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How to Ship with UPS: A Beginner’s Guide for Small Businesses


In today’s competitive business landscape, reliable shipping is essential for small businesses to succeed. Whether you’re sending products to customers, supplies to your office, or samples to potential partners, a seamless and efficient shipping process is crucial for growth and customer satisfaction. UPS, a global leader in logistics, has established itself as a trusted partner for businesses of all sizes, offering a wide range of shipping services and tools to streamline your operations.

This comprehensive guide serves as your ultimate resource for navigating the world of UPS shipping, specifically tailored for small businesses. We’ll guide you through every step, from setting up your account to tracking your shipments, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience. Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents

  1. Setting Up a UPS Account
  2. Choosing the Right Shipping Service
  3. Packaging Your Shipments
  4. Preparing for Shipping
  5. Tracking Your Shipment
  6. Additional Tips for Success
  7. FAQ Section
  8. Conclusion

1. Setting Up a UPS Account

Starting your shipping journey with UPS is as easy as signing up for an account. You have two convenient options:

Option 1: Setting Up an Account on

  • Visit the UPS website ( and click on “Sign Up”.
  • Follow the simple on-screen instructions, providing your business details and contact information.
  • Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a UPS account.

Having a UPS account unlocks several benefits:

  • Track your shipments: Easily monitor the progress of your packages in real-time.
  • Save on shipping rates: Enjoy discounted rates through various programs and volume discounts.
  • Manage your shipping preferences: Customize your shipping settings, including preferred delivery times and pickup locations.
  • Access online shipping tools: Utilize convenient tools for creating labels, scheduling pickups, and generating rate quotes.

Option 2: Setting Up an Account via UPS Customer Service

If you prefer a more personalized approach, you can set up an account by contacting UPS Customer Service.

  • Dial the UPS Customer Service number (1-800-PICK-UPS).
  • Provide the required information, such as your business name, contact details, and preferred shipping address.

2. Choosing the Right Shipping Service

UPS offers a diverse range of shipping services to cater to your specific needs. Understanding the differences between each option will help you select the most suitable service for your shipments.

Understanding UPS Service Options

Here’s a brief overview of the most popular UPS shipping services:

  • UPS Ground: The most economical option for standard deliveries within the continental United States.
  • UPS 3 Day Select: Provides faster delivery within 3 business days, suitable for urgent shipments.
  • UPS 2nd Day Air: Delivers packages within 2 business days, ideal for time-sensitive items.
  • UPS Next Day Air: Guarantees delivery by the end of the next business day, perfect for critical shipments.
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver: Offers next-day delivery by the end of the next business day, but at a more affordable rate.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Service

  • Urgency of delivery: How quickly does the recipient need to receive the package?
  • Budget constraints: What is your budget for shipping?
  • Package weight and dimensions: The size and weight of your package will influence the available shipping services and their costs.

3. Packaging Your Shipments

Proper packaging is essential to ensure your shipments arrive safely and securely. Here are the guidelines to follow:

UPS Packaging Requirements

  • Use approved packaging materials: Choose boxes and other packaging materials from UPS’s approved list. You can find a comprehensive list of packaging requirements on
  • Securely close boxes: Use strong tape to seal all seams of the box, ensuring it won’t open during transit.
  • Cushion fragile items: Use packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or other cushioning materials to protect delicate items from damage.
  • Label packages clearly: Attach a shipping label to the outside of the package, including the recipient’s name and address.

4. Preparing for Shipping

Once you have packaged your shipment, you need to prepare it for pickup or drop-off at a UPS location.

Creating a Shipping Label

  • Create a shipping label online through your UPS account. Enter the recipient’s information, select your desired shipping service, and print the label.
  • UPS Mobile App: Utilize the UPS mobile app to generate a shipping label, which you can then print or present digitally at the time of pickup or drop-off.

Getting a Rate Quote

  • Access the rate calculator on, enter the package details, and receive an estimated shipping cost.
  • UPS Mobile App: Use the rate calculator feature within the app for quick and convenient rate estimations.

