Basics of Shipping Using the United States Postal Service
Today is being discussed the basics of shipping, and offering this service through the Unites States Postal Service (USPS). I will be discussing this service as this is the one that I use myself, and have dealt with over the years. Keep in mind this is not the only service available to use for shipping. This is something you will research a little more due to what you size, the size of items you sell, and also the weight of the items too. Some like to use Fed Ex, and there are some who like to use UPS as well.
I am most experienced with using Priority Mail with the Postal Service. For those who sell lighter weight, and smaller items using First Class Mail is a good option for those. Remember, there are several ways for you to use in shipping, and it is nice to know a little bit about the services before hand too.
Express Mail. Once in a while a customer might ask for this service because they want the item shipped to them over night, and want to use express mail. Generally when customers request this service they will also offer to pay for it. That is a good thing because this service is a bit more spendy, and would be costly for you to have to pay it. You can easily get a quote from the USPS.com site. Most customers will not realize how much more this faster service will cost them. So, it is best to give them a quote as you will see many will decide against using it then. Yes, it's nice that it ships over night, or next day service. Prices will be a bit cheaper online than at the post office, but it still starts generally over $10.00 for this service, and up.
Priority Mail. This service is offered as a 2 day service, and generally will arrive in 2-3 days to the customer. There have been times that it has taken a bit longer than the 3 days, and you will find that the post office does not guarantee fully the arrival time. Your issues for any hold ups can be many things, but you will learn it happens during the distribution centers with the post office.
With Priority Mail you will get free tracking, and they now offer the insurance included free for items up to $50 in value. Anything over that there is a small extra fee to be paid. You can also order online the priority boxes to use, they ship to you for free, and the boxes are free to get too. There is also the Flat Rate Priority Mail that many will use too. Please, before you use the Flat Rate check into it a little bit more. Many times you will find that is is cheaper to use the regular Priority Mail compared to the Flat Rate Service. Another Priority Service they have added is using Regional Flat Rate. The prices are suppose to be better with this, and when I asked at my post office I found out it was something that had to be done online to use this particular service. I have not used it yet, but will have to look into it further for me to use as I might be able to save more shipping cost for the customer with it.
If you are going to ship packages that weigh more than 13 oz this might be the better service for you to use.
First-Class. This service ships at the same speed, and service as a stamped letter will. Domestic shipping (within the Continental United States, except to Hawaii and Alaska) has a delivery of 3 days, or less. This would probably be your best option for the price to use if using envelopes, or packages to ship.
Remember with First Class it will generally ship within 2 days, and can be 3 days at the most.
Parcel Standard Post, and Media Mail is the cheapest ways to ship. They are also the slower shipping services to use too. The estimated shipping for this is generally 2-8 days. Standard post would be your cheaper way to ship with heavier, larger packages as they will allow up to 130 pounds. However, if you are shipping a reasonable weight in a box the faster shipping service is generally less than a dollar more to do so.
Media Mail is generally for shipping like books, DVDs, and CDs. Most of these kind of items will weigh less than 13 oz. So, you might want to consider First Class mail then since it would be a better deal. Now, if you have a heavier book to ship Media Mail would be the option to consider.
Your packages generally will arrive within a week with these 2 services, or up to about 8 days at the most. If your items are heavier, and bulkier than you could consider this service. I would also like to mention that if you are doing that kind of shipping you might want to check into Fed Ex, and UPS to compare prices.
With shipping there is also some advanced options that you will need to know about using too. Tracking, Insurance, and Confirmation will be available for most of your packages. There is an additional expense for these too. Remember as mentioned that insurance is included for up to $50 free of charge with Priority Mail. It might not be necessary to use these extra services, but it is nice to have the documentation to offer to your customers too.
I have been shipping packages since 2004, and I am fortunate that I have not had to replace any shipments, had any lost shipments, or any damaged shipments either.
Tracking is done cheaper on line for cost compared to the purchase of it at the post office. Now, if you use Click-N-Ship online to buy, and print your postage with USPS it comes as a free option with Priority Mail, Standard, and First Class too. You would just check the box on the address forms, and then you and the customer will receive email tracking on the package. Supplying the tracking number to the customer also allows them to go in, and track the shipment as well too.
There is Shipping Confirmation that I have not mentioned either. Using this service does cost, and the customer would have to be there upon it's arrival to sign for it. If they are not there at the time of delivery a card/notice will be left for them to pick the item up at the post office. In this notice it will also notify them of how long they have to pick the item up before it is sent back to the original shipper.
International Shipping. Many sellers do not want to open up to this service for their products to ship. I have heard many sellers mention that when they started offering International Shipping that they seen an increase with their sales too. Within the United States if your items qualify to ship First Class, or with Priority Mail then you would be able to use International Shipping too.
Generally Priority Mail can take about 6-10 business days. You can also ship up to 4 pounds for First Class Mail which would be the cheaper service to offer. Keep in mind it can also take longer with First Class to ship with about 10-14 business days. I have seen some sellers note that it can take up to 6 weeks for these shipments. There can be delays depending on what country it is going to. Also, customers who are using International Shipping need to be reminded that they are the ones responsible for the tariff fees, custom fees, and any taxes that their countries charge. There is no way for us to know these fees, and they are never included with the shipping cost. That is something they have to take care of in their own countries.
Some International Customers will ask that packages be marked as a "gift" too. This is something you cannot do for them. They are trying to by-pass fees, it is illegal, and so you do not jeopardize your shipping privileges with International you cannot do this. It simply is not permissable.
To get an idea of how much any kind of shipping would cost with USPS you can visit their site for their price sheet online.
I forgot to mention that when you ship Internationally there are customs forms that need to be filled out as well. I believe with some of the postal changes that those forms can now be done online as well. In order to ship over seas all you will need for information is the sender and recipient's information, the package weight, and the package value too.
As you get started with your shipping you will find that you will either under charge your customers which it becomes your cost, or you might over charge them which you need to know when you will reimburse the difference to them. Some sellers will reimburse if they charge $1.00 or more because of the fees if it is anything less than a dollar it is not worth reimbursing to them. Customers do not get over excited about that small of a fee under a $1.00.
Make sure to get familiar with your shipping options, and explore all of the services that are offered. It helps to determine the best value that you can offer to your customers for the products that you will be offering with your online business.
Don't forget to visit with Market Your Creativity to see her layout of what she is sharing with all these topics we have been covering so far.
Well that completes the basics of shipping with your online business for today. Thanks for visiting with LilacsNDreams. See you again soon with another topic that will be shared with having your online business. See you ~ ~ ~