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FedEx vs UPS: These couriers are both high-quality UK shipping providers with a good reputation among e-commerce retailers. When you are deciding on which courier to use they are certainly worth considering.

This guide will give you a high-level overview of both FedEx and UPS including the domestic and international shipping options they offer. It also features a comparison of the two services including costs, customer satisfaction and reliability – all criteria that are fundamental to the success of your business. Read on to discover if FedEx or UPS are the right shipping providers for your business.

But before we start, if you’d like to compare more couriers than just FedEx and UPS, feel free to download our complete Courier Comparison Guide 2021. We compare the shipping services, costs, pros, cons, and more for; Royal Mail, Hermes, FedEx, DPD, DHL Parcel, DHL Express, UPS, and Pacelforce.

FedEx: company overview

fedex vs ups

FedEx has been one of the most successful operators in the transportation sector since its inception in 1973. FedEx operates a fleet of over 25,000 vans and shuttles, 6,500 trucks and trailers and around 70 aircraft, so they are well-placed to deliver your shipments both domestically and internationally.

FedEx connects over 220 countries and territories across the globe. FedEx has its European headquarters in Hoofddorp, Netherlands and operates additional hubs in Paris, Cologne and Liege. In 2016, FedEx acquired TNT, the European delivery specialists with the aim of significantly increasing its networks on the continent.

UPS: company overview

ups vs fedex

UPS has a good reputation among UK merchants as a global and domestic shipping provider. UPS delivers 5.5 billion packages and handles 294.9 million tracking requests every year. It serves more than 11.5 million customers and operates 1,000 customer care centres around the world. Over 1,800 operating facilities across the globe are managed by UPS as well as 38,000 drop box locations and 5,100 stores.

UPS connects more than 220 countries and territories via road, railway, air and sea. The courier serves 807 airports and has 572 leased aircraft, both chartered and owned. It runs approximately 125,000 cars, vans, tractors and motorcycles of which 10,300 are alternative fuel and advanced tech vehicles. It also uses fuel-reduction strategies in its 110,000-strong fleet of ground vehicles.

Shipping in the UK with FedEx

FedEx offers a variety of express and non-express shipping services within the UK including a number of time-specific options for guaranteed deliveries.

Shipping Method Time of Delivery Deadline for delivery
FedEx Express next day – 09:00 am By 09:00 the next day This service requires the sender to send the package by 09:00 am.
FedEx Express next day delivery – 10:00 am By 10:00 the next day  This service requires the sender to send the package by 10:00 am.
FedEx Express next day delivery – 12:00 pm By 12:00 the next day This service requires the sender to send the package by 12:00 noon.
FedEx Express next day delivery – close of business By the end of the following business day This service requires the sender to send the package by the close of business hours.
FedEx Shipping from the UK on Saturday Saturday delivery For customers that need to send a parcel on Saturday, FedEx also offers timed and close of business next day services.

For the timed delivery options of 09:00 am, 10:00 am and 12:00 noon delivery may be made up to two hours before the delivery time.

Important note: the service options and delivery commitments detailed above may vary depending on where you are shipping from and to. Check with the FedEx website for more information.

FedEx non-express services in the UK

FedEx also offers a FedEx Economy service which is cheaper than FedEx Express. Deliveries take between 2-3 business days. Rates depend on where you send from and to. Check the FedEx website for more details.

Shipping in the UK with UPS

Shipping Method Time of Delivery
UPS Express Critical This is for deliveries that need to arrive on the same day. The customer is informed of the delivery time when the order is made.
UPS Express Plus  This is a one day UK delivery service. Delivery is usually by 9:00 am.
UPS Express This is a one day UK delivery service. Delivery is usually by 10.30 am.
UPS Express Saver This is a one day UK delivery service. Delivery is usually by 12:00 noon. 
UPS Standard The delivery commitment depends on the day that it is scheduled. Delivery is made by the end of the day. 

