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What Is Flat-Rate Shipping and When Should You Use It?

Brody Hall
By Brody Hall
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published July 20, 2022.

Woman taking picture of a box package in a office with other box packages

Flat-rate shipping is a shipping option that allows customers to pay a fixed price for shipping, regardless of the weight or size of the package. This is a popular shipping option for online retailers as it eliminates the need to calculate shipping costs for each individual order.

How Does Flat-Rate Shipping Work?

Since flat-rate shipping doesn't change, it makes it easier for customers to know what they will be paying for shipping, often leading to savings on larger orders. Typically, the customer is charged one flat fee for shipping, determined by the retailer. This fee may be based on the weight of the order, the size of the package, or both. The retailer then pays a discounted rate to ship the items using a carrier like UPS or FedEx.

There are some restrictions on flat-rate shipping. For example, not all items can be shipped using this method as they might be outside the allowed dimensions. Additionally, not all retailers offer flat-rate shipping.

Thinking about launching an e-commerce store, but aren’t sure which platform to use? If so, check out our Wix vs. Shopify guide.

Pros & Cons of Flat-Rate Shipping

Flat-rate shipping has some pros and cons that should be taken into consideration.


  • Simplicity There are no hidden fees or surprises with flat-rate shipping. The price is the price, and it's always the same, regardless of the size or weight of the package.
  • Cost-effectiveness Flat-rate shipping can be cheaper than other types of shipping, especially when you're sending multiple items at once.
  • Convenience This type of shipping is convenient for customers because they know exactly how much they will be spending on shipping, and they don't have to worry about calculating the cost each time they make a purchase.


  • Cost Even though flat-rate shipping can be cheaper than other methods, it can also be more expensive than other options, especially when shipping oversized options.
  • Risk of customer dissatisfaction Customers may not get the best deal on large or bulky items. For example, a retailer may offer a flat rate of $10 for all orders under $100, but charge $25 for orders over $100, even though the item to be shipped is quite small.

Can Flat Rate Shipping Boost Sales?

One of the benefits of using a flat rate shipping system is that it can help boost sales by appealing to customers who are comparison shopping online and want to find the best deal on shipping.

A study by Shopify found that, when businesses offered free shipping, only 31% of orders included more than one item. However, when businesses offered a flat rate for shipping, regardless of the number of items in an order, the percentage of orders with multiple items increased to 43%. This indicates that a flat rate shipping system can encourage customers to buy more items at once, resulting in increased sales and higher profit margins.

Do you want to read about another great way to boost sales? Then take a look at the best Shopify apps to increase profit.

How Long Does Flat-Rate Shipping Take?

Shipping can be one of the most frustrating aspects of online shopping due to varying wait times—but does the type of shipping affect this? Unfortunately, flat-rate shipping won't affect the shipping times much. The average wait times for different shipping methods, based on data from Shopify, are as follows:

  • Standard Shipping: 2-5 business days
  • Expedited Shipping: 1-3 business days
  • Priority Shipping: 1 business day
  • Flat Rate Shipping: 2-7 business days

Keep in mind that these are just averages—orders can arrive sooner or later.

Differences Between Flat-Rate and Standard Shipping

Flat-rate shipping is a shipping option that allows customers to pay a set price for shipping, regardless of the weight or size of their order. Standard shipping is the most common type of shipping that involves charging customers based on the weight of the package and its destination.

There are several key differences between flat-rate and standard shipping. First, standard shipping is typically more expensive than flat-rate shipping. Second, standard shipping is not always available for every item; whereas flat-rate shipping is typically available for any item that can be shipped.

Are you running a Shopify store? If so, check out how to calculate COGS for Shopify or read about the best Shopify sales apps.