Shipping options when shopping online

Shipping options when shopping online

Shipping options available when shopping online including Media Mail to oversize curbside deliveries

Photo Credit: Lisa F. Young
By Kevin VanGinkel

Shopping online has many advantages. You can browse the stores and online shops from the comfort of your home or during breaks at work. You do not have to fight the other customers or wait in long lines to check out. The assortment is often far better than anything you will find in your local establishments. Prices can even be negotiable, especially when taking advantage of shopping options such as EBay. However, whatever you purchase must be shipped. This fact alone is oftentimes enough to sway people away from the world of shopping online. Knowing your shipping options can make a huge difference in deciding whether to make a purchase online or look elsewhere for the wanted item.

Keep in mind that many online stores will not offer you any choice in shipping your order beyond possibly upgrading the shipping to receive the order quicker. If time is a priority, inquire if the company has any shipping options to better suit your needs even if no choices exist on their order form. Check their customer service page for information on how to contact them with any issues, and do so before you place the order.

Remember that many of the shipping options will require that someone be available to sign for the delivered item. If that is not a possibility, make sure other arrangements are made with the carrier before delivery.

With that said, some of the choices that will be available to you include the following:

Delivery to a Local Store

If the online store has a retail outlet within driving distance, you can often have your purchase shipped directly to the store where you can pick it up in person. The advantage of this is often reflected in reduced shipping fees or possibly even free shipping.


The United Stated Postal Service has many options available for shipping assorted sized packages.

If you are shopping for media items, such as books, DVD’s, or CD’s, media mail is a cost effective way to have them shipped to you. In addition, online stores that sell items such as these often offer this option in their list of shipping choices. If you are buying one of these items from an online auction or outlet such as, keep this choice in mind to keep the overall cost of the item within reason.

For items of a lightweight nature less than four pounds, that you need shipped international, you can request that items be sent Global Priority Mail.

Express Mail, Parcel Post, Priority Mail, and First Class are also available options through the USPS when having items shipped. Many of these choices also include tracking, which allows you to track your order from the minute the order is handed over to the USPS, right to your doorstep.

Federal Express, United Parcel Service, DHL

Companies such as Federal Express, UPS, and DHL handle the majority of shipping packages along with the USPS worldwide. These companies are capable of shipping nearly any product you could conceivably order online except for extremely oversize products. Most also offer tracking of your shipment.

Oversize Products

Many products such as couches, beds, other large furniture items, and large televisions may have special delivery rules. The shipping fee usually only includes delivery to the ground floor entrance. Any delivery beyond that point may incur additional fees. If an item must be carried up a flight of stairs, you will most likely incur an extra charge right there. If a delivery company has to wait for someone to arrive, they will most likely charge you a wait fee in addition to the delivery fee. If you happen to miss a delivery of this type, you are often charged an extra fee that can easily run in the hundreds. Only order and set up delivery of an item such as this if you can be certain that someone will be around to except delivery.

You can pre-arrange with some companies to not only deliver but also install an item. Mattresses often come with this as an added option at the time of ordering.

Work out any issues that may concern a delivery before placing the order. By doing so, you will be able to have your order delivered in the manner that is most convenient for you.

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