International shipping with FedEx

FedEx offers a variety of international shipping services to meet customer requirements. Please note that the delivery and transit times detailed below will differ depending on where you are sending your shipments from and to. You can check the FedEx website for more details.

FedEx Europe First

This is a premium service for time-sensitive packages. If your parcel is dropped off by a specified time it will arrive by either 09:00 am, 09:30 am or 10:00 am the next day. The FedEx Europe First also imports the next morning.

FedEx International Priority

This is an express service for international shipments. If the parcel is dropped off by a specified time it will arrive by either 09:00 am, 09:30 am or 10:00 am the next day. FedEx International Priority also imports the next day.

FedEx International Economy

This is an economy service for packages that are not time-sensitive. Package delivery takes between 2-5 days. FedEx International Economy also imports between 2-5 days.

FedEx International First

This is a premium service that will get your shipments to their destination in two days, arriving at either 08:00 am or 08:30am.

International shipping with UPS

UPS offers a comprehensive range of express international shipping services to suit e-commerce merchants. The majority of shipments arrive within three days.

Shipping Method Time of Delivery
UPS Express Plus 1-2 Business Days Delivery by 09:00 am
UPS Express NA1 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by 10:30 am or 12:00 noon
UPS Express 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by 10:30 am or 12:00 noon
UPS Worldwide Express Freight 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by end of the day
UPS Worldwide Express Freight Midday 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by end of the day. Delivery by 12:00 noon or 14:00, depending on destination postcode
UPS Express Saver 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by end of the day
UPS Expedited 1-3 Business Days Delivery typically by end of the day
UPS Standard Day and time TBC depending on what day the delivery is scheduled, though the time will be during the day

international shipping comparison

Pros and cons for shipping with FedEx

Pros Cons
Excellent worldwide coverage.  Not as many options for parcel pickup as some other UK delivery companies.
Prices on higher volumes are negotiable. No free package pickup services.  
Good tracking capabilities.  Some services are more expensive, compared to other UK delivery companies.
Good standard of personal customer service.  Limited free packaging available. 
Comprehensive insurance is available.  

Pros and cons for shipping with UPS

Pros Cons
Comprehensive global network.  For a number of key services, the costs for shipping and packaging are a lot higher than other couriers. 
Multiple types of transport available.  Additional fees and surcharges apply on heavier packages, particularly international shipments. 
Good range of shipping options including time-sensitive deliveries.  No free pick-up services on offer. 
Good experience managing a variety of shipment types.  No delivery on Saturday with some services. 
Good range of options available for parcel drop-offs and pickups.
Excellent tracking capabilities. 

FedEx vs UPS: What are the key differences between the two?

So, now you have a good understanding of the key delivery services available from both FedEx and UPS, the next step is to work out which is the best shipping company for you. This section will guide you through the differences between costs for domestic and international shipping, whether FedEx is cheaper than UPS or vice versa, and how the two couriers compare with customer satisfaction and reliability. We’ll also give an overview of how DHL stacks up against FedEx and UPS to help you make the right decision for your e-commerce business.

Unless otherwise stated, all prices are VAT inclusive.

courier plane

FedEx vs UPS: Shipping costs

Of course, maybe the most important thing to consider when choosing your delivery company and shipping methods is the costs. Below, we have provided a snapshot of some of the costs for these two couriers.

