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Is FedEx SmartPost Too Slow?

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Is FedEx SmartPost Too Slow?

published on 14.04.2017 in Blog by

Is FedEx SmartPost Slow or Bad?As an ecommerce order fulfillment company that ships several thousand packages each year via FedEx SmartPost, we often get questions from online sellers about the service…

– Is it too slow?

– Is it unreliable?

– Does USPS deliver the packages?

– Should I use it to ship packages to my ecommerce customers?

These are all great questions. And to help provide a little more context, I wanted to start off by defining SmartPost….

What is FedEx SmartPost?

FedEx SmartPost, which is similar to UPS SurePost, is a hybrid shipping service with which FedEx will pick up packages from the shipping destination, and then hand the packages off to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for the final delivery to the end customer.

What’s unique about SmartPost is that there are two different carriers (FedEx and USPS) handling every package. One of the reasons this service was created is that, each day, the USPS is already visiting nearly every address in the United States to deliver mail, so there is efficiency and little-added cost for USPS to deliver small packages to residences, which is not necessarily the case with FedEx and UPS.

There are common claims associated with SmartPost relative to the speed, reliability, and organization of the service. Therefore, we wanted to not only answer a few FAQs, but also discuss those claims, starting with…

Claim #1 = FEDEX SMARTPOST IS SLOW

Rating:

Mostly True

Overview:

Slow is a relative term, which means, in order to conclude whether or not SmartPost is actually slow, we need to compare it to something.

As mentioned, our order fulfillment center ships thousands of FedEx SmartPost shipments each year. In addition, we ship tens of thousands of packages using a variety of other shipping methods, including….

– FedEx Home Delivery
– FedEx Ground
– FedEx 2-Day
– FedEx Overnight
– USPS First Class
– USPS Priority Mail
– USPS Media Mail

The transit times with these various ship methods vary quite a bit. For instance, FedEx 2-Day is a guaranteed two-day service, which means the packages ship via air. With USPS Media Mail, it’s a lower-level service and transit times may take a week or more. Therefore, let’s compare the speed of two ground ship methods from the same carrier…..

FedEx SmartPost vs. Ground & Home Delivery

– FedEx Ground is a service that averages roughly 2.5 days of transit time within the U.S., and is applicable when shipping to commercial locations.

– FedEx Home Delivery is a service that averages roughly 2.5 days of transit time within the U.S., and is applicable when shipping to residences.

– FedEx SmartPost is a service that averages roughly 4 days of transit time within the U.S., and can be used to ship to both commercial locations and residences.

So, how fast is FedEx SmartPost? Based on our experience, it takes, on average, about 1.5 days longer for SmartPost packages to arrive compared to Ground and Home Delivery.

The question then becomes….is that too slow?

In some situations, the answer is yes, and, to keep your customer happy, SmartPost would not be the right choice.

However, as has been shown repeatedly, such as in last year’s Pulse of the Online Shopper Report from UPS, consumers are typically willing to wait longer periods of time if the shipping is either free or very inexpensive. In fact, the study showed that the average consumer is willing to wait up to six days if they pay for delivery, and seven days for free delivery!

This is significant because, while we’ve really only been discussing speed, cost is obviously a consideration among consumers, and the cost for SmartPost, particularly for lower-weight packages (up to about 9 lbs) is generally less than the cost of Ground and Home Delivery.

Therefore, if you have a contract with FedEx to use SmartPost (or are using a fulfillment center that does), during the checkout process on your shopping cart, a best practice is to simply give your customers shipping options in addition to SmartPost, confirm the transit time and cost associated with each option, and allow them to choose what’s right for them.

To sum up the facts surrounding the claim that FedEx SmartPost is slow, when comparing to other commonly-used shipping options, that claim is mostly true. However, when the question becomes….Is SmartPost too slow?…..well, that’s up to you and your customers to decide.

Claim #2 = FEDEX SMARTPOST IS USPS

Rating:

Half True

Overview:

We get many people that ask if SmartPost is a USPS service. The answer is technically no, as it’s a product offered from FedEx. However, as discussed, the claim is half true when you consider that the Postal Service does handle SmartPost packages.

Because USPS handles the final delivery with these packages, this service does have advantages when shipping to residences, including….

– Coverage to every residential address in the U.S., including API, FPO and DPO
– No residential surcharges
– Saturday delivery
– Full tracking and visibility

SmartPost is also available to ship to Alaska and Hawaii, although the transit times can be fairly lengthy for these destinations outside of the contiguous U.S.

