Recent disruptions highlighted the dangers of an overloaded supply chain, with capacity strained by the very business models that built consumer reliance on e-commerce. An agile and resilient supply chain has become one where capacity is key, and retailers look beyond legacy carriers for shipping solutions.

In a world where the only certainty is uncertainty, here are three ways carrier diversity offers small and mid-size retailers the flexibility they need to succeed in e-commerce:

Matching Volume with Capacity

There is a natural ebb and flow of parcel volume, driven by a combination of seasonality, consumer demand and product availability. Small to mid-size retailers are seeking capacity that aligns with their needs require flexibility.

By aggregating parcel volume from multiple shippers within a few metropolitan areas, AirTerra is able to lower shipping costs while getting product moving down the road to customers.

Building in Predictability

Consumers are demanding speed, reliability and predictability in their purchase process. Legacy carriers that rely on a hub-and-spoke model experience more delays, lost packages and other snafus just by virtue of their many touchpoints for each parcel.

AirTerra’s point-to-point network ships long zone parcels to major metro markets, cutting time, lowering cost, and eliminating unpredictability.

Power of Choice

The greatest benefit of carrier diversity is that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. AirTerra provides a complete end-to-end shipping solution by offering retailers a choice of many regional parcel carriers and USPS delivery options for the last mile.

The Case for Change

A recent article in the trade publication Sourcing Journal provided an inside look at American Eagle Outfitters which is walking the talk of carrier diversity with its purchase of two logistics companies, AirTerra and Quiet Logistics, creating a network for businesses to share supply chain logistics and boost efficiencies.

“We at American Eagle are creating a supply chain platform that levels the playing field for everyone,” said Shekar Natarajan, chief supply chain officer at American Eagle Outfitters in the interview with Sourcing Journal. “Networks are built analog, but supply chains and commerce have become more digital. We’re basically trying to put the two together,” he said, adding that while the industry average is about 1.4 shipments for every order, AEO can now do it in 1.05. “And it’s not just fewer packages showing up faster at your doorstep, but more importantly, it’s showing up cheaper as well”

AEO began by asking the important question: ‘How do we get closer to the end consumer but do it in a smarter way?’” The answer: carrier diversification.

Need more help with your parcel shipping strategy? Contact us at to learn how we can provide you with the value of carrier diversification, without the costs.


Additional Handling Surcharge AHS Additional fee shippers pay due for extra care needed for a shipment because the shipment is fragile, oversized, awkwardly packaged, or heavy.
Address Correction Additional fee shippers pay when a customer address is incomplete, incorrect, or difficult to interpret. The carrier will attempt to interpret and correct the address for proper delivery.
Army Post Office APO A post office or PO box on a military base for armed service members. Only USPS delivers to APO addresses.
Advanced Shipping Notice ASN A document that provides detailed information about pending shipments/delivery.
Bill of Lading BOL A list of contents in a shipment given by the shipper to the receiver via the carrier. It is a legal document required in the movement of freight.
Carton ID The numeric, scan-able ID given to a package within a fulfillment center before a tracking ID has been assigned.
Cross-dock or




The transfer of freight from an inbound truck to an outbound truck to a distribution center.
Delivered Duty Paid DDP This is an Incoterm. The shipper is responsible for all Duties and Taxes for the shipment.
Delivered Duty Unpaid DDU This is an Incoterm. The receiver is responsible for all Duties and Taxes for the shipment.
Delivery Area Surcharge DAS Additional fee shippers pay when packages are delivered to remote residential addresses. Think rural, sparsely populated areas.
Department of


DOT Federal regulatory agency that defines rules for carriers and shippers in order to promote safe and ethical transportation of goods.
Destination   the place to which a ‘shipment’ is going or being sent.
Dimensional Factor DIM Factor A division factor provided by carriers to determine the DIM Weight of packages. A higher DIM Factor will lead to a lower DIM Weight and therefore a lower shipping price.
Dimensional Weight DIM, DIM Weight The volumetric weight of a package determined by multiplying the length, width, and height to get the volume and dividing by a Dimensional Factor. Essentially determines the density.
Diplomatic Post Office DPO A post office or PO box at an embassy for Diplomats and the US State Department. Only USPS delivers to DPO addresses.
Direct to Consumer DTC, B2C A shipment sent directly to a customer rather than a customer purchasing in store.
Dispatch   To release a driver/trailer/truck from a facility.
Downgrade DG Using a ground service level even though customer requested overnight/express because it can still meet commitments but at a cost savings
Drop Ship DS A shipment directly from a vendor to the customer skipping the ‘middleman’ or seller’s warehouse.
Extended Delivery Area Surcharge EDAS Additional fee shippers pay when packages are delivered to extremely remote residential addresses. Think remote, hard to reach addresses.
Fleet Post Office FPO A post office or PO box on a military base for navy service members. Only USPS delivers to FPO addresses.
Freight   Goods transported in bulk by truck, train, ship, or aircraft.