Scheduling a Pickup

  • Log into your account, schedule a pickup for your package, and specify your desired pickup time and location.
  • UPS Customer Service: Call UPS customer service to arrange a pickup at a time convenient for you.

5. Tracking Your Shipment

Monitoring the progress of your shipment is essential to keep track of its location and anticipate its arrival.

Using UPS Tracking Services

  • Log into your account and access the “Track” section, where you can enter your tracking number.
  • UPS Mobile App: Utilize the tracking feature within the app to monitor your shipment’s journey in real-time.
  • UPS Customer Service: You can also call UPS Customer Service and provide your tracking number for shipment updates.

Understanding Tracking Information

As your shipment progresses, you’ll receive updates on its status, including:

  • Label Created: The shipping label has been generated.
  • Picked Up: Your package has been picked up for delivery.
  • In Transit: Your package is on its way to its destination.
  • Out for Delivery: Your package is being delivered to the recipient.
  • Delivered: Your package has been successfully delivered.

Resolving Shipping Issues

While UPS strives for on-time delivery, unforeseen circumstances can sometimes cause delays or problems. If you encounter any shipping issues, follow these steps:

  • Contact UPS Customer Service: Reach out to UPS customer service immediately and explain the situation.
  • Provide your tracking number: Have your tracking number ready to provide to the customer service representative.
  • Be prepared to answer questions: Be prepared to provide details about the shipment, such as the pickup date and time, recipient information, and any relevant information about the package.

6. Additional Tips for Success

Here are a few extra tips to enhance your shipping experience with UPS and optimize your shipping strategy:

Utilizing UPS Discounts

  • Volume discounts: UPS offers discounts based on the number of packages shipped.
  • Loyalty programs: Take advantage of loyalty programs and rewards to earn points and save on shipping costs.
  • Negotiate rates: If you ship a large volume of packages, consider negotiating rates with UPS directly.

Understanding Shipping Regulations

  • Prohibited items: UPS has a list of prohibited items that cannot be shipped through their network.
  • Hazardous materials: If you need to ship hazardous materials, there are specific regulations and procedures that must be followed.
  • International shipping: UPS offers international shipping services, but certain regulations and documentation requirements apply.

Always refer to UPS’s official website or contact customer service for the most up-to-date information on shipping regulations.

7. FAQ Section

Here are some common questions that small businesses often have about shipping with UPS:

  • What are the typical delivery times for UPS shipments?
    • Delivery times vary depending on the chosen shipping service, destination, and package weight. For example, UPS Ground typically takes 1-5 business days for deliveries within the continental United States, while UPS Next Day Air guarantees delivery by the end of the next business day. You can find estimated delivery times for specific destinations on
  • How do I get a refund for a lost or damaged package?
    • If your package is lost or damaged during transit, contact UPS Customer Service immediately and provide them with your tracking number. They will guide you through the claims process and provide instructions on how to file a claim.
  • What is the difference between UPS Ground and UPS Next Day Air?
    • UPS Ground is the most economical option for standard deliveries, typically taking 1-5 business days. UPS Next Day Air guarantees delivery by the end of the next business day, providing the fastest delivery service.
  • Can I ship internationally with UPS?
    • Yes, UPS offers international shipping services to various destinations worldwide. However, specific regulations and documentation requirements apply depending on the country of origin and destination. You can find more information on
  • Are there any hidden fees associated with UPS shipping?
    • UPS charges for various services, including fuel surcharges, residential delivery fees, and other applicable fees. These fees are generally disclosed during the shipping label creation process or when requesting a rate quote.
  • What is the best way to ensure my packages arrive safely?
    • Use proper packaging materials from UPS’s approved list, securely close boxes with strong tape, and use cushioning materials to protect fragile items. Always double-check the recipient’s address on the shipping label and schedule a pickup for your package.

8. Conclusion

Shipping with UPS can be a seamless and efficient process for small businesses, offering a wide range of services to cater to your specific needs. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can streamline your shipping operations, save time and money, and ensure your packages arrive safely and on time.

Remember to utilize the resources available on, including their online shipping tools, tracking services, and customer support. With UPS as your shipping partner, you can focus on growing your business while they handle the logistics.