Single Carrier vs. Multi-Carrier Shipping: Which is Best for Your Business or Online Store? 

Jul 05, 2024 • read
Single Carrier vs. Multi-Carrier Shipping

For eCommerce businesses, there’s no shortage of decisions that need to be made in the running of day-to-day logistics operations. It’s one of the main reasons why brands often choose to outsource their fulfillment. One of the decisions businesses need to make when planning their shipping strategy is whether to use a single carrier or multiple carriers for their shipping needs.  

As with most things logistics-related, there are pros and cons to both approaches, and the right choice depends on your specific business needs and goals.  

With so many shipping solutions for businesses, it can be daunting to identify the right approach for your store. To help you make the right choice for your business, we’ve put together this essential guide exploring the differences between single-carrier and multi-carrier shipping.  

Let’s dive in. 

Courier vs. Postal Service

Single-Carrier Shipping 

Single-carrier shipping involves using a single carrier, like UPS or FedEx, to deliver all of your customers’ orders. At first glance, this approach seems easier to manage, but there are some drawbacks to this approach.  

Here are the advantages and disadvantages of single-carrier shipping: 


  • Simplified Operations: Managing shipments with a single carrier can streamline operations. You'll only need to familiarize yourself with one system for booking, tracking, and billing, reducing administrative complexity. 
  • Strong Relationships: Using one carrier can help you build a stronger, more personal relationship with them—meaning you’ll receive better customer service, potential discounts, and priority treatment during peak times. 
  • Consistent Service: A single carrier provides uniformity in service quality, delivery times, and tracking systems, so your customers get a consistent delivery experience. 
  • Potential Cost Savings: Leveraging your shipping volume with a single carrier might bring you better-negotiated rates and discounts. 


  • Risk of Disruptions: Relying on one carrier makes your business vulnerable to their  service disruptions, such as strikes, natural disasters, or logistical issues. 
  • Limited Flexibility: A single carrier may not offer the best rates or services for all destinations, limiting your flexibility in choosing the most cost-effective or fastest shipping options. 
Courier vs. Postal Service

Multi-Carrier Shipping

Multi-carrier shipping involves the use of multiple carriers to deliver orders to customers. In this scenario, businesses use a combination of carriers, such as UPS, FedEx, and Canada Post to tailor their shipping preferences based on cost, speed, and destination. By comparing offerings from various carriers, businesses can select the best shipping options for eCommerce orders. 

This approach is more complex than single carrier shipping, but there are many benefits of multi-carrier shipping for online stores, including flexibility, choice, and negotiating power.  

Here are the pros and cons of multi-carrier shipping: 


  • Increased Flexibility: Using multiple carriers allows you to choose the best carrier for each shipment based on factors like cost, delivery speed, and destination. This flexibility can lead to significant cost savings and improved delivery performance. 
  • Reduced Risk: With multiple carriers, you can mitigate the risk of service disruptions. If one carrier faces issues, you can quickly switch to another, minimizing the impact on your business operations. 
  • Better Customer Experience: Offering various shipping options can enhance the customer experience. Customers appreciate having choices regarding shipping speed and cost, which can lead to higher satisfaction and loyalty. 
  • Competitive Advantage: Access to multiple carriers allows you to leverage competitive rates and services, potentially giving your business an edge over competitors who rely on a single carrier. 


  • Complexity in Management: Managing relationships with multiple carriers can be complex and time-consuming. You'll need to navigate different systems for booking, tracking, and billing, which can increase your administrative workload, unless you ship using a multi-carrier shipping platform like eShipper’s.  
  • Potential Higher Costs: Without the leverage of volume discounts with a single carrier, you might face higher shipping costs. However, this can be mitigated by strategically choosing the best carrier for each shipment and working with a shipping aggregator that has pre-negotiated rates with multiple carriers. 
  • Inconsistent Service: Different carriers have varying service levels, delivery times, and tracking systems. This inconsistency can complicate your logistics operations and affect the customer experience. 
Courier vs. Postal Service

Which is Best for Your Business?

The decision between single and multi-carrier shipping depends on your business's specific needs, goals, and resources. When making a decision, consider the following: 

Which Is Best For shipping Single Carrier vs. Multi-Carrier
  • Shipment Volume: If you’re a high-volume shipper, you may benefit from the simplicity and potential discounts of a single carrier. But if you have diverse shipping needs, you might find multi-carrier shipping more advantageous to your business. 
  • Geographic Reach: If your business ships to a wide range of destinations, multi-carrier shipping can provide you with better coverage and more competitive rates. However, if your shipping area is more localized, a single carrier might suffice. 
  • Customer Expectations: Understanding your customers' expectations regarding delivery speed, cost, and options can help you decide on the best approach for your business. You’ll have more choice with multi-carrier shipping, and more consistency with single-carrier shipping. 
  • Operational Resources: Consider your business's capacity to manage relationships with multiple carriers. If you have the resources to handle the complexity, or if you partner with a 3PL, multi-carrier shipping can offer more benefits. If not, single-carrier shipping may be more manageable for you. 


Both single and multi-carrier shipping have their merits and challenges. By carefully evaluating your business's shipping needs, customer expectations, and operational resources, you can determine which approach best aligns with your goals.  

Whether you choose the simplicity of a single carrier or the flexibility of multiple carriers, the key is to optimize your shipping strategy to enhance customer satisfaction and drive business growth. Not sure where to get started? The eShipper platform allows you to compare pre-negotiated rates and competitive shipping options, as well as streamline your shipping and fulfillment process from start to finish. Contact us to learn how we can transform the way you ship, so you can grow your business and elevate your customer’s experience. 

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