We obviously can’t talk about shipping companies in Canada without mentioning Canada Post. A crown corporation, Canada Post ships to every address in Canada and has a mandate to provide postal service for all Canadians. No matter where you live, you’ll have access to a Canada Post post office or mailbox.
Shipping internationally or to the U.S. can often be expensive with Canada Post, so you may want to look for other options if that’s your target market. There have also been several Canada Post strikes in the past, the most recent in 2018, so sometimes service can be disrupted. This can lead shippers to seek out alternatives. With the ongoing pandemic, Canada Post has vastly increased its capacity to handle the increase in shipping volume and online shopping, but has had some struggles keeping up with nearly a 50% increase in demand.
Canada Post’s prices are not as cheap as U.S. rates for several reasons, but they do have less expensive options for tracked and non-tracked parcels. They are also going to be far less expensive compared to courier options.
Reasons to use: Available everywhere in Canada and cheaper than couriers.
There are several courier services available to Canadians. These are distinguished from standard mail (like Canada Post) in that they emphasize speedy delivery, security, and tracked packages. You also can arrange for parcel pickup instead of going to a drop off location. However, this improved service often comes with a price tag.
FedEx specializes in getting your parcels where you want them to go quickly and reliably. It caters to corporate clients, or retail customers who want that extra level of service. In essence, FedEx is your gold-plated shipping option.
International air freight is FedEx’s main business so this is likely where you’ll see the most savings. They’re also aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040, since all that air travel adds up to a lot of green house gases.
Reasons to use: You need the fastest possible shipping and reliability is paramount.
UPS (United Parcel Service) is FedEx’s main competitor and vice versa. While FedEx focuses more on quick delivery and international airmail, UPS has better U.S. domestic rates and charges less for larger packages. It also has a service guarantee where if the package is late, you get your money back. However, you do have to identify late packages and apply for the service guarantee refund. While temporarily removed for the pandemic, the guarantee has been reinstated for most UPS services as of April 5, 2021.
Reasons to use: Tracking and speed are important, but you need a more affordable option for shipping inside North America.
Purolator is a Canadian courier company that is primarily owned by Canada Post. Their main advantage is offering guaranteed delivery by a certain time. So for instance if you ship on Tuesday, they could guarantee delivery by 9am on Wednesday. These service guarantees were unavailable during the pandemic, but have been reintroduced as of April 6, 2021.
Reasons to use: You’re shipping in Canada or the U.S. and delivery time is important.
DHL is an international courier service owned by Deutsche Post. It was originally founded in San Franciso by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lyn (hence DHL). They partner with postal providers in the U.S. and Canada to achieve final delivery. Similar to Asendia, DHL is a solid choice for international shipping, but you’ll probably want to go with another courier for domestic or U.S. delivery.
Reasons to use: You want to ship to international customers and want a cheaper alternative to FedEx.
Cost: $$$$ (US) $$ (International)
Asendia is a service operated jointly by French La Poste and Swiss Post. Founded in 2012, it delivers to over 200 countries. It leverages the two mail networks to provide international shipping at an affordable price.
Asendia provides expertise in international shipping. It takes care of all the customs and duties issues that may arise for you, making shipping easier. It also specializes in working with ecommerce clients, so this can help streamline your business further.
Reasons to use: You want to ship to international customers, or you want to take advantage of their ecommerce services.
Cost: $$ (International)
Price Comparison and Label Printing
There are several companies that allow you to compare and contrast the rates from the main courier companies listed above. For a fee, you can use them to print off the discounted postage for your parcels. These are good options for shippers who are willing to do a little more legwork to get cheaper rates. You can then drop off your shipment at the appropriate location or arrange for a pickup from the courier of your choice. To take real advantage of these services, however, you’ll need a postage printer to print off the labels for your shipments.
Reasons to use: You want lower rates for shipping your products, but also want the speed and reliability of a courier service.
U.S. Shipping Cost Savers
Several shipping companies such as Chit Chats, DYK Post, and Stallion Express manage to reduce costs for their customers by taking advantage of USPS’s cheaper rates. By consolidating their client’s shipments, and driving them across the border, they’re able to take advantage of USPS’s economics of scale to reduce shipping costs for Canadians.
Chit Chats started when its founder, Derek Nolan, began driving his books over the border in his station wagon because shipping from Canada was too expensive. The company has grown to over 60 locations across the country and offers up to 74% off postage compared to national postal carriers.
Reasons to use: Keeping shipping costs low is vital for your business.
Which Shipping Company to Choose?
There are several options out there when it comes to shipping companies in Canada. You can go with the easy to access and (more) reasonably priced Canada Post, a courier service to get your tracked package there quickly, or a shipping service like Chit Chats that saves you and your customers money. The one you choose is going to depend on your needs and business requirements.
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