Claim #3 = FEDEX SMARTPOST IS BAD

Rating:

Mostly False

Overview:

We also hear claims that FedEx SmartPost is bad, which can mean a few things, but, in general, folks are referring to the reliability of the service.

Based on our experience and data, while transit times are longer than Ground and Home Delivery, the reliability of SmartPost is quite good, meaning it consistently reaches its destination in the timeframe specified by FedEx.

Back in the early days of SmartPost, it is true that the service was sketchy, and one reason for this is that it took some time for FedEx and USPS to get everyone on the same page within both organizations, including how shipping labels should be formatted, how tracking numbers should be generated, dedicated processing centers, etc.

However, now that the service has been around for several years, and now that FedEx has made a number of changes to its network, including the addition of new hubs, SmartPost has not only become more reliable, the transit times have also been reduced over the years.

When compared to regular home delivery or ground services offered from FedEx and other carriers, SmartPost can be considered a unique service, although we would not consider it to be a “bad” service. Instead, it’s a smart, strategic service that plays off the strengths of both FedEx and USPS, and is one that certainly has its place with small parcel ecommerce order fulfillment.

Sources:

http://www.fedex.com/us/smart-post/outbound.html
https://about.usps.com/strategic-planning/cs09/CSPO_09_011.htm
https://solvers.ups.com/assets/2016_UPS_Pulse_of_the_Online_Shopper.pdf

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Comments

42 Responses to “Is FedEx SmartPost Too Slow?”
  1. m miller says:

    Smartpost and Surepost are horrible. Disagree with time frames given above on delivery. Used to be shipping manager and refused to use either after discovering how horrible they are. Going usps is much quicker. Either stay with fedex or usps. Middle man just slows package down. I cringe every time I see smartpost has been used.

    • Steve Bulger says:

      Thanks for the comment. It is true that the average transit time for SmartPost and SurePost is slower than some of their other shipping services, such as Ground and Home Delivery. It is also true that these services may take longer to certain parts of the U.S., so my goal here was to pass along information that corresponds with data we’ve obtained in shipping tens of thousands of SmartPost packages over the past year. For any given merchant, depending on their customer base, where they distribute from, and the service-level agreement they’ve established with FedEx and/or UPS, their experience may be a bit different.

      Thanks again,
      Steve Bulger

  2. Taz says:

    As a consumer I have to tell you that Smartpost is anything but – and if it only added an additional day and a half to transit time it would be a miracle. The ACTUAL norm is more like an additional 3-5 days. Example: I live in Kansas. I ordered something from a company located in Aurora CO (about a 5 hour drive from here). They shipped my package out via Smartpost, and it arrived in Lenexa KS the next day (when using FedEx, I know that when it hits Lexexa it will be here the next day). 22 hours later it was scanned in at the USPS facility in KC (which is actually only 30 minutes away if traffic is bad). It then took 3 days (4 if you count the Sunday) to get from KC to my post office, and then it didn’t get sorted for delivery until the next day. So 7 business days to get a package I could have had in 2 had they used FedEx ground or sent it straight through USPS.

    • Sue says:

      FedEx ground to my destination 3 days. Smart post so far 10 days. I called FedEx to get an estimate of delivery time for smartpost and they said we can’t tell you that but that when you print the label it will tell me. I explained that I have been tracking a shipment sent to me and it has been over 10 days. I just watched it take 7 hours to go 27 miles. It has been in my state for 6 days They would not help me at all. The customer service person was so rude that she said 10+ days. I have had UPS smart post and it is ground plus 1 day but not with FedEx nor do they care. My package has been as close as 50 miles to me but just keeps going around in circles.

      • Laurie says:

        I would definitely say it is more than an added 1.5 days longer and NOT efficient! I ordered a package from Aurora, CO, and I have bemusedly watched it dance across the west (Auroro, CO, to Sacramento, CA, to Reno, NV, to Kent, WA). I, however, am located in Oregon…maybe it will hop over to Idaho before finally making into my state?!?

  3. Shianne says:

    I used FedEx smartpost because that was the only option when ordering from elf cosmetics. My package was ordered 4/30 and was to arrive 5/6. It went to Memphis TN which usually using FedEx ground it goes from there to KY. Well when I rechecked my order my arrival date was changed to 5/8 and my package was sent from Tennessee to Minnesota. I live in Kentucky so I don’t understand why it was sent to Minnesota. It added days to my estimated delivery, it now has to backtrack to Kentucky, and it is just a hastle to get my shipment. I am very unsatisfied I wish it would of been sent a different way because it is taking way longer than it should using smartpost.

