New in Wonderment: Shipping Carrier Transit Benchmarks

by Brian Whalley in May 10th, 2021

“Is this happening to everyone, or just me?” 

Since we started working on Where’s My Order, the most common questions we heard around shipping were about comparing delivery times. That makes sense. You’re spending a lot of money and energy on managing a difficult shipping situation and making customers happy. We took data from nearly half a million packages tracked in the last month, and started trying to answer some of the most common questions we heard on calls. You can see our complete results so far on benchmarks.wonderment.com. We hope to grow this site over the coming months as we learn more about what data would help you stay ahead of customer experience. 

Question 1: “Where should I put my next fulfillment center?”

Growing brands look at adding fulfillment centers as a solution to many complex problems at once. Adding a new fulfillment center can improve shipping speeds, lower costs on long-distance shipments, add resilience to bigger events like severe weather storms, and more. It comes at the risk of not accomplishing those things in a significant way, while adding costs and complexity, or introducing new problems like incorrectly packed orders. 

One way to help you plan this change and anticipate the impact, is to think about which new origin city will give you the best results. We took our data and overlaid the lower 48 US states with our top origin cities, and how long it took them to deliver to a given destination city. This can help you understand the impact you’ll get on shipping times and tradeoffs from relative cities. Here's a quick demo - explore it on our benchmarking site!

transit time zone map

There are also some cool patterns you can see from this data as well - Like seeing where the direct cargo flights run, when you see a green dot on the other side of the country from a given origin. You can also compare this to the normal shipping zone map - the patterns look very similar, but this can give you a better understanding of the current delivery time experience, instead of just the cost and likely time.

In the coming weeks, we’ll add an for-your-store representation of this map Where’s My Order app, showing your performance based on your origin cities.

We combine all the carriers in this view to keep the view simple - if you’re working with a faster carrier, the delivery times might be a bit better than the average shown here, but the pattern of times will be a similar shape. Not every city is represented as an origin because we cut off cities where we don’t yet have enough data to draw a high quality map. As we grow, we’ll expand the list of selectable origins.  

Question 2: How are the carriers doing? Who’s delivering the fastest? 

The other frequent question is around relative carrier performance. How much time is really saved by using a premium carrier like FedEx or UPS? Or conversely, when working with a consolidated carrier or a carrier that leaves last-mile delivery to USPS, how does the delivery time really change? We analyzed delivery times from the four largest US carriers, and mapped them by how quickly they delivered their packages. Explore the results on our site.

transit times chart

This chart provides insight into how quickly packages are delivered by each carrier inside the US. We learned a lot from this exercise - First, USPS has a somewhat mixed reputation lately, but at least at the USPS Priority tier, it’s not entirely earned. Putting aside issues with first class and other mail types, USPS Priority is typically only a day behind the premium carriers like FedEx and UPS. While that is something, and it matters, it’s better than most of the skeptical comments they’ve had the last few months. 

This also helps quantify what you’re getting with DHL’s services - which are priced at a discount for shipments that aren’t as time sensitive. DHL services rely on USPS for the last mile fulfillment, and that handoff and then delivery in the following day or day after. I hope this helps you critically assess which carriers are going to offer the experience you want to offer. 

What other questions would you like to see answered about your shipping data and comparisons? Let me know at brian@wonderment.cc. I look forward to updating this with more views into what’s happening in the logistics world.