How many remember the good old days when the USPS used to offer much more by way of FREE services than they currently do (i.e. Priority Mail tape, etc)? Are you looking forward to the days when you'll end up paying for your Priority Mail boxes, envelopes, labels, etc. that so many enjoy now for FREE? If not, we need to make sure that we know to best use the system without abusing the system.
The purpose of this guide is to examine what the USPS provides for free and at what might be considered a great bargain, how how to take advantage of the value without taking advantage of the system.
Priority Mail Boxes and Shipping Supplies: While some of the products that many enjoyed for years are no longer supplied, there is still a great value to be had in using the FREE Priority Mail shipping supplies. Included in these offerings are boxes (in many different sizes), envelopes, labels, identification stickers, and more. The only stipulation (and this is important) -- they are only to be used for Priority Mail shipping.
Most of these supplies are currently only available online. The Post Office has decided to get into the retail business, and as a result don't let most of their locations carry these FREE supplies in stock -- they're in the business of making money, after all. Please check out the following links to see what is available and to order your supplies to be delivered to your door:
ebaysupplies dot usps dot com
shop dot usps dot com
Delivery Confirmation: In today's e-commerce society, a safeguard like Delivery Confirmation is almost a must for most sellers. Is it worth paying $0.65 at the counter for every one of your packages that you ship? That's debatable. But here's the good news -- if you print your postage electronically, it's absolutely FREE! Now, is it worth adding Delivery Confirmation to every one of your packages? Absolutely it is, especially when you consider that if a PayPal dispute is opened on a transaction, PayPal will almost always side with the buyer on an Item Not Received unless there is Delivery Confirmation proof that you mailed it. Don't risk it -- use this great FREE service whenever possible.
Flat Rate Boxes & Envelopes: In my opinion, one of the greatest new additions to the USPS shipping system is the introduction of the Flat Rate Envelope and Boxes. Though the price has gone up a little since the last postal increase, the ability to ship up to 70 lbs. for only $8.95 is a bargain that's worth its weight in gold. Though I've never gotten one up quite that heavy, I have had them up around 60 lbs, and I know that no other carrier will take that much weight from Tennessee to California for under $9.00. At the rate of $4.60, the Flat Rate Envelope is likewise a great bargain. I can ship chains all day long in those things at a substantial savings over the variable Priority Mail postage rate.
Again, please don't ruin the system for the rest of us. Don't turn your Flat Rate Envelope into a box, putting something unnaturally large in it, and expect a great value like this to remain indefinitely. It's a great system as long as people use it properly.
International Discounts: If you do any shipping at all internationally, check out these great discounts -- 5% off for Priority Mail and 8% off for Express Mail when the shipping is purchased electronically. The less time the Post Office has to spend handling your mail, the more you save. Though it doesn't seem like 5% might be very much, I guarantee you that it can add up over time to a substantial savings.
I hope that this guide will help you, particularly new sellers who might not know about some of these things,
to use the USPS Priority Mail system to their advantage. I know that when I was first starting out, I had to learn some of these things the hard way. And, while they may seem routine and pedantic for seasoned sellers, new sellers and those who are just beginning volume shipping need every advantage that they can get.