FedEx vs UPS: Domestic shipping costs

Delivery Destinations Shipping Method Delivery Time Weight Cost
Bristol to London FedEx Next Day By the end of the following business day Up to 10kg £15.49
Bristol to London FedEx Economy Typically 2-3 business days Up to 10kg £12.91
Bristol to London UPS Express Delivery typically by 10:30 am the next day 0-3kg £17.85
Bristol to London UPS Express Delivery typically by 10:30 am the next day 3-6kg £19.35
Bristol to London UPS Express Saver Delivery by 12:00 noon the next day 0-3kg £17.10

FedEx vs UPS: International shipping costs (UK to Europe)

Delivery Destinations Shipping Method Delivery Time Weight Cost
Bristol, UK to Berlin, Germany FedEx International Priority Delivered by 12:00 noon the next day 1kg package £80.93
Bristol, UK to Berlin, Germany FedEx International Economy Typically 2-5 business days 1kg package £65.07
Bristol, UK to Berlin, Germany UPS Express Delivery typically by 10:30 am in 1-2 days 0-3kg £37.90
Bristol, UK to Berlin, Germany UPS Express Saver Delivery typically by the end of the next day 0-3kg £35.30

FedEx vs UPS: International shipping costs (UK to USA)

Delivery Destinations Shipping Method Delivery Time Weight Cost
UK to New York, US FedEx International Economy Delivery between 2-5 days 1kg package £79.86
UK to New York, US FedEx International Priority Depending on the drop off time, the package will arrive by either 9am, 9.30am or 10am the next day 1kg package £85.98
UK to New York, US UPS Express Delivery typically by 10:30 am the next day 0-3kg £30.60
UK to New York, US UPS Express Saver Delivery typically by the end of the next day 0-3kg £28.80

As you can see, both delivery companies offer similar delivery times for shipping services within the UK, so are both good choices for e-commerce retailers that want to provide a great level of customer service. Due to its extensive network, UPS generally offers faster delivery times for international services than FedEx, though of course this depends on the service you pay for, where you are shipping from and to, and the time you drop your package off.

DHL vs FedEx vs UPS

DHL vs FedEx vs ups

DHL is another highly reputable shipping company and is well worth considering when deciding on the right company to support your business and customers. Here is an overview of DHL and how it compares to both FedEx and UPS.

DHL: Company overview

Like FedEx and UPS, DHL has a good reputation as a domestic and international delivery specialist in the UK. DHL delivers over 1.3bn parcels every year and operates a network of over 50 depots, 3,500 ServicePoints and 2,000 vehicles across the UK. The company employs half a million people in over 220 countries.

DHL offers a wide choice of delivery, drop-off and collection options and good notification and tracking services. It’s known for its customer-friendly returns process and offers a guaranteed delivery service in an exact time frame. Compared to some competitors it is not the cheapest courier for domestic deliveries (unless it’s a time-critical delivery). But if you’re a business that needs international shipping services it could prove to be a cost-effective option. Want to find out more? Visit our free guide on shipping with DHL.

How does DHL compare with FedEx and UPS?

All three couriers provide a good range of domestic and international shipping services but they differ in service offering and strengths and weaknesses. FedEx is generally a better option for overnight delivery within the UK but for same day delivery services DHL usually wins on costs. There isn’t a huge difference between the pricing offered by DHL and UPS though this of course depends on where you are sending from and to, and what service you require. If you ship to the US, UPS is a better option than DHL as it has a more established network. All three couriers offer a good range of delivery signature and tracking services.

Both UPS and DHL offer integrations with e-commerce platforms but this is not currently offered by FedEx. DHL has the strongest record of reducing carbon emissions among the three delivery companies so it would be a good choice for environmentally-conscious retailers, especially when shipping internationally.

How much does DHL cost?

Delivery Destination Delivery Time Weight Cost
Domestic UK delivery Delivery within 1 working day Package up to 1.5kg £13.95
Delivery within the EU Delivery within 1-2 working days Package up to 1.5kg £33.95
Delivery to US, Canada and Mexico Delivery within 1-3 working days Package up to 1.5kg £37.95
Rest of world Delivery within 1-4 working days Package up to 1.5kg £49.95

Top tip: When deciding on the right shipping provider for you, keep in mind the sizes of packages you send most regularly and to what destinations. And remember, you don’t need to use one shipping provider exclusively. If you need to accommodate a variety of customer requirements then why not use more than one courier?

