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Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

USPS Testing Automated Parcel Drop Stations

October 19th, 2017 Comments off

The next time you pop into the Post Office to drop off a package you might have a new option for handing it over for shipment. The U.S. Postal Service is currently testing Automated Parcel Drop (APD) self-serve kiosks in a handful of Post Office locations.

How does Automated Parcel Drop work?

The APD is a self-service machine with which you can ship packages using pre-paid shipping labels, as well as merchandise return parcels.

Many e-commerce sellers are familiar with dropping off packages at a designated location within the Post Office. As long as your package includes pre-paid shipping label—typically printed from an online postage vendor such as Stamps.com—a seller can bypass the line and simply drop their packages off for delivery. However, this process does not generate an acceptance scan until the USPS employee processes the package, which could be many hours after drop off.

The APD fixes that problem by allowing a seller to scan the label (generating an acceptance scan) and deposit the package inside at the self-service kiosk.

“For our small-business customers and customers that shop online, Automated Parcel Drops make shipping and returning packages a smoother, simpler process,” Kelly Sigmon, USPS Retail and Customer Service Operations VP, said in an article introducing the APD kiosks.

Using an Automated Parcel Drop is a quick process—just scan your package’s pre-paid label barcode, deposit the package through the APD’s door and take your tracking receipt, which notes an acceptance scan date, time and other tracking information. Maximum parcel size the APD machine can accept is 24” by 16” by 12”.

“I love it. You press a button, scan your package, lift the door, place package inside, close it, and it prints a receipt,” says one eBay Community user of the Automated Parcel Drop kiosk located in a Cupertino, California Post Office.

USPS is currently testing the Automated Parcel Drop kiosks in five Post Office locations (in California, Florida, New Work, North Dakota and Virginia) with more installations planned, as well as improvements that will allow APDs to accept packages with labels printed from mobile devices.

 

Categories: USPS News Tags:

What’s a Managed Service Point?

September 29th, 2017 Comments off

One day you may come home from work and see a barcode affixed to your curbside mailbox. You take a closer look and above the barcode it says “Managed Service Point.” Below the barcode it will show your mailing address.  You also spot the United States Postal Service logo with the familiar eagle. What does this all mean?

Not to worry: if you see this barcode on your mailbox, this is a good thing! It means that your curbside mailbox is now a Managed Service Point (MSP). An initiative of the USPS, the MSP program represents an effort, using scanning technology, to ensure greater delivery consistency and accountability.

Along his or her route, the USPS carrier is required to scan MSP barcodes every day at these checkpoints with a Mobile Data Collection Device (MDCD). This ensures that service levels and punctuality can be tracked with this scan data. MDCD scanning rates also provide critical data to the USPS regarding carrier routes and traffic volumes. Even if no mail is delivered at that specific address, the carrier will still scan the MSP barcode. Managed Service Points are selected strategically from the carrier’s delivery points.  With about 15 carrier routes per ZIP Code, and with each carrier’s route consisting of 500 to 700 delivery points, the MSP program provides invaluable data to the USPS about its service levels!

Make Stamps.com Work for You

Even if your residence is not designated by the USPS as a Managed Service Point, you can still transform your home or office into a center of consistent delivery and reliability. With the Stamps.com program, you can analyze your volumes and customers’ needs by using our powerful accounting features. Click on the Reports tab on the left side of your software. This tool allows you to organize your print activity, track expenses, and reconcile expenses. You can also the check the “Email Recipient” box and enter your recipient’s email address so that you can notify your customers that a package is on its way.

Click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar of the software to request a free USPS pickup service. Mail will be picked up by the carrier at the regular drop-off time. This free USPS pickup service is available for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express International, Priority Mail International, and Global Express Guaranteed. Mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes (such as First-Class Mail) can be picked up as long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class.

Categories: USPS News Tags:

Is it OK to Mail Prescription Medicines Through USPS?

September 22nd, 2017 Comments off

Wondering if it’s legal to use USPS to ship drugs? It’s definitely important to remain compliant with federal and state laws regarding the shipment of medicines, drugs, and controlled substances via the USPS.  Here’s a rundown of what’s allowed—and what’s prohibited.

Prescription medicines

According to USPS rules, if you want to ship prescription medicines, you must be a drug manufacturer, a registered agent of a drug manufacturer, pharmacy, medical practitioner, or other authorized dispenser.

Over-the-counter drugs

What about non-prescription medicines like pain and fever reducers (i.e. Tylenol, Advil), cold and cough medicines, decongestants, and antihistamine pills?

You can mail over-the-counter drugs, which are medicines purchased or obtained without a prescription. However, you would still need to be compliant with local and federal laws like the Poison Prevention Packaging Act and the Consumer Product Safety Act.

