Monday, March 24, 2008

Easily Ship and Mail from Your Business:

When I think of the US Postal Service, one word comes to mind:


Not “efficiency.” Not “reliability.” Not even “mail.” No, my first reaction is to wince.

Sure, the USPS is attempting to be a more competitive, appealing choice for shippers and businesses. It wants to encourage people to keep mailing in an Internet age. It has a mission to dispel the label of “snail mail.”

But frankly, it still sucks.

Navigating the labyrinthine rules of mailing and shipping with the USPS is maddening. There are so many "if, then" equations that it's like being stuck in an SAT nightmare.

If you want Flat Rate Priority Mail shipping rates, then you must use Flat Rate Priority Mail shipping box A or box B, but not Priority Mail box A, B, or C, nor standard boxes A, B, C, or D. If you want your package to arrive in 1-2 days in Zone A, then you must choose First Class Mail or Priority Mail, but only First Class Mail if the package is sized below variable X and weighs below variable Y. If your package is larger than variable X and weighs above variable Y, then you may not choose First Class Mail, you may choose Priority Mail, but then your package will deliver in 2-3 days. If you have a package in a plain box, that weighs 2 lbs., 1 oz., and is traveling to Lansing, Michigan, then what label or postage should you choose for delivery in 2-3 days?

Without fail, the USPS website makes me pull my hair in frustration. Post offices make me tense and irritable. Postal forms stymie this user every single time. Rather than waste 45 minutes online trying to figure out which custom form it is I need to send my package into Canada, I've learned that it's faster for me just to fill out both.

When I started my online store, then, it’s no surprise that my shipper of choice was UPS.

Several months into shipping, however, the numbers made me reconsider my choice. My UPS account is expensive. And the benefits that used to make UPS stand out from the USPS—delivery notification, speed, reliability, carrier pickup—are all services that the USPS now offers. Plus, USPS packages will get across country in 2-3 days, whereas UPS packages take 5-7 days.

Oh, if only there were some way to harness the power of the USPS without having to DEAL with the USPS.

There is.

I’ve been trying now for a month and I love it. It is a fee-based service: for the standard plan, the cost is $15.99 per month. Packages for extra users and business that need to maintain higher postage balance go up to $34.99 per month. is so easy to use: in less than 10 minutes, I had installed and customized my account, printed my first Priority Mail shipping label and set my package out for the mail carrier pick-up.

Ah, yes. That’s how it should be.

In addition to printing shipping labels from your computer, lets you:
* print stamps
* print postage directly to envelopes and postcards
* complete customs forms for international shipping
* custom design and order stamps with your business logo on them
* hide postage costs on your shipping labels
* receive instant email notification of package pick-up and delivery
* and more

Buying postage is practically instantaneous and the printing options are so flexible (print on basic 8.5” x 11” paper in your printer, cut and tape to package, or print on label sheets that you can get from Avery® or, choose from a variety of sizes for additional cost-savings and to ensure proper fit on package, etc.). has saved me money and time, two things that I guard carefully in my business’s start-up phase.

I recently learned of another service akin to A quick visit to their website shows a similar suite of product and service offerings at comparable rates. I haven't worked with, so I can't say which company has the better service, but I'm confident that whichever one you choose, either is better for business than working with the USPS directly.

Standard plan allowing you to print and ship packages from your office: $15.99 per month.

Postage printing supplies from store: $2.99.

Completely avoiding the Post Office forever: Priceless.

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