Fuel Surcharge FS Additional fee shippers pay for fuel costs that a carrier incurs while shipping. Often charged as a percent of the total base freight charges in conjunction with the DOT’s weekly fuel scales.
Gaylord   Large corrugated box typically with a pallet size foot print (48”x40”) and height of 48” to 96”. Used to ‘overpack’ smaller packages & polybags.
Hazardous Materials HazMat, Haz Products that are dangerous to ship via certain methods or require special care. These products can include batteries, perfumes, and aerosols. They require special markings on the outside of the packaging, and require further classification & documentation to ship Air.
Induct/ Induction Point The location where packages are accepted (inducted) into a carrier’s network.
Intercept Interrupting a package in transit to reroute or initiate a return to sender. A shipper would chose to do this if a customer selected the wrong destination address or the shipper sent the wrong product.
Large Package Surcharge LPS Additional fee shippers pay when packages are small enough for the parcel network but require lots of additional handling due to size or weight.
Length + Girth L+G 2 x the width + 2 x the height where length is the longest side. Used to determine the maximum dimensions allowed for certain carriers and service levels.
Must Ship By MSB The date/time a package has to leave a site in order to get to the carrier on time to make sort.
Node The origin for the shipment. Could be the DC, FC, or Store depending on the shipper and shipment.
Non-Conveyable Non-Con Products or packages that are too large for a conventional conveyor system.
Over Maximum Surcharge OMS Additional fee shippers pay when packages are too large for the parcel network but were still shipped in the parcel network. Carriers will often still deliver but for a fee of $850 or more.
Over-pack (v)   To place & seal smaller packages within a larger package or container.  Polybagged parcels are ‘overpacked’ in a Gaylord for transport.
Overage, Shortage, Damage OSD Report that notes an overage, shortage, or damage to the shipment.


 Pkg An item or collection of items wrapped in paper, corrugate, or poly in order to be carried or transported.
Post Office Box PO Box, PO A locker unit inside a post office to which customers can have mail or packages delivered. Only the USPS is legally authorized to deliver mail and packages to a PO box.
Proof of Delivery POD Proof provided by a carrier that they delivered a package to the recipient. Can include GPS scans, signatures, or photographs taken of the package.
Residential Surcharge Resi Additional fee shippers pay when packages are delivered to a residential address rather than a commercial address. Think a home in a neighborhood versus an office on a busy street.
Seal Plastic strap or bolt with a unique serial number used to lock a trailer or truck door, and act as proof of tampering if load arrives with seal changed or removed.
Seal Number Unique serial number found on trailer seals.  Used to ensure load security.
Solo Driver  Solo A single driver who completes a deliver alone. A driver is only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours and must rest for 10 hours.
Sort Sort as a noun – the process where packages are sorted by the carrier for distribution to the next terminal or delivery point.
Surcharges SC Additional fees shippers pay in addition to the base freight charge for a variety of reasons such as fuel or additional handling.
Team Driver   Two drivers working together complete a deliver. The drivers take turns driving and resting to follow DOT driving restrictions and guidelines.
Tender To release freight to a driver/carrier.
Tracking ID The numeric, scan-able ID given to a package for use with a shipping carrier. Allows the customer to track their package on the carrier’s site. One order can have multiple packages and therefore multiple Tracking IDs.
Upgrade Using a faster service level than requested in order to meet customer commitment
Zone Essentially a distance factor from origin to customer address. It is used with weight to determine the shipping expense. Closer zones typically ship faster and cost less than far zones.
Zone Skipping Choosing to linehaul the freight to an induction point closer to the final destination to take advantage of closer zones. Often only economical for high density shippers.


In today’s world, instant gratification is not only possible, but it has become the expectation. However, buying online has also become the norm rather than purchasing at brick-and-mortar locations. This means an inevitable wait for products to arrive. And while ecommerce shipment times have improved over the years, there’s mystery in the interim. Here are a few of the most common customer service questions we get asked after a package ships:

Where is my package?

Or as we call it in the ecommerce industry “WISMO” aka “Where is my order?” Naturally, you want to be able to follow your package’s journey to you from the moment it ships! Full transparency WISMO capability is evolving all the time providing more end to end lines of sight into where your package is at any given moment.

AirTerra’s WISMO page can be found here.

Why do I have multiple tracking numbers for one order?

There are many moving parts within a package journey to you. These are separated into “miles” and consist of first, middle and final (last) mile. Sometimes shipping companies will use several carriers throughout your package’s journey, which is why you might see your initial tracking number provided by your retailer, but two tracking numbers on your package, as one may be the final mile carrier.

AirTerra’s tracking numbers will reflect all “miles” of your package journey even if multiple carriers are used.

I need additional help, what should I do?

While it is nice to have a variety of options to self-serve issues, sometimes you still have a question that is not covered. It is always good to start with the retailer you made your purchase with for the most expedited solution. AirTerra works closely with retail customer service teams to get consumers fast resolutions. At AirTerra, we pass all of our shipping data through to our retail customers for a unified tracking experience!

If you do need to get in touch with AirTerra directly, you can reach us here!