FedEx vs UPS: Customer satisfaction

Taking a look at the customer satisfaction scores and customer feedback for shipping companies is a good way of gauging how likely you are to be happy with their service. Though, it’s important to remember that reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt, in some circumstances! With this in mind, let’s take a look at how FedEx and UPS compare in terms of customer satisfaction.

Important note: The information below is taken from ACSI scores. For readers who aren’t familiar, ACSI stands for American Customer Satisfaction Index. This is a reputable economic indicator that calculates how happy customers in the US have been with a particular company’s services.

UPS had the highest ACSI customer satisfaction rate in 2020 with an impressive score of 80 points. FedEx was only marginally behind with 76 points so it’s clear to see that the efforts of both companies have not gone unnoticed.

FedEx earned a good rating on Forbes Top Regarded Companies, coming in at #35 in 2019. UPS was rated #185 in the same year, which is still a highly respectable score. FedEx was placed #99 in Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands in 2020 and UPS came in higher at #48 on the same list.

FedEx vs UPS: Reliability

Service reliability is vital for ambitious e-commerce retailers. Here is an overview of how reliable FedEx and UPS are.

Both UPS and FedEx are highly regarded and trusted global delivery companies and are considered to be reliable to provide a consistent service offering. This is reflected in their scores on delivery timeline with both companies meeting the deadline in 97% of deliveries.

Understanding their customers’ need for comprehensive and accurate visibility on their shipments, both couriers provide powerful real-time tracking systems that can be easily accessed by both the merchant and their own customers.

In summary: which is the best courier to choose for your business? 

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right shipping provider for your business. From reliability to quality and choice of services, to customer support and costs – every element is vital for delivering a great customer experience and keeping up with the competition. When making your choice, or choices, always keep your key service requirements in mind. 

Answering the following questions is a good place to start: 

  1. What destinations do you need to ship to on a regular basis? 
  2. What weight(s) are the majority of your packages?
  3. What budgets/costs do you need to adhere to? 
  4. What are your tracking requirements?
  5. Would you benefit from a choice of pickup or drop off services?  
  6. Will you need physical customer support? 
  7. What kind of notification services will you need?
  8. Do you need any e-commerce plugins or integrations? 

So, which is the service that might suit your business?

FedEx shipping services will suit e-commerce retailers who:

  • Send large or heavy packages on a regular basis.
  • Send large volumes and want to control costs (preferential rates can be negotiated).
  • Send packages with sensitive or expensive contents.
  • Need robust insurance cover.
  • Don’t need to send parcels internationally on a regular basis.
  • Don’t require free pickup services.
  • Might require support when sending packages overseas (FedEx offers a tool which helps less experienced retailers navigate processes).
  • Require powerful, accurate tracking.

UPS shipping services should suit e-commerce retailers who:

  • Mostly send small packages.
  • Usually send smaller packages to international locations (larger parcels can incur surcharges).
  • Would like a choice of time-sensitive delivery services.
  • Require accurate real-time tracking.
  • Would benefit from a choice of parcel drop-offs and pickups.
  • Would like to subscribe for regular parcel pickup services.
  • Would benefit from additional tools to help streamline processes such as plug-in gives great visibility of all your shipping activity.
  • Would like to integrate shipping with e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce, Prestashop, Opencart and Magento.

We’ve mentioned this before, but it really does bear repeating – if you’re an ambitious retailer that wants the best standard of shipping service for both your business and customers, you don’t need to opt for a single provider. Most businesses choose to work with several delivery companies to meet their needs. So, if one courier offers better rates and services for your UK customers and another fits the bill for your international deliveries then that’s the mix of solutions for you. It all depends on your needs and how you want your business to grow.

And if you like the idea of having more choice and control of your shipping, plus saving time on admin and controlling costs in the process, simply sign up to ship using a multi-courier strategy with Sendcloud! Find out more today.

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