What is FedEx SmartPost? That’s what we will take an in-depth look into today. Along with who should use it, the cost and speed of SmartPost delivery, and other important questions.
Anyway, that’s the introduction out of the way, let’s get to it.
What is FedEx SmartPost?
FedEx SmartPost is a shipping service where FedEx works with USPS to have your mail item delivered.
The service uses FedEx’s ground shipping network for the majority of the route. However, when it comes to the local delivery of the mail item, it is completed via the U.S. Postal Service.
For example, a customer pays for FedEx SmartPost and gives the mail item to FedEx. FedEx will then transport the item to the local area of the recipient wherever in the US that might be.
This is all carried out using FedEx trucks, warehouses, and fulfillment centers.
However, during what is known as the “last mile of delivery”, FedEx will deliver the mail item to the closest USPS Office to the recipient.
The U.S Postal Service will then deliver the item during its normal residential rounds.
FedEx SmartPost Rebranded as FedEx Ground Economy
Since this article was created, FedEx SmartPost has been rebranded as FedEx Ground Economy. The service no longer uses USPS for the “Last Mile of Delivery”. However, the majority of the service details described below still apply.
Why FedEx SmartPost was Created?
FedEx started offering the hybrid model of SmartPost in an attempt to reduce the cost of the last mile of delivery.
The cost of fuel, drivers, and trucks to deliver what might only be one or two packages in an area on a given day, is fundamentally inefficient.
Delivering larger quantities of mail items to the post office and utilizing the USPS delivery infrastructure for the last mile of delivery does save money.
It is more efficient, and these cost-savings are filtered through to the customer in the form of lower delivery charges.
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FedEx SmartPost vs FedEx Ground
To customers ordering the delivery, FedEx SmartPost will feel almost indistinguishable from FedEx Ground Post.
As FedEx states, “Shippers’ and customers’ tracking abilities remain unchanged” between each service.
The way packages are picked up is also exactly the same. Essentially, the majority of the package journey is carried out using the same delivery infrastructure as Ground.
However, the main difference is that of speed and cost.
Because the last mile of delivery is handled by USPS, the package will often arrive at the recipient’s address a day (sometimes more) after arriving at the local USPS office.
A FedEx Ground delivery will not experience that holdup.
However, as already stated, the fact USPS is in charge of the last mile of delivery is a cost-saving process. The fee to deliver your package with SmartPost is cheaper than using Ground.
Another advantage to using SmartPost for shippers is that it gives the customer access to all the addresses served by USPS. (More remote areas may not be served by FedEx).
Also, there are no residential surcharges with USPS taking care of final delivery.
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What you don’t get with FedEx SmartPost
There are some other issues to be aware of when using FedEx SmartPost. There are a number of FedEx delivery features that are not available when you opt for this delivery method.
Delivery options that are unavailable when using FedEx SmartPost:
- Option for signed delivery
- A choice of delivery time
- The ability to correct the recipient address
- You cannot state the declared value of the item being sent
- There no money-back guarantees for delayed or non-delivery
- Ability to alter package destination after shipment
- You cannot request to hold the item at a FedEx location
- Only liability insurance of up to $100
If any of the above are important to the delivery of your item, you should not use FedEx SmartPost.
What items can be shipped With FedEx SmartPost?
FedEx SmartPost allows for packages up to 130” in combined length and girth to be delivered via the service.
There is also a 70 lbs weight limit on each package.
That being said, these are the maximum weight and size limits and charges can be expensive at this top end.
The service is really designed for smaller items, (considering the final delivery is carried out using USPS).
The best rates exist on small items between one and ten pounds.
Where Can You Ship To With FedEx SmartPost?
FedEx SmartPost can deliver to all areas that the USPS can deliver throughout the contiguous US.
Overseas, noncontiguous U.S territories including American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, and U.S. Virgin Islands, (see the full list in the table below), are also included.
However, FedEx SmartPost is not an international delivery service.
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When Should You Use SmartPost?
Taking all the above into account, when should you use FedEx SmartPost?
The answer is simple really. FedEx SmartPost is designed as a cost-saving delivery method with few frills.
This means that you should use it when your package is not urgent and you do not want to spend much money to have it delivered. The recipient also needs to be located within the contiguous US.
Furthermore, as insurance options are limited, it is not advised to send valuable items via SmartPost. If the package is lost, you can only recover compensation up to $100.
How Fast is FedEx SmartPost?
Now we are getting to the first of two all-important questions… how fast is FedEx SmartPost?
Although speed clearly varies due to location and distance, FedEx advertises delivery times of between two to seven days for the contiguous US.
