Blog > How 2-Day Shipping Works and Why You Should Offer It

How 2-Day Shipping Works and Why You Should Offer It

Best Practices, Blog, Ecommerce

Today’s shoppers want the convenience of buying online with the gratification of getting their orders ASAP. And you can’t blame them. Giants like Amazon and Walmart have set the norm for the ecommerce industry by offering two-day and even same-day shipping options to their customers.

As a small retailer, you run the risk of losing your customers if you can’t guarantee their ‘inalienable right’ to expedited delivery. Studies have shown that 26% of online shoppers abandon their carts due to slow shipping, and 53% consider delivery time an essential factor when evaluating their orders.

The most intriguing part of the puzzle is that customers expect expedited shipping but still crave free deliveries, with 75% of U.S. shoppers expecting free shipping. The big question is that is it possible for small businesses to compete with the giants, considering their lower order volume and lack of fulfillment infrastructure?

Well, the answer isn’t straightforward. But we can tell you it’s not impossible. In this guide, we let you in on the most important things you need to know about two-day shipping and how you can offer it to your customers.

What is 2-day shipping?

Two-day shipping is the process of delivering online orders to consumers within two days of making the purchase. With online consumers becoming less patient by the day, offering two-day delivery is now an essential part of any winning ecommerce strategy.

How does 2-day shipping work?

Depending on the seller, two-day delivery can be two business days or two full days. And the time can start counting from either the order cutoff time or the checkout time.

For example, Walmart uses two business days and an order cutoff time model. So, if a buyer places an order after the cutoff time on Friday, they can expect to receive their order on or before Tuesday since Saturday and Sunday are not business days. On the other hand, some other companies start counting the days once the order is packed, not minding whether it’s a business day or not.

Whichever the model, deliveries eligible for two-day shipping are typically coordinated between two shipping methods: air and ground shipping.

Air shipping

Air shipping entails using an airplane or jet to transport packages from the warehouse or fulfillment center to the customer. It’s mainly used for international shipping or shipping to customers who live very far from the fulfillment centers. Unsurprisingly, air shipping costs can be pretty steep, making it almost impossible to offer free two-day shipping to customers.

Ground shipping

Ground shipping uses vans, trucks, or cars to move orders from the fulfillment center to the customer’s doorstep. Depending on your logistics approach, you may use your delivery vehicles or rely on an external shipping carrier. Ground shipping is easily the cheapest delivery model, and you can offer free two-day delivery without eating deeply into your bottom line. 

Unfortunately, the method cannot be used for delivering orders to locations that are far from your fulfillment centers. If you don’t have fulfillment centers spread across your home country, offering 2-day delivery via ground shipping can be next to impossible.

How 2-day shipping grows ecommerce businesses

A recent report from EtailInsights revealed that there are currently 2.1 million online retailers in the United States alone, and this number is expected to grow in the coming years. If anything, this stat tells you that ecommerce businesses have become just as competitive as brick-and-mortar retail, if not more. As a business owner, you’ll need to stay on top of your game to thrive in the space. Here are a few ways two-day shipping can boost your ecommerce business

Keep up with shoppers’ expectations

On average, online customers feel three days is an acceptable waiting time for an order. Once your delivery time exceeds three days, your customers will likely leave you for businesses that offer faster delivery. However, you’ll have a better chance of retaining your customers and expanding your customer base if you offer two-day shipping.

Improve conversion rates and make more sales

Your ads become more attention-grabbing if you include a promise of expedited shipping. You can add the tags and banners to all your ad copies, including emails, paid ads, and social media posts. When you do this, get ready for a considerably improved conversion rate and more sales.

Better retention rates

Customers that get their orders on time are more likely to make a repeat purchase. Moreover, you can offer 2-day shipping as part of a paid membership program like Amazon Prime to offset the costs associated with faster deliveries.

Stop losing sales to Amazon

Expedited shipping is one of Amazon’s core selling points. Many online shoppers now regard Amazon’s free two-day shipping as the standard. According to Metapack’s report, 27% of shoppers will choose the retailer with the better delivery option. Unless you’re selling an exclusive product, you’re likely to lose your customers to the ecommerce giants if you can’t match their shipping times.

Should you offer 2-day shipping?

Yes, it would be best if you offered two-day shipping to as many customers as possible. It’s the easiest way to reduce cart abandonment and order cancelation rates. However, two-day shipping for all orders can be detrimental to business, especially if you plan to keep the shipping costs low.

If the cost of expedited delivery is too high, you can offer two-day shipping alongside other options and leave the decision to the customer. Another helpful strategy is restricting the service to a select group of customers like Amazon Prime.

How to keep 2-day shipping costs low

Two-day shipping doesn’t come without extra costs. If you’re not careful, you could lose all the gains you’ll make from offering two-day shipping if the costs eat too deep into your bottom line. And transferring the total cost to customers isn’t a viable option. As mentioned earlier, your customers want their delivery fast and free! The best you can do is to keep the shipping cost as low as possible. Here are some tips that can help:

Use ground shipping

Ground shipping is the easiest way to keep shipping costs low while delivering fast. However, it can only work if the fulfillment center is close enough to the customer. Since most of your customers are likely to come from big cities, your fulfillment centers should be located in urban centers.

If you cannot achieve a wide distribution of fulfillment centers, you may restrict the fast shipping option to customers within a specified destination zip code. You could even offer one-day shipping or overnight shipping to customers very close to your fulfillment center.

