high volume. It even delivers certain Amazon packages on Sundays.

How Much Is Expedited Shipping?

How Much Is Expedited Shipping?

Expedited shipping options are more expensive than standard shipping but cost less than express services. Depending on the carriers, these are usually $10 to $20 higher than the normal shipping cost.

Here are some shipping companies and their rates to give you an idea of how much expedited shipping costs.

USPS Priority Mail — Starts at $9.35 for post office and online packages or $7.64 for commercial parcels

UPS 2nd Day Air — Starting at $8.60 for a one lb. package

FedEx 2Day — Starts at $27.40 for FedEx Small Box with a shipping distance between zero and 150 miles 

Several factors influence the expedited shipping cost, including the distance to the destination and the weight and density of the package.

Are Expedited Shipping Services Worth the Additional Cost?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because several factors determine whether this shipping option is worth the added cost.

If you’re dealing with time-sensitive goods, expedited shipping is worth the added expense. However, standard shipping methods are more economical and make more sense if speed is not an issue.

When shipping or receiving any of the items below, expedited shipping is worth considering or even necessary.

Perishable Goods

Perishable Goods

Always choose the fastest delivery method when shipping frozen items like meat, ice cream, and veggies. It doesn’t matter how many ice packs and insulation you use. You don’t want to risk the food spoiling.

Expensive Goods

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If you’re sending luxury goods, you want to make the delivery process as quick as possible to lower the risk of lost packages, theft, damage, and other issues.

Fragile Items

Fragile Items

If you’re shipping fragile items like glassware, computer equipment, and ceramics, I recommend choosing the fastest shipping options to minimize the risk of damage.

How Ecommerce Can Reduce Expedited Shipping Costs

If you own an ecommerce business, consider offering various shipping options, including expedited services and other faster shipping methods.

Here are some tips to reduce the shipping fee (if you’re willing to shoulder it).

  • Set a minimum order value to encourage customers to add more items to their cart, making it easier for your business to shoulder the fee.

  • Extending shipping times from same-day to two to three business days can lower your shipping costs considerably.

  • Consider using fulfillment centers with locations near your customers to speed up the standard shipping process without paying for expedited services.

  • Take advantage of discounted rates for expedited solutions.

To avoid the cost of expedited shipping altogether, consider having your customers pay for it at checkout.

Standard vs. Expedited Shipping

standard shipping vs expedited shipping

If a shipping carrier offers these two options, expedited shipping is generally faster than standard delivery.

If standard shipping takes eight business days, expedited shipping would be sooner.

While the standard delivery option is more economical, expedited shipping is worth the extra cost if the packages contain time-sensitive and perishable items.

Expedited vs. Express Shipping Meaning

expedited shipping vs express shipping

Some carriers use expedited shipping interchangeably with express shipping.

However, for merchants that offer more than three shipping tiers, express service is faster than the expedited shipping option.

Expedited delivery simply means faster than normal, while express shipping (or priority mail express) implies two-day, next-day, or even same-day delivery.

If a courier offers these two shipping options, expedited service usually takes two to three days, while express shipping takes one to two days.

Meanwhile, some couriers use the term express delivery service to refer to overnight shipping.

Express Shipping Definition

Express parcels are more expensive than expedited and standard packages because of their faster delivery times and higher reliability.

Priority mail express options generally include overnight, same-day, and next-day deliveries.

This premium shipping option is ideal for perishable and time-sensitive shipments like seafood, fresh produce, and flowers.

These are other time-sensitive deliveries that can benefit from express delivery service.

  • Urgent documents

  • Luggage of travelers who want their things to reach their destination asap

  • Businesses that need to ship goods quickly

  • Individuals or companies that must receive a package immediately

Most shippers carry out their express delivery service through air couriers, especially with international transportation of goods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


What Does 2-day Expedited Shipping Mean?

Two-day expedited shipping doesn’t mean you’ll receive your parcel within 48 hours of ordering. Your packages will arrive within two business days, excluding weekends and holidays.

Does Expedited Shipping Mean Next-day Delivery?

It depends on the carrier and the destination.

However, expedited shipping services generally don’t have a set speed like overnight or next-day delivery. It simply means faster than standard shipping options.

How Long Does Expedited Shipping Take?

The timeframe varies by location and carrier. However, you can expect domestic packages to arrive within two to three business days.

How Long Does Rush Shipping Take?

Rush shipping typically refers to any shipping method that takes one to three business days for delivery. Depending on the shipper, it can also mean same-day or two-day delivery.

What Is Domestic Expedited Shipping?

This shipping method refers to deliveries within a country’s borders.

When shipping domestically within the US, expedited shipping usually takes less than three business days.

What Is International Expedited Shipping?

International expedited shipping of imports and exports goods between nations by sea, air, road, and railroad. The commodities often arrive at their destination within two to five business days.

What Is Expedited Ground Shipping?

Expedited ground shipping uses trucks to deliver goods from point A to point B.

With expedited ground shipping, trucks rarely stop to ensure packages arrive faster than standard shipping service.

How Fast Is UPS Expedited Shipping?

This shipping method takes two to five business days to deliver parcels globally. Meanwhile, the timeframe is often a few days shorter with domestic expedited shipping.

Which Is Faster: Expedited or Priority?

If a carrier offers multiple shipping options, expedited delivery is generally faster than standard shipping but slower than priority shipments.

What Is Express Shipping?

Carriers offering this shipping method typically deliver your package within one to two days. For international shipping, they use air shipping to deliver express packages.

Does Expedited Parcel Have Tracking?

Many carriers assign each parcel a unique tracking number to help customers know where exactly it is, when it will arrive, and whether there is a delay in shipment.

The Bottom Line

Expedited shipping is worth considering, especially if you don’t mind paying for shorter shipping times and more reliable deliveries.

If you’re a seller who wants to offer expedited shipping for free, set a minimum order value to encourage customers to add more items to their cart.

Other options to reduce the expedited shipping cost include limiting your delivery range and offering this option only on lightweight products.

Written by: Omar Deryan

Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

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