    • Robert says:

      Having same issue (sorta) Item shipped from CA to Louisiana through Memphis. Took two days to get to Memphis and no updates in 5 days. On day seven now and no tracking update on Fedex or USPS. Deliver says for the 10th. I don’t know where they get 3-5 days from! Also you cannot upgrade or intercept the package. I could have driven there and back myself in less time.

  4. ANITA RAPP says:

    I hate both of these secondary delivery services. When I track that the package has been handed off I can count on an additional 2 days. But most annoying is that they dump the deliveries at the concierge building and not the address that is actually printed on the package. I have to wait for it to be logged in; and then get redressed or go out in bad weather to retrieve. How is that even legal?

  5. Milton says:

    They should call it slow post. I had a package that came from Rialto California. It usually takes two days to get said package from there using FedEx. They shipped the package to Chicago Illinois where I live then they shipped the package two New Berlin Wisconsin? Why would they do that? They added two days to ship the package from there to Chicago. Now the package will take one day extra to be shipped to my house. This isn’t the only package that has taken too long to ship. Sure post is no good. It would be better to either use FedEx ground or the United States Postal Service.

  6. isa shisha says:

    HORRIBLE! Its taken me now 11 days to get a package from NJ to CA!!! Are they bringing it by horse and buggy or what? Ive gotten packages from out of the states way faster than this…which is worse than ground mail. ALL sellers should CLEARLY state this is the delivery they are using and to expect a long…long…long azz wait!

  7. Nicole says:

    I’ve had packages through Fedex smartpost plenty of times. A few times it’s been fairly quick. Other times it’s been horribly inefficient. I’ve even got a package on its way right now that is going the inefficient route. It’s made fair transit time all the way to my state. I live maybe 10 minutes from a ground location. It travelled through there and they sent it to another state where there is a smartpost hub probably 4 to 5 hours from me. Then they’ll likely send it back down to the post office by tomorrow afternoon. It will be too late for sorting and delivery. So if I’m lucky I’ll get it Friday. That’s pretty inefficient just to send it through their smartpost hub. Just saying.

  8. Laura says:

    Not a fan. Our USPS always says our boxes are too large for the mailboxes so we have to drive 30 minutes to pick them up at the Post Office. FedEx should offer the consumer a choice to upgrade to real FedEx.

  9. john smith says:

    too many complaints. the people moving packages are working hard. maybe there are just too many packages to move. if you want the package faster spend the money. I don’t mind waiting for a lower price on shipping.

    • Mark D says:

      Too many packages to move? That’s their business! If there were too few packages, they’d be bankrupt.
      Two points:
      1. They aren’t delivering by their delivery date.
      2. The consumer is often not given the choice of shipping when purchasing from a seller who uses this horrible service.

  10. Douglas says:

    I purchased a item on eBay and the seller shipped it via SmartPost. It went into FedEx possession last Saturday and left Michigan 4 days ago. It made a quick sprint across the country making it into CA two days ago. Ever since then it has crawled into a snail pace going to three separate nearby points (Newberry Springs-Rialto-Bloomington) in 1.5 days. Now my package is scheduled to arrive two days later than originally scheduled!

    I will make a point to refuse doing business with eBayers who use solely FedEx SmartPost or the UPS equivalent from this day forward.

  11. Bruce Morgen says:

    FedEx’s own tracking site tells me that a small SmartPost package that first “Arrived at FedEx location” in New Jersey the night of 6/16/2017 wouldn’t be delivered here in San Diego until 6/24/2017 — so that’s a solid week coast-to-coast, which is about the same as USPS’s slowpoke “Parcel Select” service takes for the same distance. I suspect folks use SmartPost because it’s cheaper — and more convenient because it gets picked up with the rest of their FedEx shipments.

  12. Rosalind Smothers says:

    I thought it was just my experience. I’m sitting here now waiting on a package I ordered with two day shipping. That was ten days ago. No. Free shipping isn’t worth all the time it takes. If a company advertises FREE TWO (2) DAY. SHIPPING then doggone it they should live up to. Amazon used to but now they’ve gone over to “not smart”, “not even surepost.” Hate it.

  13. Bryan says:

    Smart post is horrible! I’d rather pay the shipping I didn’t realize what I was getting into with that garbage service my product shipped on 6/4/17 and I didn’t get it until 6/17/17 absolutely never again!