Offer 2-day shipping to customers on a membership plan

Even with all of Amazon’s logistics prowess, only Amazon Prime members enjoy guaranteed two-day shipping. You can also work on a similar model for your e-commerce business. When you offer this perk to customers on a membership plan, more customers are likely to join, and the subscription cost may offset some of the shipping costs. 

Leverage distributed warehouses 

Operating from just one warehouse or fulfillment center will severely restrict your two-day delivery capabilities. Even if you cannot manage more than one fulfillment center, you should consider partnering with a 3PL company. You’ll be reducing the transit time of customers’ orders and ensuring faster delivery.

Examples of 2-day shipping

Below are a few shipping methods you can use if you’re planning to start two-day shipping:

DIY: negotiate shipping discounts with carriers

If you’re handling fulfillment in-house, you’ll have to take the goods to your preferred carrier yourself. The top carriers such as FedEx and the USPS have two-day shipping plans you can subscribe to. If your business is big enough, you could even get them to pick the packages from your warehouse with shipping discounts.

Outsourced: partnering with a 3PL

Online sellers that choose this option store their inventory at the third-party logistics company’s fulfillment center, and the company ensures it’s shipped out on time. This arrangement allows sellers to leverage distributed warehouses and significantly reduce shipping costs. What’s more? You get to retain customer information since all orders will have to pass through you.

2-day shipping FAQs

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about two-day shipping:

Is 2-day shipping really two days?

Two-day shipping does not always mean the customer will receive the package within 48 hours of placing the order. Often, the two days start counting once the item is shipped from the fulfillment center. And the two days typically mean two business days. 

For example, the fulfillment center workers will need to pick, pack, and label an order before it’s ready for shipping. So, if the customer places the order late, it may not be possible to ship the order on that day. In such cases, the two days will start counting the next day. For companies that work only on weekdays, the two days will not begin counting until Monday if the order is placed on Friday evening.

If the seller is dropping off the package at the post office themselves, two-day shipping will mean two days from when the seller drops off the package. In some contexts, two-day shipping may suggest that the seller will get the order to the mail within two days. If you’re ever in doubt, you should ask your seller or service provider to explain their interpretation of two-day shipping. 

What is the Amazon Prime Effect?

This term refers to the two-day shipping service that most online customers have now come to expect. Amazon set the expedited delivery standard via their Amazon Prime service. Prime customers typically get their goods within two days of placing the order. 

Is 2-day shipping guaranteed?

Two-day shipping hinges on many factors, including the shipping carrier, days of operation, cutoff time, weather, and additional factors. Many online sellers only use two days as a delivery estimate. However, some sellers are bold enough to provide a money-back guarantee if your order does not arrive within two days.

Even in cases where the seller provides a money-back guarantee, they still leave room for mishaps such as missing or stolen packages or lousy weather. As an online seller, you shouldn’t hastily provide guarantees around two-day shipping. However, you should try to uphold your promises as much as you can. 

How much is 2-day shipping?

Many factors can affect the cost of two-day shipping: 

  • Carrier and shipping service
  • Package dimensions 
  • Shipping date and time (shipping costs tend to rise during the holiday season)
  • Point of origin 
  • Shipping destination 
  • Shipment volume 

All these factors make it difficult to put a price on two-day shipping. 

What about offering free 2-day shipping?

If you can offer free two-day shipping, you’ll attract a lot of customers. However, you should know someone will have to pay for the free shipping, and that person is you. If it doesn’t make sense for your margins, you could be better off dropping the idea. Or better still, offer it to a small subset of customers, maybe customers that exceed a minimum purchase threshold or customers that have subscribed to a particular service. 

How to offer 2-day shipping

Most small businesses cannot handle the complexities of order fulfillment coupled with expedited shipping. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to outsource your fulfillment services to a specialist company or some other company with great logistics prowess. Below are a few outsourcing options you can consider

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Fulfillment By Amazon is available to a select group of Amazon sellers. To become FBA-eligible, you have to meet some preset criteria. Once you meet the requirements, your customers can expect guaranteed two-day shipping and could even upgrade to one-day shipping for a small fee.

The downside to Amazon FBA is that the service is only available for orders placed on the Amazon marketplace. Unfortunately, you won’t have the necessary contact information to remarket to your customers. Amazon could even use your order information to build competing products, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Furthermore, you’ll incur considerable seller fees despite Amazon using their branded packages for shipping. In essence, you have little control over the customer experience, and shoppers are more likely to remember they bought the item from Amazon than remembering they purchased from you. In summary, it’s not a great option if you wish to boost brand visibility.


ShipHero is a third-party logistics (3PL) company with fulfillment centers across the country. We help sellers fulfill orders placed on their business website or third-party marketplaces, and other sales channels. 

When you partner with ShipHero, you’ll get guaranteed two-day shipping that doesn’t come with all the negatives of FBA. You’re also likely to pay less on deliveries, and you can distribute your inventory across the numerous fulfillment centers in the country to save on shipping costs. If you want to scale your fulfillment operations without breaking the bank, there’s hardly any better option than partnering with ShipHero. 


Offering fast and cheap delivery options is now central to attracting and retaining online customers. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the logistics capabilities necessary to match the expedited delivery services provided by ecommerce giants like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay. 

The best way to remain competitive is by outsourcing your fulfillment needs to a 3PL company. If you can partner with the right logistics company, you’ll be able to offer guaranteed two-day shipping and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.

Learn how ShipHero can help you offer 2-day delivery by clicking the button below to contact our team.

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