When determining which shipping carrier to use for your delivery needs, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons of each option. In the U.S. that means deciding whether to ship through the big carriers: UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS. Or you can ship through regional couriers for your large or small business. If considering international shipping, there are more shipping options, including smaller carriers you likely haven’t heard of before. In this post, we will focus on DHL vs UPS, to add greater detail and uncover the nuance of each shipping service.

As an overview, you might know that the United Parcel Service is one of the largest players in domestic shipping, but it also has many international delivery options as well. DHL is better known for its international shipments, though it provides some limited domestic U.S. delivery service options as well.

Is DHL the same as UPS?

Some people get confused and ask, “is DHL the same as UPS?” They are not the same at all. There may be some confusion because in 2008, DHL and UPS talked about some joint services, with UPS potentially delivering DHL’s U.S. domestic parcels and packages. This was at a time when DHL was experiencing tremendous financial losses trying to compete against UPS and FedEx on American soil. During this time, there were also competitions for financial superiority with Fedex vs. UPS and UPS vs. USPS. Those talks fell apart, and DHL left the U.S. domestic scene for a number of years. DHL returned to the U.S. market a few years back, when ecommerce was becoming a greater force in shipping. DHL also partnered with the USPS on DHL SmartMail Parcel and DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus service, for last mile U.S. delivery using Priority Mail. 

This should explain more about the differences between DHL vs. UPS.

DHL: The company was founded in the United States, but DHL is now a German company, based on Bonn. It is part of Deutsche Post. DHL employs 550,000 employees around the world. The large shipping company is a top global logistics provider, offering many services. Annually they deliver more than 1.3 billion packages. Did you know that DHL delivers to Iraq and Afghanistan? Your best bet for shipping abroad is using DHL, as international shipping is its strength. DHL offers fast delivery and better shipping rates than the other major carriers for international shipping. Since it does not have a strong U.S. presence, it is not the best option for a domestic delivery company. While the other major carriers offer regular weekend delivery in the United States, DHL only offers a Sunday delivery in select locations and with a surcharge.

UPS: UPS was founded in the U.S. more than a century ago, and is still headquartered in the U.S. Like DHL, UPS is huge. The delivery company employs more than 540,000 employees globally. The company ships at least 21 million packages a day, using 123,000 vehicles in its fleet and 576 aircraft, almost half of which UPS owns, and the rest they charter or lease. UPS flies 2,285 daily flight segments. Unlike DHL, UPS offers its customers weekend residential delivery with no extra shipping fee. 

While there are differences, DHL and UPS have similarities too. These companies have services in at least 220 countries, with door-to-door delivery. DHL and UPS offer international shipment options, customer service, and customs clearance. Shippers can negotiate discounts to customers based on some different factors. DHL and UPS customers can use tracking numbers to locate their small packages and large packages on the carrier portals. Also, they both offer shipping labels and free shipping supplies. They both also have fuel surcharges.

Is DHL more expensive than UPS?

In terms of shipping cost, a company must weigh all the variables like pick-up and delivery location, shipping solution, shipping method, weight, dimensional weight, whether it’s an oversized package, and other factors. These are the same types of considerations when determining if the DHL rate is more expensive than USPS and if DHL is more expensive when comparing FedEx vs. DHL. There is not one blanket answer, but the question can be asked based on more specific scenarios like these.

  • DHL is usually less expensive than UPS when shipping internationally.
  • DHL is usually faster than UPS when shipping internationally.
  • UPS is usually less expensive than DHL when shipping domestically in the U.S.
  • UPS is usually faster than DHL when shipping domestically in the U.S.

Is DHL really fast?

DHL shipping is almost always faster when shipping globally, especially when using a service like DHL Express Worldwide. If using a comparable United Parcel Service Express option, it will likely cost you more and you may add a day or two onto the delivery time. The same is true for other services, including a ground service option. Comparing the services on the company websites or through a shipping portal will give you specific answers to your queries. 

While there are too many services to name here, we are providing a sample of the DHL shipping services. 

DHL International Services

  • DHL Express by 9:00
  • DHL Express by 10:30
  • DHL Express by 12:00
  • DHL Express Worldwide
  • DHL Express Envelope
  • DHL SameDay Jetline

DHL international services include parcel delivery on the next possible day, and door-to-door courier service. They also offer end-to-end tracking numbers and visibility, proactive delivery notifications, customs clearance facilitation, delivery management and a money-back guarantee.

