USPS Zones 101, How to Get The Best eCommerce Shipping Rates

USPS (United States Postal Service) shipping zones are geographical reasons to which USPS shipments are delivered. These zones are defined by groups of zip codes, grouped by the distance from the point of origin (where it was shipped from) to the destination. These zones are assigned specifically based on rules and guidelines set forth by the USPS. In this guide, we’ll go into detail to explain all of the different shipping zones and other considerations when shipping your eCommerce products via USPS.

What Are USPS Shipping Zones?

Most shipping carriers determine which shipping zones are used based on the distance from where they are shipping to the destination. In the United States, there are nine different zones, which will be discussed below. In addition to that, there is also the Local designation, which is used for all destination zip codes delivering to the same zone as the origin Post Office.

Breakdown of USPS Zones for Shipping

Below, you’ll see an explanation of all nine zones and the mileage that each covers.

  • Zone 1 – 1 to 50 miles
  • Zone 2 – 51-150 miles
  • Zone 3 – 151-300 miles
  • Zone 4 – 301-600 miles
  • Zone 5 – 601-1,000 miles
  • Zone 6 – 1,001-1,400 miles
  • Zone 7 – 1,401-1,800 miles
  • Zone 8 – 1,800 miles
  • Zone 9 – This is a specially designated zone for the freely associated states that are still part of the United States, such as Micronesia and Palau.

How are shipping zones calculated?

In addition to package contents, weight, and dimensions, shipping zones calculate the cost of a shipment.

The shipping zones themselves are calculated by the mileage from the point of origin, determined in a radius rather than a straight line. For example, Zone 1 covers any destinations that are within a 50-mile radius of the origin zip code. Zone 8 covers any destination more than 1,800 miles from the origin, in any direction.

USPS Zones and eCommerce Fulfillment

In modern eCommerce fulfillment, the shipping process is a major pain point for businesses. Companies want to deliver products quickly and efficiently, but at what cost? With the USPS, shipping zones impact the fulfillment of orders in terms of how much shipping costs. It may even price some companies out of being able to use the service.

Many larger companies are working to create multiple distribution centers in order to resolve this issue—take a look at Amazon. Even though they’ve now absorbed most of their own shipping services, they also have distribution warehouses all over the place to reduce the distance packages have to travel, which reduces the shipping cost.

How do shipping zones affect cost?

When you have products like beauty, healthcare, or wellness items, quick shipping from a point of origin not far from the destination is necessary. When using the USPS, this means that packages shipping further, such as to zones 7 or 8, require expedited services as well, which means that they will incur a premium on both aspects.

How does order weight affect shipping cost by zone?

Items that weigh more naturally cost more to ship. If they are going further, they will also cost more than smaller items traveling to the same zone. It’s a matter of paying for size. Not only that, but items like liquids or fragile products could have another increase in cost even if they don’t weigh a lot.

How Can eCommerce Companies Afford to Offer Free Shipping?

Companies often try to offer free shipping because today’s customers demand it. However, the problem comes when they can’t recoup those losses because shipping costs are just so expensive. One of the ways that some eCommerce companies manage to pull this off is to work with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider for their fulfillment needs.

How Do Shipping Zones Affect Delivery Speed?

While you can pay for expedited shipping, the speed of the shipments will also be impacted by distance. Obviously, a shipment traveling 3,000 miles will take longer to arrive than a package going just 100 miles. The USPS helps customers get faster shipments by offering a premium expedited service for a fee.

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of using USPS versus UPS versus FedEx, read The Best Shipping Options for Small Businesses.

How Can a 3PL Fulfillment Partner Help Optimize Shipping?

When you choose to work with a 3PL fulfillment partner, you will be able to improve your shipping in several ways. Not only will you find cheaper shipping rates by taking advantage of the 3PL’s relationships with carriers, but you will have more flexibility over choosing the location of your fulfillment center, which means shorter shipping distances for everyone.

Benefits of a 3PL Fulfillment Partner For Shipping Zones

When you work with a 3PL partner, you won’t have to worry about shipping zones at all. In fact, you won’t even have to worry about shipping! Just sell your products and take care of your customers. They’ll take care of everything else, including the elements below.

Increase in Numbers of Fulfillment Centers

Instead of shipping your items from one location, you’ll be able to have them shipped from multiple locations that are closer to your customers, saving everyone on shipping time and costs. Small companies fall behind in the shipping game because of their limited locations, which is where a 3PL partnership can turn things around.

Automate Fulfillment and Optimize Shipping Zones

In today’s highly competitive shipping environment, automated fulfillment is the only answer. You can optimize shipping zones and automate the order fulfillment process to improve your bottom line and deliver more for your customers. These are capabilities that you wouldn’t be able to cultivate on your own, in most cases.

Decrease in Shipping Costs

When you have more locations, you are closer to customers. That means you can ship in lower zones when using USPS, saving money on shipping costs. Brands with wellness and beauty products that need short delivery cycles will also appreciate not having to pay for expedited service.

2-Day Shipping Abilities

When you choose to work with a 3PL provider, you enjoy delivering a better service for your customers when it comes to shipping. We offer convenient 2-day shipping options that are more affordable than expediting your own deliveries.

Today, that’s all that customers want. In fact, check out these staggering statistics:

  • 73% of shoppers expect quick, affordable shipments.
  • 44% of abandoned online carts are left because of shipping costs.
  • 24% of customers report canceling an order because of slow shipping.


As you can see, USPS shipping zones aren’t that complicated. It’s all about distance, so when you have your products in more places, they’ll be that much cheaper to ship because they’re closer to customers. That’s just one of the many benefits of choosing to work with a 3PL partner like Print Bind Ship.

Choosing Print Bind Ship For Better Shipping Costs

Print Bind Ship is your choice for 3PL fulfillment solutions. We offer an array of shipping services, including international shipping and affordable fulfillment options for small businesses and new eCommerce brands.

If you’re ready to partner up and get rid of your shipping headaches once and for all, give the team at Print Bind Ship a call today. We can provide you with a  and help you get everything that you need out of your eCommerce fulfillment and shipping.