USPS Mail Types: Which Mail Service is Right for My Business?

shipping via usps is a popular option for many e-commerce businesses. With USPS, you get cost-effective shipping options comparable to FedEx and UPS. their flat rate shipping options are also a popular choice because they allow you to forecast your costs.

one of the main benefits of shipping through usps is how easy it is. All you have to do is print labels and drop the packages off at your local USPS post office or drop box (depending on quantity). but what types of shipping options and mail classes are best for your business?

In this guide, we’ll go over USPS mail types, pricing, delivery options, and more so you know which options to choose when using USPS for eCommerce shipping.

Know Your Mail Classes: Why It Matters For Ecommerce Businesses

Your business ships hundreds or even thousands of packages a month. even a small $1-$2 difference in shipping costs can have a big impact on your profit margins. You could receive packages in a couple of days with a higher shipping cost, but you could see cost savings of up to 30% if you opt for four-day delivery.

That’s why it’s important to know about USPS mail classes. knowing the different classes of mail allows you to choose the correct speed and cost for each package so you can offer the correct shipping options to customers without reducing your profits.

types of usps mail: the 6 kinds of usps mail

The USPS divides mail into six different services called classes. each class of mail has different levels of service, shipping prices, and pre-sorting requirements.

For most shipments, the content of the material and the postage will determine the class of mail you select. here are the 6 classes:

  1. priority mail express (fastest shipping option)
  2. priority mail
  3. first-class mail
  4. usps marketing mail
  5. Newspapers
  6. USPS Parcel Services/Retail Point of Sale

Not sure which mail class is right for you to send? take a look at the matrix below to determine which mail class best fits your priorities. For most e-commerce businesses, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail, and First Class Mail will be the most commonly used mail classes.

USPS classes of mail

1. priority mail

Priority mail is often considered the best value for e-commerce shipping. It’s not as quick as the 1-2 day shipping options available with Expedited Priority Mail, but it offers fast delivery at a much more convenient shipping cost for sellers.

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The cost of priority mail is determined by the distance packages travel to reach their destination (the further you travel, the more you pay for postage). the actual distance is measured by “zones”. shipping zones range from zone 1 (local, near you) to zone 9 (far away from you). the further the mail travels, the more zones it crosses and the more postage you pay.

usps offers special pricing for priority mail flat rate envelopes or boxes. With a 70-pound weight limit, anything that will fit in a USPS-provided Priority Mail flat-rate box can be shipped for a flat-rate price. Many priority mail envelopes, boxes, and tubes are available for free at your local post office. all packaging can be ordered online at

2. urgent express mail

priority mail express is the fastest delivery option offered by the usps. provides guaranteed expedited service 1 or 2 days before 3 p.m. for any package that can be mailed. better yet, it includes $100 of insurance coverage. Priority Mail Express can even deliver 365 days a year to many locations in the United States. Sunday or holiday can also be done at an additional cost.

If your top priority is getting your package to its destination overnight, then priority express mail is the best option. however, many e-commerce companies do not require overnight delivery for their packages. priority express mail is likely to only be used in extreme cases or if you want to offer overnight delivery as a competitive advantage for your business.

priority mail express prices are based on the weight of the part and the distance the part travels, except when using the flat rate priority mail express package provided by usps.

3. first class mail

first class mail is another popular option if you sell light goods. With a delivery speed of 1-3 days, it offers a cost-effective shipping option for growing e-commerce businesses.

First class mail costs $0.55 per envelope, regardless of how far the mail travels. first class postage includes forwarding and return services. You can expand First Class Mail offerings by adding additional services such as Registered Mail and Certified Mail. These services are available for an additional charge.

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Many first-class mailers use postcards and first-class mailers because, if you’re shipping at single-piece prices, there’s no special payment method, no postage permit, and no extra time to presort the mail. you just put a stamp on it and drop it off at a usps mailbox or post office.

4. usps marketing mail

E-commerce companies use USPS Marketing Mail to send marketing materials. If you have a catalog, flyers, coupons, or anything else promotional to send, consider using USPS Marketing Mail.

all prices for usps marketing mail are wholesale prices, and each shipment must meet a minimum quantity of 200 pieces or 50 pounds of mail. no one piece usps marketing mail postage. At USPS Marketing Mail, there are prices for letters, flat/oversized envelopes, parcels, marketing packs, and select light packs.

5. newspapers

The Periodicals mail class is designed for newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. As an eCommerce business, you will almost never use this option unless you have a physical print magazine.

6. parcel/usps ground services

parcel services is a collective term used for three specific classes of mail: bound print material, multimedia mail, and library mail. each subclass is best suited to a certain type of mail. As an eCommerce business, these options may not apply to your business.

usps parcel services and retail ground packages do not receive expedited service. these do not include free shipping and returns.

usps retail ground is intended primarily for one-piece shipments consisting of packages that are not intended to be shipped as first class mail and include usps tracking at no additional charge. it is commonly used for gifts and merchandise. there are no wholesale prices for usps retail land.

what kind of usps mail is right for your ecommerce business?

For most e-commerce businesses, priority mail meets their standard delivery needs and is the most cost-effective option. Due to its attractive flat rate options and moderate delivery speed, you’ll see many benefits from using Priority Mail as your default USPS shipping method. It will depend on the weight of the package you are shipping, how quickly it needs to arrive, and how much you want to spend.

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Express Priority Mail and Marketing Mail are also good options depending on the types of products and items you are shipping.

faster: urgent express mail

Overnight and two-day shipping are becoming popular shipping options for many e-commerce businesses because customers want their products delivered faster than ever. If you want to offer faster delivery options, priority mail express will be a good option for you. just know that it will be a much higher shipping cost than priority mail, so charge your customers accordingly.

most profitable: priority mail

priority mail is a day or two slower than priority express mail, but it’s also much cheaper. Like we said before, this is a great default shipping option when shipping through usps.

for specific articles: marketing mail & service packs

These services are for marketing-related items only. if you are sending marketing material, these are the services for you. There are many benefits to continuing to use direct mail for your eCommerce business, so consider using marketing mail if you want to send promotional materials.

get discounts on usps shipping, with shipbob!

Depending on the number of packages you ship, you may be able to get volume discounts with usps. You’ll need to contact a USPS representative and then work with them to set up the discounts, which can take a few weeks. There’s also an easier method to get USPS shipping discounts: partner with shipbob!

shipbob helps e-commerce businesses across the country get deep discounts on shipping costs. If you ship often, shipbob discounts could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year.


shipping with usps is a great option for your e-commerce business due to its simple cost structure and flexible shipping options. Getting started with USPS is easy and can save you money compared to carriers like UPS and FedEx at the cost of faster delivery times.

if you need help with usps shipping and want shipping discounts, learn how shipbob can make the usps shipping process easier. To get started, click the button below.

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