Fed Ex Headquarters in Memphis, TN
Because of unexpected snags, creative over-zealousness, or an order that was almost too tall to fill, your project is down to the wire. Your team's been working around the clock to finish up, but the deliverables need to get to the client tomorrow morning. Finding the right package carrier and location for a last minute shipping job is a design problem in itself, so here are a few tips that will help you get your project out the door. Now.
Creating your accounts
The key to last-minute shipping is being prepared in advance. Open accounts with all the major carriers, and order their free shipping materials and pre-printed airbills to keep around the office. When the time comes, you'll be able to burn that CD and finesse the cover letter instead of finding the right envelope or filling out airbills. Don't like to write? You can do most of the paperwork online.
Finding your last possible drop-off locations
In a perfect world, each company's online location finders would point you to your last possible drop-off points. Because it doesn't always work that way, making some calculated guesses about each shipper's logistics will help search engines produce better results. For example, UPS drop boxes are checked after their stores close, so when you search for locations online, uncheck all UPS locations by the drop boxes. This yields much more legible and useful resultsusually a box at an airport or an odd suburban building lobby. You can filter by a range of drop-off times by futzing with the advanced options, but this method is faster, producing just the right range of results when you're in a hurry or using a smartphone.
FedEx boasts the latest collection times of all, but these vary with a location's logistical proximity to their hub in Memphis. For example, the latest drop-off in Los Angeles is an early 7pm, so UPS might be a better bet. In Memphis, however, you can drive your package right up to the hub as late as 11:59 pm, just before the sort starts.
Finally, if you're looking for a cheaper (but earlier) option, the US Postal Service is exceedingly clear about their last collection times. Rather than putting this information in their location finder, however, it's buried in their Express Mail delivery time calculator, which outlines all your drop-off options and how your choice will affect their shipping commitment.
It's also important to know what's really out there. For example, did you know that the USPS offers a Sunday/Holiday Express Mail delivery for an extra $12.50? Or that FedEx will deliver packages within hours to locations inside the same city? All this info can be found in the depths of each carrier's website, but we've organized the basic services for you here.
Same Day Services:
UPS Express Critical: offering same day air delivery, door-to-door ground transportation, charter flights, courier deliveries and special handling.
FedEx Same Day: cross country and cross-city
DHL Same Day: Jetline (next commercial flight), Sprintline (dedicated ground vehicle), and Secureline (courier/chartered flight)
Bike Messengers: for anything under 5 pounds to be delivered locally
Next Day Services:
UPS Next Day Air: Early A.M. (8 am), Regular (10 am), and Saver (3 pm)
FedEx: First Overnight (early morning), Priority Overnight (first half of the day), and Standard Overnight (afternoon) USPS Express Mail: with Holiday/Sunday delivery and direct pickup, for extra
Second Day Services:
UPS 2nd Day Air: A.M. (10:30 am), and Regular (5 pm)
FedEx 2Day: 4:30 pm on the 2nd day
USPS Priority Mail: (2-3 days)
UPS Worldwide Express: 1-3 business days, depending. Plus (9 am), Regular (12 pm), and , Saver (5 pm)
Fed Ex International Next Flight: asap or First (2 business days to Europe)
DHL Express Worldwide: Non-Document, Document (for invoices, contracts and reports), and Express Envelope (for lightweight documents)
Hope you make it!