As a rule of thumb, shippers should expect SmartPost to be between two to five days slower than standard ground shipping. In some situations that is double the delivery time.
The SmartPost unified tracking does mitigate this in some way as you can keep a track of the package throughout the journey.
Another important factor is plain expectation. As long as both shipper and recipient are aware that the parcel will take longer (and less has been charged for it), the smoother the process.
How Much Can You Save Using FedEx SmartPost?
This is the second all-important question: How much can you save using the lower-cost approach of FedEx SmartPost?
First, let’s take a look at how FedEx SmartPost rates are calculated.
How FedEx SmartPost Rates are Calculated
As with most standard delivery options, the rates are calculated based on the delivery zone of the package destination, and its weight. The process is as follows:
Step 1: Determine the postal zone of the destination
First, the postal zone of the destination is worked out. This is based on the distance between the origin of the package and its final destination (For our in-depth guide on U.S Postal Zones head here).
The table below shows the US Postal zones and distances used by FedEx SmartPost.
US Postal Zones (How FedEx SmartPost calculates rates of delivery)
- Zone 1: 1-50 miles
- Zone 2: 51-150 miles
- Zone 3: 151-300 miles
- Zone 4: 301-600 miles
- Zone 5: 601-1000 miles
- Zone 6: 1001-1400 miles
- Zone 7: 1401-1800 miles
- Zone 8: 1801 miles or greater
- Zone 26 (Z): Noncontiguous U.S., including American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and U.S. Virgin Islands.
- 17 (A): Alaska
- 9 (H): Hawaii
- 99 (M): Military (APO/FPO)
- 10 (P): Puerto Rico
Step 2: Weigh your package
The next step is to weigh your package. Rates are based on weight per pound to the destination zone.
Step 3: Calculate cost using Rates Chart
Now, using the rates chart published by FedEx Smartpost, you can calculate the cost to send it to the relevant zone number.
You can download the full chart here. However, to provide an example of how to calculate shipping costs, we have printed a small section of the chart below.
Using the chart above you can see that a 3lb package sent to Zone 5, (the equivalent of Atlanta to Addison, Texas), would cost $12.53 to send.
A 5lb package traveling a longer distance to Zone 8, would cost $16.02.
Of course, when ordering online there are rates calculators that take care of the costs for you. You can also use these calculators to check the cost of a shipment in advance.
The important point is that it is quite simple to work out the cost of a FedEx SmartPost shipment. They are certainly cheaper than competing services over the same distance,
But just how much can you save using the service..?
FedEx SmartPost is an Estimated 20% Cheaper than FedEx GroundPost
FedEx SmartPost is an estimated 20 percent cheaper than FedEx ground. These are savings that can really add up, especially for business users sending out packages that are not time-sensitive.
It is worth noting that the standard surcharges that apply throughout FedEx’s services apply here too. Namely, any additional handling fees and peak season surcharges.
SmartPost rates also increase in line with other FedEx rates. Throughout the length of the pandemic, this has been approximately 5% per year.
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Is FedEx SmartPost Reliable?
Based on the statistics offered by FedEx, SmartPost can be deemed very reliable.
The company states that FedEx SmartPost achieves a 98% on-time delivery success rate.
In situations where the package arrives at the correct hub so that forwarding of the item to the USPS office is carried out without delay, the item is delivered within the stated time delivery window.
As already mentioned, FedEx is clear with its extended delivery durations when using SmartPost.
As long as both parties (shipper and recipient) are aware of the delivery limitations, the service can be seen as achieving reliability to a high standard.
If things do go wrong, customers have access to the standard customer services offered by FedEx. Which in itself enjoys a good reputation.
FedEx SmartPost vs UPS SurePost vs DHL Parcel Metro
FedEx faces stiff competition in the battle to reduce the cost of the last mile of delivery.
However, this is often seen as inferior due to the way the two services are integrated, (UPS being slower to get mail through the USPS system).
There is also DHL and its service called Parcel Metro. This differs from SmartPost and SurePost in that USPS is not used for final delivery.
Instead, parcels are handed over to third-party couriers who drive them to their destinations.
Parcel Metro has a reputation for being faster than FedEx SmartPost, however, the latter is cheaper.
As it stands, FedEx Smartpost is a reliable low-cost method of delivering small, low-value packages throughout the contiguous US.
It is not the fastest delivery service, however, by utilizing USPS for the last mile of delivery, customers do enjoy up to 20% lower costs in comparison to FedEx Ground shipments.
For that reason, it is well worth considering next time you have a parcel to send.
I’m a 25 year veteran of USPS. I’m retired now, but as the editor of Mailbox Master, I can’t quite remove myself from the carrier industry just yet. 🙂