So how does Amazon.com get the stuff that you order from either one Amazon's own product depots, or the (ware)house of a third-party seller, to your doorstep? More importantly, how fast can it do that, and how much does it cost you above and beyond what you paid for your merchandise in the first place? Read on and find out.
Amazon usually uses the largest and most trusted courier services for its deliveries, including UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service. However, it has also begun using other local and regional couriers to ship its goods, including:
APEX / ECMS Express
ABF Freight System Inc.
Menlo Worldwide / UPS Supply Chain Solutions
If you buy items from a third-party seller on Amazon, they may choose their own shipping options, as well.
The time it takes to be shipped something you purchased on Amazon depends on whether you're buying directly from Amazon or from a third party, what speed of shipping you choose, and where you live.
Shipping to a location in the continental U.S. usually takes 4 or 5 business days with standard shipping, 2 business days with priority shipping, and 1 business day with express shipping.
Shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico usually takes 3 to 7 business days with standard shipping, 2 to 5 business days with expedited shipping, and 1 to 4 business days with priority shipping.
Shipping to any other U.S. territory (e.g. Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands, American Samoa) usually takes 3 to 5 business days with standard shipping, or 1 to 4 business days with priority shipping.
Shipping times to areas outside the U.S. vary by region and the shipping speed that you choose. For lists of these times, see this help section on Amazon global shipping times.
NOTE: These times may vary by up to 2 days, as this is usually the time frame within which third-party sellers will ship their items after you have ordered them. They may also vary based on the individual seller's policies, so be sure to read those in the seller's profile.
Shipping to a location in North America usually takes 4 to 21 business days (but usually not more than 14) with standard shipping, 2 to 6 business days with expedited shipping, 2 business days with priority shipping, and 1 business day with express shipping.
Shipping to a location abroad usually takes 3 to 6 weeks with standard shipping (but may take 8 to 12 weeks if there are delays in clearing customs), and 3 to 7 business days with expedited shipping.
In general, you can find shipping costs for an order on Amazon when you go to review it, underneath the Place Your Order button (see step 10 of our How to Buy on Amazon tutorial).
Beyond that, your shipping costs are affected by whether you're inside or outside the U.S., the shipping speed that you choose, as well as whether you're ordering merchandise directly from Amazon or from a third-party seller.
Amazon keeps relatively tight-lipped about how much it costs to ship items to people in the U.S. directly from Amazon, perhaps because of the amount of competition between courier services in America. As such, it does not explicitly list its shipping rates within the U.S., except to say that they are affected by the shipping speed that you select, as well as how large or heavy the items that you're purchasing are. They also may be affected by how expensive the items you purchase are; if they're expensive enough, you may be able to get Amazon to waive the shipping costs.
The shipping costs associated with third-party sellers below may give you a general guideline for these costs.
Shipping costs to areas outside the U.S. from Amazon vary not only by region, but by the type(s) of goods being shipped and the shipping speed chosen. For lists of these costs, see this help section on Amazon's global shipping rates.
Shipping to locations within the United States using standard shipping usually costs between $4 and $4.50 per item. Certain bulky items may cost an additional 50₵ per pound of weight.
Shipping to locations within the United States using expedited shipping usually costs between $6.20 and $7 per item. Certain bulky items may cost an additional $1 per pound of weight.
Priority shipping within the United States costs about $15 per item, and is restricted to certain non-bulky items such as books, CDs, vinyl records, VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.
Express shipping within the United States costs about $20 per item, and is restricted to certain non-bulky items such as books, CDs, vinyl records, VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.
Shipping to locations outside the U.S. using standard shipping usually costs about $15 per item. The only exception is books; they usually cost $17 per item weighing less than 1 lb., and $25 per item weighing more than 1 lb.
Shipping to locations outside the U.S. using expedited shipping usually costs about $46.50 per item, regardless of its type or weight.
So, to answer the two most frequently asked questions about shipping on Amazon:
Assuming that you live either in a U.S. territory or at least a country in North America, and have chosen either priority or express shipping (which are the two conditions necessary to potentially have an item shipped within one day), shipping will probably cost you between $15 and $20 per item.
Again, assuming that you live somewhere in the U.S. (including overseas territories like Hawaii or the Virgin Islands) or North America in general, and are using either expedited or priority shipping (which are the two conditions that will likely get an order to you within two days), shipping will cost you between $6 and $15 per item.
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