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UPS vs FedEx: Who Ships More?

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In America, shipping is synonymous with UPS or FedEx – depending on who you are. While the US Postal Service is larger by almost every measure, its package shipping program is no bigger than either of the major businesses. While I still love the never-say-die attitude of the USPS, most folks who have the option will choose a private carrier.

Interestingly, while the USPS has historically served as the last mile solution for UPS and FedEx, that may soon be changing. There are whisperings that the two private companies are going to take on more of those final deliveries, in an attempt to claw back some of that business.

Right now, the Postal Service is out delivering something close to a third of FedEx’s and UPS’s ground shipments. If those companies can find a way to bring those deliveries in-house, the numbers shown here could change drastically.

UPS and FedEx by the numbers

UPS is the longer running company, and it’s slightly bigger – if you consider over 11 million dail shipments and $10 billion in annual revenue slight. FedEx has a very large international shipping business, generating 24% of its revenue internationally, while UPS gets just 20% of its revenue from international shipping.

FedEx’s international business has been a real winner – see the TNT acquisition below. Even though the world economy has still be ticking along — or even falling apart, in some regions — FedEx has been able to shave costs and increase productivity around the world by employing new software and keeping airplane maintenance costs under control.

One of FedEx’s most interesting productivity moves is its new package sorting system, which can now bundle shipments with a common destination earlier on in the shipping process, cutting down on repeated work and deliveries and dropping last mile costs.

Of the challenges facing both businesses, fuel surcharges may be looming largest right now. This past year, UPS announced a 0.3% drop in per-piece revenue, impacted partially by the decrease in fuel surcharges, with FedEx having a similar experience.

FedEx acquires TNT Express

In 2016, FedEx finished its acquisition of TNT Express, a $4.8 billion deal. The Dutch company added around 30,000 vehicles and 56,000 employees to FedEx. While the company is a small player in terms of worldwide delivery – it ships just 1 million daily packages versus FedEx’s 11.5 million – TNT Express has a strong foothold in Europe.

FedEx also gets a last laugh, as EU regulators had rejected a UPS-TNT merger request back in 2013.

The TNT deal should continue to help FedEx grow, especially in the European market, over the next few years. Check back in 2018 to see if that all worked out as planned.

The final mile (of this post)

If you’re company is looking to increase its productivity, check out Capterra’s full logistics directory, which is full of packages designed to make your life easier. Also, check back in early November when the Capterra logistics blog takes a deeper dive into fuel surcharges, and how they’re affecting businesses large and small.

Looking for Logistics software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Logistics software solutions.

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About the Author

Andrew Marder

Andrew Marder is a writer for Capterra. His background is in retail management, banking, and financial writing. When he’s not working, Andrew enjoys spending time with his son and playing board games of all stripes.


Why would I choose the private carriers as your articles states. USPS is cheaper and has more locations to ship from.

UPS is by far the best choice for shipping, they have never once let me down, and I’d even pay a couple dollars more per package for the piece of mind and ease of my pick ups and deliveries. USPS has lost over 10 packages of mine in the last 3 years, with no explanation and/or resolution, they have zero tracking mechanisms that compare to the logistics of UPS. I have completely given up on Fedex, as their pickups are NEVER on time, and their “next day air” has taken numerous days more than a handful of times. I stick with what works, and that’s UPS, no wonder they make more money, consumers and businesses want customer service, loyalty and a proven track record, rather than saving a few dollars.

I hate using USPS. This article failed to mention that even though USPS “dwarfs” the private carriers they are also private under the guise of government. They are inefficient and their processes are archaic. I had a package that was out for delivery almost two weeks before it got delivered through them. UPS and FedEx delivers a portion of their parcels. I can’t say just how much goes through them but I know it’s done. USPS’ employees work slowly, drivers look sloppy often wearing street clothes to deliver. While USPS is cheaper you have to cross your fingers once you give them your package. With the other carriers I can trust it will be there. I get things happen, it sucks when it does but holistically I would rather pay a few bucks more.

Ouf, 800 million shipment difference, NOT 1.2 billion as written in the article.

Neil Jones, You would be mistaken. The USPS delivers a portion of UPS and FedEx packages under a last mile agreement. UPS and FedEx do not deliver any USPS packages. FedEx does provide some long distance transportation services for USPS, but no delivery.

Additionally, the article did not “fail” to mention the USPS is not private because it is not a private entity. It is a government entity. However, it is not operated with tax dollars. It is operated solely on the revenue generated from the sale of postal products and services.

USPS usually isn’t reliable I found. UPS is always my favorite and on time. I work at UPS currently and from what my manager said, ups and FedEx ship 90% of packages. If you ship through ups and want the package to arrive safe, put it in a good box. Easier to handle so we don’t have to be rough with it. Also know they will be tossed around slightly. Safest option by far is air mail. The air pods are much much smaller than semis and distance to the belts are much shorter further reducing damaging possibilitys. Also we don’t have to toss them around to get them onto the belts.

The author is misleading the reader with the statement that Fedex’s international businessis greater than UPS by stating that they receive 24% of their revenue from international business vs 20% by UPS from international business. FedEx’s 24% is smaller than UPS’s 20% due to almost double the profits by UPS.
The USPS is underwritten by the tax payer, nearly 50% of the delivery cost of every package they deliver is paid for by the tax payer. Want to save money tell all the people you know to use anyone other than the USPS do deliver their packages.

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