I'm a former UPSer just so you know - I was an account rep there for a while. Indeed there are deep discounts available to franchises, but they're also conditional on shipping volume, rolling averages, and a lot of other tricky shipping stuff. So one guy at one low-volume franchise may pay more than the another franchise guy across the street for the same zone/wt/dim package.
If memory serves, these guys aren't making a TON off of shipping and the differences between rates - a lot of their income comes from other sources such as mailbox rentals, copying machines etc. Also, if I remember correctly, shipping franchises (UPS Stores, MBE, Goin' Postal, etc.) charge the regular retail rate at the counter and there may be some requirements to do that, though I don't remember many details as to the nature of the contracts. The motivation though is definitely there as they may be making just a few cents per package on some services.
Conversely, there are association bids that shippers can get attached to that provide for discounts, but again, this is for shippers, and not retail-type operations, and some of the same volume/revenue requirements remain depending on the bid. Trying to pass along those discounts via a retail channel could be troublesome from a number of perspectives.
Now if you look at brokering freight - LTL or TL - there may be some options there, but you're working with carriers independent or otherwise on a load-by-load basis, and it may be tough to break in to the market against established firms. Don't mean to rain on your parade, just speaking from my experience and looking at the shipping and logistics business from both sides - vendor and consumer.
thanks Rob, I am still exploring it appears that there are profitable margins in the international shipping market. I may have an opportunity that does not require a investment up front. But a independent rep for an existing business.
We used to run in to those guys from time to time. We had one guy who did fairly well locally. They were most effective in going after international air freight, container freight shipments full, or partial containers and brokering regular domestic freight rail or truck where UPS and FedEx weren't AS strong as NVOCCs, but I think that's changed with the increased efforts by UPS and FedEx to grab some of that market share. I don't know your market or the opportunities, but that might be your potential area of opportunity. These third party guys still couldn't compete with us on small package international pricing though.
In shipping it's not always about price, though a lot of customers acted that way. It's the ability to get things done - especially with international movements. There are so many points of contact, so much government regulation and so much red tape that being able to get things done - or get that person on the phone - was almost as valuable as the pricing.