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10 Shipping Facts You Need to Know

By Last updated on: December 19, 2018

Let’s face it… without shipping, the world economy would be a much different place. Thanks to shipping, however, businesses small and large can connect with suppliers and consumers alike faster than ever before.

Parcel delivery has come a long way since the days of delivering by horseback and now consists of a complex network of carriers that include UPS, FedEx, DHL and more – as well as countless supporting companies that help manage and audit the various details that make up today’s modern shipping industry.

To help explore what you may not know about shipping – both past and present – consider the ten facts below.

#1: The first of the today’s major carriers was UPS, tracing back to 1907 when nineteen year-old James Casey founded what was first called “American Messenger Company” and later was known as “Merchants Parcel Delivery”.

In 1919, the company adopted its present name – United Parcel Service – which will celebrate its 100th year operating under UPS in 2019.

#2: The color brown – though often considered boring and bland – actually has a rich history when it comes to shipping.

Around the same time UPS had graduated to delivering parcels by truck rather than bike, founder Casey considered using yellow as their signature truck color. However, one of his business partners at the time advised him that brown trucks would not show dirt as easily and hence, brown became UPS’s signature color and still resonates with the shipping industry at large today.

#3: The corrugated cardboard box is the most used packaging for e-commerce deliveries.

In fact, it is the biggest manufactured product in the U.S. waste stream by weight – producing nearly 30 million tons annually.

#4: Free shipping (80 percent) and fast shipping (54 percent) are the top incentives for consumers to purchase more online.

Reinforcing the value of speed when it comes to shipping, 13 percent of consumers have ordered something for same-day delivery in 2017, up from 9 percent in 2016.

#5: The majority of customers check shipping speed to ensure their products are delivered on time.

In fact, a recent study from Astound Commerce identified that 66 percent of customers always check for accuracy in their scheduled deliveries – which serves as a good reminder for companies to incorporate parcel auditing into their shipping strategies as a way to help monitor whether deliveries are in fact delivered on time or if any disputable fees may have been applied to their shipments.

#6: The average annual shipping rate increase for UPS and FedEx is 4.9 percent.

On average, this rate varies between 5.5 percent to 4.4 percent depending on the weight of the package, with shipping rates of lighter loads being more expensive than heavier packages – often a surprise for those making shipments.

#7: Over 80 million customers subscribe to Amazon Prime – which highlights the value of why commerce and shipping must go hand-in-hand.

Forbes reports that a company’s ability to offer customers a Prime-like level of “inventory management and agility” will determine which retailers succeed in 2018, with shipping preferences among the top priorities for consumers when it comes to buying online.

#8: UPS and FedEx deliver 65 percent of all commercial packages. Keeping this in mind, it’s no surprise retailers rank among commercial carriers top customers.

Meanwhile, merchants are introducing drop-shipping into their e-commerce strategies more and more – with an expected 75 percent of online retailers likely to use drop-shipping by 2020.

#9: 39% of parcels shipped in the United States are shipped more than 350 miles.

This is a substantial variable for businesses to consider when they are looking to manage their shipping strategies – particularly since carriers may charge unexpected surcharges or fees based on the location of delivery, arrival day of delivery and more. For a more comprehensive overview of these variables, click here.

#10: The cost of shipping and the inconvenience of shipments being made due to returns are the #1 and #2 reasons topping customer dissatisfaction when it comes to buying online.

In this same survey, however, it was revealed that convenience is why customers prefer ecommerce to in-store shopping – proving that despite inconveniences that may be experienced, shipping is still worth their shopping logistics.

Finally, as shipping has evolved and consumer expectations have changed, it’s clear to see the importance of having a strong shipping strategy in place. Shipping times and price are both key factors for businesses to consider when creating their shipping plans, but it’s impossible for businesses to do this alone. Using insight – including the facts identified above – and data collected uniquely for your business from shipping experts such Refund Retriever, you can strengthen your shipping goals in 2018 and beyond.

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he then graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce and more. Learn more at or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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