How Does Overnight Shipping Work?

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One thing that can take your ecommerce business from standard to exceptional is overnight shipping.

Today, customers want their items quickly, and over half of online shoppers consider fast shipping to be the most important factor when making an online purchase.

Overnight shipping can keep your customers happy and ensure you’re providing a great customer experience – but it can be expensive. 

So, how does overnight shipping work? In this article, we’ll take a look at overnight shipping and everything you need to know about it to help you decide if it’s worth the investment for your ecommerce store.

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What Is Overnight Shipping?

Overnight shipping is where you ship your products to customers overnight, ensuring they receive their items the very next day. 

Also known as next-day delivery or one-day delivery, when customers receive their orders depends on when they make their purchase. Most ecommerce stores will set a cut-off time each day for orders to qualify for delivery the next day. 

If customers miss the deadline, overnight shipping will either be unavailable or will take two days instead of one.

Overnight shipping requires a considerable amount of work and logistical planning. We’ve listed the general process below, from the moment a customer places their order right through to when they receive their package:

  1. A customer places an order before the cut-off time and selects overnight delivery as their shipping option.
  2. You or your fulfillment partner packages the items purchased.
  3. Your courier of choice receives and processes the parcel. 
  4. The package is transported overnight to the delivery hub closest to the customer’s delivery address.
  5. The package is delivered to the customer the next day.

Advice from the Experts

Top Tip: It’s a good idea to include some sort of countdown on your ecommerce store, indicating how long customers have left to complete their orders in order to receive them the next day.

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Overnight Shipping Options and Cost

There are various overnight shipping options that you can choose from for your online store including:

USPS

USPS shipping is a great option for ecommerce stores who want to go a step further with their shipping service thanks to their pre-10.30am delivery options. 

For packages under 70lbs, USPS’s overnight delivery starts at $24.70. The service is also available seven days a week and there’s no additional charge for weekend deliveries. 

UPS

UPS offers three different overnight shipping packages, all of which also include online tracking for both you and your customer. 

The three options are:

  • Next Day Air Early – this is the most expensive option but it guarantees delivery before 8am the next business day. 
  • Next Day Air – this option promises next business day delivery by 10.30am.
  • Next Day Air Saver – this is the cheapest overnight delivery option from UPS and guarantees delivery by 3pm the next business day.

FedEx

FedEx also has three different overnight delivery options for US customers, with various delivery and pick-up options.

FedEx Website
FedEx is a popular choice with small businesses looking to ship their products overnight.

The three overnight delivery packages are:

  • FedEx First Overnight – this is the most expensive option and guarantees delivery the next business day by 8am for most US locations. More remote areas will be reached by 2pm.
  • FedEx Priority Overnight – this option promises delivery by 10.30am the next working day and by 5pm for more remote US addresses.
  • FedEx Standard Overnight – this option provides next business day delivery by 3pm and is the cheapest option available from FedEx.

DHL

DHL offers international overnight delivery, however it doesn’t come cheap. To ship a 10lb box from New York to London overnight, for example, could cost anywhere between $248.86 and $226.71.

The maximum parcel weight that DHL will ship overnight is 70lb and you’ll need to bear in mind cut-off times and weekends when using the service. 

Overnight shipping comes at a price so you’ll need to set your shipping rates accordingly. While offering free shipping is a great marketing incentive for your online store, you’ll need to be prepared for your profits to take a major hit if you were to offer free overnight delivery. 

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Is Overnight Shipping Right for You?

Deciding if overnight shipping is right for your online store requires you to weigh up the benefits against your own internal systems and the desires of your customers. 

There are various benefits to offering overnight shipping, including:

  • Increased customer satisfaction.
  • Helps you to stand out against competitors who only offer standard shipping.
  • Boost customer conversions.
  • Improves the overall customer experience.
  • Helps to encourage repeat orders.
  • Increases basket and order size.

As we’ve already mentioned, overnight shipping can be expensive and you’ll need to determine if you have the budget available to make it work for you. 

You’ll also need to be sure that you (or your fulfillment partner) have the internal systems and resources in place to meet overnight shipping deadlines. You’ll need to package and send items quickly.

One of the most important things to consider when determining whether or not overnight shipping is right for you is if your customers actually want next-day delivery options.

Bath and Body Works
Ecommerce store Bath and Body Works offers customers overnight shipping for $20.99.

If your customers are happy waiting a few extra days to receive their parcels then overnight shipping may be an expense you don’t need to worry about.

Similarly, you need to determine if your customers are actually willing to pay for overnight shipping. If you notice that most customers are selecting longer and cheaper shipping options then you can probably remove overnight shipping with next to no impact on your business.

Overnight shipping works particularly well for businesses that sell items such as perishables and impulse buys.

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Applying Overnight Shipping to Your Online Store

If you decide that overnight shipping is the right choice for your online store then you’ll need to set your own shipping requirements bespoke to your ecommerce site.

The things you’ll need to decide and set include:

  • Where will you ship to? Will you just offer overnight shipping to certain locations or will you provide your customers with international overnight shipping?
  • Will you offer overnight shipping on all orders? Or will customers need to meet a certain order value or size?
  • How will you cover the cost of overnight shipping? Will you set delivery charges that cover your expenditure, or will you increase the cost of the individual products?

Overnight Shipping: Summary

As online shopping has developed and changed, so too have the needs of your ecommerce customers.

In today’s world, customers want their items quickly and aren’t always willing to put up with slow delivery times. If your shipping options aren’t up to scratch they’ll simply find another ecommerce store whose are.

To recap, some of the main benefits of offering overnight shipping include:

  • Better customer service and experience.
  • More chances of customer conversions.
  • Increased basket size potential.
  • Encourages repeat custom. 

If you think you’re ready to add overnight shipping to your ecommerce store then why not check out some of our other articles on ecommerce success such as how to find the best dropshipping suppliers? Another option to boost sales is free shipping, and we have case study for how to set up free shipping on a Shopify online store.

Remember to let us know in the comments if you decide to offer overnight shipping for your ecommerce store!

Frequently Asked Questions

Overnight shipping is where you deliver customer’s orders the next day. Once a customer has placed an order and selected overnight shipping you will need to package and transport their parcel overnight in order for it to be delivered the next day.

Overnight shipping can be pricey and how much you pay will depend on various factors including the shipping provider you choose and the weight and size of your parcels. There are various ways you can offset the costs however including setting additional delivery charges and increasing the cost of the products you sell.

Overnight shipping works particularly well for smaller items, perishables, impulse purchases, and items that have been specifically marketed for fast delivery such as “last minute gifts”.

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