DHL Domestic Services

  • DHL Express by end of day
  • DHL SmartMail Parcel 
  • DHL SmartMail Parcel Plus

Working with USPS for last mile delivery, DHL offers this SmartMail Parcel service for DHL ecommerce clients that send a lot of B2C shipments within the United States. 

DHL Global Forwarding Services

  • Air freight
  • Ocean freight
  • Domestic freight
  • Road freight
  • Rail freight

DHL Global Forwarding offers solutions to help with customs and logistics.

While DHL has fast service globally, UPS also has fast service, especially in the U.S. ShipMetrix data from the December 2020 holiday season showed that UPS had a 96% on-time delivery rate, which was slightly higher than FedEx and USPS. Data for DHL was not available from this survey. 

Here are some of the UPS shipping services.

UPS International services:

  • UPS Express Critical International 
  • UPS Worldwide Express Plus
  • UPS Worldwide Express
  • UPS Worldwide Expedited Shipping
  • UPS Worldwide Express Freight
  • UPS Air Freight Direct
  • UPS Worldwide Saver

UPS Domestic services

  • UPS Express Critical Domestic
  • UPS Next Day Air Early
  • UPS Next Day Air
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver
  • UPS 2nd Day Air
  • UPS 3 Day Select
  • UPS SurePost
  • UPS Ground Shipping
  • UPS Next Day Air Freight
  • UPS 3 Day Freight

Is DHL reliable in USA?

Is DHL reliable in the USA? Yes, of course. But given that DHL does not focus on U.S. delivery, it might be better to route the shipments instead to a carrier that specializes in U.S. deliveries, and has the logistics infrastructure to back that up. Reliability is a huge thing for shippers, so much so that carriers often offer a money-back guarantee. For some delivery services during the pandemic, that guarantee has been suspended. 

In addition to reliability, there are other important characteristics in shipping, including cost. The cost obviously depends on which service the shipper chooses. An express overnight service will cost more than ground shipping. But even when choosing the most economic or the most value-based service, cost can vary depending on how the carrier contract is negotiated. And bringing in third-party help for that research and negotiation can pay big dividends.

When a shipper is ready to negotiate a contract with the carriers, having the most detailed information at hand helps with that process. Not only can the data be used to show the carrier what is important to them, but it helps to focus on what shipping characteristics are most ripe for discounting. Don’t skip the analysis, as it’s the most important factor in preparing for the negotiation.

The analysis would include an overview of your company’s shipping over a period of time, like a year. A year gives a good window into lighter and heavier shipping periods which might be seasonal. You’ll want to understand a breakdown of where your packages went, the various sizes and service types of shipping services you used and what surcharges were frequently charged. This data will then help you devise your negotiation strategy for advantageous terms and rates. 

A shipper can do this on their own, but your chances of negotiating a better contract are improved when using experts who do this every day and come from the carrier side. That’s where Shipware comes in. Shipware’s contract optimization program uses former carrier-side executives who have years of experience negotiating these contracts and understanding all elements involved. They do the analysis and formulate the negotiation approach, coaching you through the process. In return, you get the best contract possible, saving upwards of 30% of your shipping costs.

As a companion or stand-alone program, the invoice audit recovery program can be implemented at any time, and takes only minutes to set up. It can save shippers up to 9% of their shipping costs with no manual effort or out-of-pocket costs. How? Shipware’s invoice audit recovery program pulls invoices from your system and combs through them. The proprietary artificial intelligence program checks the invoice across a list of 60 or more possible invoice errors, finding mistakes made by the carrier. These mistakes are turned into credit when Shipware applies for credit on your company’s behalf. The credit is applied directly to your account. Manual invoice review will not lower your shipping costs by up to 9%, and you’ll be paying precious staff time for these reviews. Instead, Shipware’s automation meticulously finds the errors and gets the credit rolling. The only cost is a percentage of the savings for Shipware.

Companies continue to look for ways to lower shipping costs. Whether trying to decide between. DHL vs UPS or other shipping companies, Shipware is here to help you lower your shipping rates and make your life easier. To learn how, please contact us