  14. Jayson V says:

    Ordered 3 items from a company based in Ohio. 5-7 business days. It’s been 9 days…well 7 business days of it being stuck on “Shipment Picked Up” status. I live in TN and there has been no tracking update since the 12th. For all I know it’s still in KY. I’m just hoping I receive my package, and that it didn’t get lost in the mix. Either way I will not be using this service again.

  15. Stan in Havasu says:

    Should be called stupidpost. I ordered a package from a company in Chino, Ca 4hr drive west of me. They shipped it via Quartzite Az, 2 hrs south of me, to Phoenix, 3 hrs east of me. There it sits until they bring it west to me (hopefully) If it arrives by their anticipated date it will have averaged 1 mph. Slower than walking. USELESS!

  16. Steve says:

    Smartpost? How about snailpost. I ordered an item from a company only 1H 52M drive from my front door. I ordered my item on 6/20. I received shipping email early the next day and here I am a week later still without my item. Tracking shows no movement except a label was printed.

  17. Everett says:

    Smartpost to my house always takes more than 4 days. I get better service from USPS every time. There must be an incentive for shippers, none for customers.

  18. David says:

    FedEx Smartpost is just goofy. My package arrived in Chicago on Monday via FedEx and then back to Wisconsin to the Smartpost hub. I live in Chicago and now my delivery estimate is Friday. My package arrived in my home city and cannot get delivered for another 5 days. Never again with FedEx Smartpost.

  19. Ryli says:

    I ordered 6 items from hot topic a week ago. It said it was in a city near Nashville,th about 2-3 hours from me. Then it went to a city near atlanta, ga twice as long away from me. And now I am still waiting for my package to go to Chattanooga, tn then come to me. And the tracking won’t tell me where it’s going next. And the estimated delivery day went from July 5th to July 7th in 2 hours. I’m never using fedex smartpost ever again!

  20. Karen says:

    I ordered two items from an auto parts site. The smaller part shipped before the oversized part. Ironically the oversized parcel arrived 2 days ago and I’m still waiting for the other. That’s how I found myself here. I wasn’t even aware of SmartPost until today. Thanks for the reviews and the comfort of knowing I’m not alone in this crappy experience.

  21. Tim says:

    FEDEX SmartPost is the dumbest way to ship! FedEx & USPS should be ashamed!!! 10 to 11 days to receive a package???? And shipping it back and forth… What a JOKE in todays world. FedEx & USPS should upgrade this back to the Pony Express from the 1800’s!!! IT WOULD BE FASTER!

    • Carrie C. says:

      AMEN. I used to buy from vitacost and get my products in a few days – now it sits in a FedEx Hub less than a hundred miles away and they say it will be over a week before I get it. The pony Express would be faster if the horses WALKED!

  22. Scott says:

    I’ve never heard of SmartPost before so found this while looking it up. I’m in Atlanta, and tonight it arrived at a FedEx Smartpost location in Ellenwood, GA about 45mins away. As I was reading the comments the delivery date changed from Friday to Saturday. If they dont know the arrival time, why display it on tracking??? Seems just plain stupid and not particularly good for customer service if you keep moving the goal posts

  23. Ken says:

    I have to agree with all the comments about Fedex SmartPost. Currently awaiting a very important package. Not the first time I’ve received something being delivered this way. So the package was delivered to the USPS sort facility in my town today. However, it won’t be sorted until tomorrow and won’t be delivered until Monday. This is absolutely ridiculous. I can understand not receiving it today but there is absolutely no reason I should have to wait through the entire weekend for my delivery.

  24. Kim Taylor says:

    I hate Smartpost. Had I known that the eBay seller was going to use Smartpost, I would not have purchased from them. It should take two days max to have a package shipped from New Jersey to Delaware. I know that from experience. It has been four days and my package is still in West Virginia. Why the package went from New Jersey to West Virginia I haven’t a clue. Delaware is right next to New Jersey. West Virginia is two states over to the west. How ridiculous.

  25. Carrie C. says:

    Smartpost is HORRIBLE – I purchased an item from a vendor that used to use UPS to ship. It would arrive in 2 maybe 3 days. Now, I order from the same place (about 80 miles away from where I live) and it will take over a week to arrive. It sits in FedEx hub in Greensboro, NC less than a hundred miles from me with an expected delivery date of a week and a day? Smart? For whom? I won’t order packages from anyone anymore who uses FedEx Smart Post. Life is too short and my money can buy the same thing and have it shipped USPS or UPS and get it to me quicker.

