Business Tips – Shipping Options – USPS

When it comes to choosing a shipping provider, there are a number of choices available.  For shipping needs in the United States, the US Postal Service is often the first that comes to mind, but are you using all it has to offer?  Here are a few tips that might make shipping a bit easier.

Junk Mail Envelopes by EcoMonster

Ship from home. An investment in a postal scale can be a moderate expense with a big pay-off in convenience.  Scales can be found online ranging from $25. and up, and can be found on sites like Ebay, Amazon, and the USPS website.  Rather than standing in line at the Post Office, you’ll be able weigh your packages and print postage at home, even for international shipments.

Integrate. A natural option for many sellers is to use Paypal shipping.  When a buyer pays you via Paypal, you’ll be able to print domestic postage, as well as Express and Priority International, with a few simple clicks.   Paypal can automatically send an email to the customer when you print postage, and provide their Delivery Confirmation number.  Postage can also be printed for customers who have not paid via Paypal by using their “Multi-order Shipping” tool.  Paypal automatically adds Delivery Confirmation to shipments and its accompanying .18 fee (free on Priority), but there is no additional fee for using Paypal shipping, and it’s a tool that is already at most of our fingertips.

Mary from herbanlifestyle says: “As far as shipping services go, I exclusively use the U. S. Postal Service (USPS). For one, it’s very convenient since I can use Click-n-Ship and ask for pick-up, or easily drop off my packages at my local station.”  Click-n-Ship is available through the USPS website and offers a number of shipping options.  The site lets you easily compare prices and delivery times for their services, and create an address book on the site which is handy when shipping to your “regulars”.   The USPS Shipping Assistant offers the same conveniences as Click-n-Ship, but without purchasing postage.  You can use the free download to create labels, compare pricing, and then either affix stamps or take the package to your Post Office for payment.

Endicia is another option for printing postage, and is one that offers postage for International First Class, unlike Paypal or USPS Click-n-Ship.  For someone who often ships via International First Class, the convenience of shipping them from home may outweigh the cost of  Endicia’s service.  Shipping plans start at $9.95 a month, and there are several different plans available.  Tiffany from Picnicbasketcrafts opted for the full bundle including a Dymo printer and upgraded service and says that she loves it.  She appreciates that she can immediately track every package, right through her shipping software, and know whether or not it has been delivered, and is enjoying the convenience that the Dymo printer is affording her.

Carrier Pick-Up.  Don’t have time to take your packages to the Post Office?  Can’t shove those packages into the slot at the drop-box?  Have the Post Office come to you.  By using Carrier Pick-up you can schedule a pick-up with your mail carrier to retrieve your packages.  Pick-ups are easily scheduled either the day before or scheduled up to 3 months in advance.  They can be scheduled directly through the USPS site or through Paypal shipping.  There are a few stipulations, such as you will need to be shipping at least one package via Express, Priority, or International, and there is a weight limit of 70 pounds per package.

Box it up.  Cindi from BrassPaperClip points out that the USPS offers free shipping boxes for Priority Mail.  Not only are their boxes eco-friendly and cradle-to-cradle certified, but they’ll be delivered right to your door.   A number of different sizes are available through the USPS store.  It takes a few days for the boxes to reach you so plan in advance.

What shipping options are you taking advantage of?  What is really working for you?



Comments

  1. Thanks so much, everyone! I live rurally and going to the post office regularly is not an option for me so I’m thrilled to be able to ship from home.

    Laura – that’s interesting. I wondered how other countries handled shipping, thank you for sharing!

    The FlowerBomber – Shipping costs are tricky, for sure. From my perspective, the $4.90 isn’t off-putting, but that’s partly due to the fact that I ship things and am aware of shipping costs. I guess it’s possible that a buyer who is not familiar with shipping prices might not understand as well and people do pass up items because they perceive the shipping price to be too high. A portion of the extra shipping costs could be built into your product price in order to keep your shipping costs reasonable, if that works with how you’re positioning your product pricing.

    Amy – I have my shop name, but not my web address, on my address labels. I should add that, great tip!

  2. I saw the cradle to cradle on the bottom of the boxes and wasn’t sure what it meant. Excellent! :)

    I always put a shop label on my packages (made from recycled paper of course). And I added my shop information in paypal – so the customer (and everyone else who handles the package) sees my shop name, not my personal name. Its good for advertising and in this crazy world the less your whole personal name with your address is out there the better.

    @The FlowerBomber – Your flower bombs are so cool! Priority price may be a bit steep. But also consider your costs if you feel you need boxes for your flower bombs. (i.e. are the fragile) I’m looking into cheaper shipping boxes/containers than I can get at my local office supply, because $1+/box is too expensive for my fragile items that I ship overseas. For those shipments I use first class so it makes shipping charges for them affordable. I also use mailers and first class for anything small, not fragile and under $25. Hope that’s of help.

  3. Great guide! Really good to know about the cradle-to-cradle certification for USPS Priority Mail boxes. I think Priority Mail offers the best experience for buyers, but I was too conflicted about using their boxes as wasteful. Curious how others feel about the shipping cost of Priority Mail? My Throw ‘n’ Grow seed balls cost $15 and am wondering if the $4.90 Priority Mail cost seems too steep from a buyer perspective — even though I think it offers the best value for the service. Would love any feedback from others.

  4. In Canada, we have similar options. I love using Paypal shipping (which takes you through Canada Post) for the convenience and tracking it provides. Most of my packages are small enough to be dropped in a mailbox. I can immediately see the costs of different shipping options, and have been surprised that sometimes Air Mail has been cheaper than surface with the business discount they apply. It was also an insurance of sorts when a paypal dispute had to be resolved–having all the data about shipping right there was a blessing! Canada post also offers “Ship-in-a-click”, but I believe it is slightly more expensive than going through Paypal. I don’t know the options of setting up a business account with Canada Post. I use a digital kitchen scale and it is worth every penny!

  5. Thanks Lisa for another excellent article. I didn’t know you could use Paypal for customers that do not use PP for payment using the multi-order shipping tool – what a great tip.
    Thanks!

  6. Great article Lisa! Thanks for including my tip. Here’s another one I forgot to mention…I use a kitchen scale for weighing my small packages…it will weigh parcels up to 5 lbs. For anything heavier I just use a regular bathroom scale. This may save people some money if they already have these things around their homes and you will have one less gadget to store and maintain. :)

  7. Hi Lilfishstudios and thank you so much for this helpful article about shipping options! My etsy shop is just starting to take off and I am driving one package to the post office a few times a week. I honestly knew nothing about the options you describe, and now, I have new tools to make my shipping easier and greener.

    I really appreciate this!
    Georgianne of Nestle and Soar Studio.