Here is what to expect from UPS:

  • an average net increase of 5.9% for UPS Ground, UPS Air, and International services; and
  • an average net increase of 5.2% for UPS Air Freight within and between the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico

In addition to the overall price increases, UPS is continuing to punish large package shippers with its pricing efforts. The message is clear: if you want to ship large packages at UPS, you will pay a premium to do so. The large package surcharge will increase within the 8%-16.7% range and the additional handling weight/dimensions will increase from 5.2%-13.9% depending on zone. And the majority are increasing by more than the announced 5.9%.

For all retailers, UPS is also continuing to penalize lightweight shippers, with ground minimum charges increasing 6.9%, from $8.76 to $9.36, with 1 pound-to-5 pound packages to increase by almost 8%, with most of the largest percentage changes in the lower weights and fairly consistent across zones.

Additional charges Increases: Delivery Charges; Pickup Charges Remote/Extended Delivery and Pickup Charges; Residential Surcharge; Return Services w/ Pickup; Saturday Delivery and Pickup; Signature Required Services; Additional Handling, Large Package and Over Maximum Limits; Oversize Pallet Handling Surcharge; and Peak Surcharges.

UPS confirmed what most of the marketplace has already concluded – UPS is focused on driving profits first and is far less focused on maintaining relationships with their customers. Increases for 2022 will be larger than those in the past and this “peak” is highly unlikely to end anytime soon.


Here is what to look for from FedEx:

FedEx’s rates will increase by an average of 5.9%. Premium services will experience higher increases than Ground, especially in shorter zones.

  • Priority and Standard Overnight shipments for zones 2-4 will increase by 7.1% or more.
  • Express Saver rates for zones 2-4 will increase by as much as 9.8%.
  • Ground service rates will increase by about 6.0% across all zones.

What about the Ground minimum?

That’s changing from $8.76 per package to $9.36 per package – an increase of 6.8%.

How will the Residential surcharge be impacted?

More shippers will trigger the post-peak Residential surcharge. Plus, that surcharge will cost considerably more:

  • Shippers will trigger the Residential surcharge sooner – when they hit 25,000 packages rather than last year’s threshold of 30,000 packages.
  • The $0.60 per package Residential surcharge that will go into effect for high-volume weekly shippers on January 17, 2022 represents a 100% increase over last year’s $0.30 post peak Residential surcharge.

    What about the Ground minimum?

    That’s changing from $8.76 per package to $9.36 per package – an increase of 6.8%.

    How will the Residential surcharge be impacted?

    More shippers will trigger the post-peak Residential surcharge. Plus, that surcharge will cost considerably more:

    • Shippers will trigger the Residential surcharge sooner – when they hit 25,000 packages rather than last year’s threshold of 30,000 packages.
    • The $0.60 per package Residential surcharge that will go into effect for high-volume weekly shippers on January 17, 2022 represents a 100% increase over last year’s $0.30 post peak Residential surcharge.

    What’s happening with the Additional Handling and Oversize surcharges?

    FedEx’s Additional Handling and Oversize surcharges are both changing from flat fees to zonal ones. And depending on how far packages ship, it could wind up costing companies up to 38% more than they’re currently paying.

    • Only Zone 2 shipments will cost a bit less (just $0.25) for Additional Handling in 2022.
    • For Zones 3+, all other Additional Handling charges will see prices ranging from:
      o $17.50 to $21.50 for dimensional (up 9.3 – 34.3% from this year’s charge of $16.00)
      o $27.50 to $31.50 for weight (up 7.8 – 23.5% from this year’s charge of $25.50)
      o $16.00 to $18.00 for packaging (up 14.3 – 28.6% from this year’s charge of $14.00)
    • Customers of U.S. Express and FedEx Ground will pay Oversize surcharges of anywhere from $110.00 to $145.00 per package (up 4.8 – 38.1% from this year’s charge of $105.00).
    • FedEx Home Delivery customers will be charged anywhere from $135.00 to $170.00 per package (up 3.8 – 30.8% from this year’s charge of $130.00).


    Are there any new surcharges?

    FedEx has also added several new charges – or modified existing ones – to make the terms more favorable for its bottom line. For example:

    • Ground Economy (formerly called SmartPost) shippers will also be subject to a new $1.00 per package surcharge for any package that is classified as “delivered or returned.”
    • The International Out-of-Pickup-Area and Out-of-Delivery-Area surcharge will be based on a tiered zip code list.

    There is a silver lining in the shipping marketplace. Companies like AirTerra are the answer to the aggressive price increases and unilateral capacity caps hitting retail and DTC brand shippers by the duopoly. AirTerra built a nationwide delivery network that provides a super reliable,
    cost-effective option for zones 6-8 parcel shipping as well as the shorter zones – whether you need more capacity, more reliable delivery times, or just a more competitive price.

    In summary, retailers shouldn’t wait until peak season is over to avoid high shipping costs, because additional charges await you in 2022. It’s time to utilize companies like AirTerra rather than wasting more money with the duopoly.