  26. Angel says:

    This has to be hands down the worst thing someone could of thought of for a hot 2 seconds. I work for usps and there is no way possible something coming from Texas to Ohio takes 8 days. The funny thing is it got to Ohio in 2 days and only 2.5 hours away only to sit for a few days then the next time it moved it went to Pennsylvania and sat even longer before making its way back to Ohio once again to sit before finally getting my package 2 days later. I’m not one who wants anyone to loose their job but someone differently needs a demotion. This service has to be free because it’s not worth 2 pennies with holes in them. Fedex really needs to rethink this senseless service. This makes me want nothing to do with fedex or any of their services. For the person who made the statement about the Pony Express would be an upgrade OMG would it ever; like going from a Pinto to a Bentley

  27. Trina says:

    Smart post is horrible and the routing doesn’t make sense. I had a shipment that went to Independence, Ky then to Indianapolis then back to Louisville which added two additional days . So it took 7 days to get it instead of the 3 to 4 days promised.

  28. Ted says:

    I’m in Hawaii awaiting a package being shipped by FedEx “Smart”Post. Looking at the tracking info from FedEx, it took the package seven days to get from Michigan to California. The last tracking note is, “Shipment information sent to USPS” and that was seven days ago. 14 days and still no package and I have no idea if USPS has it or where it is because I do not have a USPS tracking number. A note on the FedEx tracking info indicates the expected delivery date is seven days from now. Three weeks from Michigan to Hawaii??? I will always check from now on when I order something and if the seller uses FedEx I will refuse to purchase.

  29. bill says:

    Delivery by Smartpost is MUCH slower than regular USPS First Class. I ordered several items this month and all but one were shipped by USPS and delivered within 2 days. The other one, a tiny pack of guitar pegs weighing less than half an ounce, was shipped Fedex Smartpost. It took 11 days to receive it and the tracking becomes unavailable once Fedex hands it off to USPS. This scenario has played out several times in the past and I’ve ALWAYS observed that delivery was MUCH slower. I will try to avoid sellers that use Fedex Smartpost in the future but can’t always avoid them. I may even leave neg. feedback to ebay sellers who use it.

  30. Paul says:

    Fedex SmartPost could be outdone by a company that delivers across country on horse back. Most packages I order come from the west coast so yeah, I expect 4 to 6 days to deliver to the east coast. SmartPost turns it into 10 to 12….ESPECIALLY if it has to process through Ellenwood, Ga. Every package I have had come through that facility will sit idle there almost an entire week. Its pathetic. From now on, I will ask all sellers on ebay what service they use before ordering. I’d rather pay a few extra bucks and get a smooth, fast delivery.

  31. Gladys says:

    Trying to return Directv equipment with a label provided by Directv and have opened 2 claims now. 1st time Fedex told me to contact the shipper (Sent fedex smartpost so isn’t that what I’m doing?). Now I’m waiting for an answer for the 2nd request. So far it’s been 30 days that my package has been out there. Very frustrating because you know it’s just a matter of time til Directv charges me for this equipment. GRRRRR

  32. Kimball says:

    SmartPost? Now THAT is a oxymoron. They should call it FumblePost or MolassesInJanuaryPost or AceVenturaPost or DoofusPost. If I knew that Fedex was dumping packages at USPS and calling it SmartPost, I would have said a big NO THANK YOU. My package is taking 10 BUSINESS DAYS to get from Dallas to Washington State. If the PONY EXPRESS had switched from riding horses to riding giant snails, they would have been faster! GIDDY UP THERE OLE SNAILY!

  33. Anne Guelker says:

    7/18/17 I get shipments via SmartPost and SurePost on the same day that the FedEx and UPS trucks drive down my road. Makes no sense. I have a mailbox by the road, and the packages usually do not fit in that mailbox. FedEx and UPS deliver packages to my walkout basement door, which is much more convenient for me.

  34. Justin Rogers says:

    Fedex smartpost is slower than dirt its going to take almost 2 more weeks for my package to go from California to NY why is that I don’t know but I wish people would never use this service and either just send its USPS UPS AND FEDEX JUST NOT UPS SUREPOST OR FEDEX SMARTPOST as they are so darn slow

  35. Carlo T Pistritto says:

    I am still awaiting a package sent 8 days ago from a 1.5 hr drive away, within the same state! They stopped scanning it and I have no idea where it is since the day it shipped! I called FedEx twice and they told me to keep waiting for another 5 days, and that’s if it isn’t lost. This is INSANE. I would have gladly spent 5 bucks with USPS to avoid this frustration.

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