Controlled substances

Controlled substances, such as narcotics, anabolic steroids, and hallucinogenic drugs, cannot be mailed internationally and in cases of domestic mail, you would have to be an authorized dispenser, such as a medical practitioner or pharmacist. The USPS takes the shipment of narcotics very seriously, and the Postal Inspection Service Prohibited Mail Narcotics program investigates shipments of illegal drugs through the mail and works closely with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat this illicit trade.

Marijuana/cannabis

While marijuana/cannabis has been decriminalized in some states for recreational or medical use, mailing marijuana via the USPS is still illegal. Considered a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it is important to remember that marijuana is unmailable.

Drug paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia, such as pipes of various materials, are considered restricted matter and cannot be mailed domestically or internationally.

 

For further information on USPS regulations regarding drugs and medicines, please see: http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_019.htm

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Can you mail eggs with USPS?

September 15th, 2017 Comments off

Which came first—the chicken or the egg?  The egg, if you ship it through the U.S. Postal Service! Since eggs are mailable with the USPS under certain guidelines, you can use Stamps.com to make the process easy for you.

Eggs are very sensitive to temperature changes, so monitoring weather for upcoming snowstorms or heat waves that may affect the shipping destination is a good idea. Send them by a fast mail class such as Priority Mail Express.

How should I package my eggs?

When you’re shipping eggs, the USPS also asks that you individually cushion each egg. Use bubble wrap to avoid breakage and shock-proof packaging material such as shredded paper to cushion the individually bubble-wrapped eggs.  Pack your individual eggs closely but not too tightly.

A number of egg varieties exist, from a Rhode Island Red’s brown eggs to a Leghorn chicken’s white ones, but using a USPS Flat Rate Box, such as the Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box, will keep your postal rates consistent for all types of eggs. What’s more, barcoded shipping labels printed via Stamps.com have built-in, free tracking. You can also use our Shipment Notification feature to email tracking information to your recipients and give them an accurate idea of when to expect their package.

Don’t crack under the pressure: you can order free USPS packaging by logging into your software and clicking on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”  Click on the “Free USPS Supplies” tab and order the right box or envelope for your mailing needs today!

For peace of mind, we recommend requesting a free USPS pickup when shipping eggs.  The free USPS pickup service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. In the Stamps.com software, click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar of the software to start the process.

For further USPS details on mailing eggs domestically, please see:   http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_010.htm

Can I send eggs internationally?

If you want to ship eggs to a destination outside of the U.S., you must use Priority Mail International. We recommend researching specific import restrictions by accessing the Individual Country Listings here: https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immctry.htm

For specific packing instructions on mailing eggs internationally, please see: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c6_015.htm

Categories: Shipping Tags:

All About USPS Postal Zones

September 8th, 2017 Comments off

Imagine that the originating point of your mail is your home or office. Your mailpieces, bearing postage printed with the powerful Stamps.com program, will travel to a wide variety of destination points on the map. If you draw a perfect circle on a piece of paper with a compass, your originating point will be where the compass needle hits the paper, and the arc would represent the destination zones.

The USPS uses a distance-based system of postal zones. This means that the area that is considered Zone 1, for example, would change depending on where you are. The farther a zone is, the higher the zone number.  Distance also affects the price of postage and the farther a zone is, the higher the postage cost if you are sending non-Flat Rate mailpieces. The farther the zone, the longer the mail will take to get there.  Simple, right?

Make this radial, distance-based system work for you. The Postal Service’s Domestic Zone Chart has two useful tools. First, you can get a Zone Chart by entering the first 3-digits of your ZIP Code—for example, “967” for ZIP Code 96795.

You can also plug in a mailpiece’s origin ZIP and destination ZIP to determine the appropriate zone. Say you’re sending a case of bottled water from Manchester, New Hampshire (ZIP Code 03101) to Honolulu, Hawaii (ZIP Code 96795). For this pair, Zone 8 pricing and travel times would apply. If you’re sending the package from Manchester, but this time it’s headed to Concord, New Hampshire (ZIP Code 03301), it would be Zone 1.

If you’re an e-commerce seller, this will help determine what you want to charge for shipping and whether switching to Flat Rate Boxes, in which the price remains the same regardless of distance, is a better fit.  If you have a secondary office or a partner working from another location, you may want to coordinate your efforts to ensure that certain items are sent over shorter distances.

Using the Stamps.com software 

The Stamps.com platform will take the guesswork out of zones. You’ll never have to enter the zone number. However, it is helpful to keep zones in mind as you look for the most economical way to ship your packages. When using zone-based mailing and shipping services, you’ll notice that you may have to enter dimensions for some mailpieces. The higher the zone number (and longer the travel distance), the more likely you’ll have to enter package dimensions.

To ensure you’re paying the correct rate of postage, always enter the dimensions when the software asks that you input them. For non-Flat Rate envelopes and boxes, you may be subject to a USPS Dimensional Weight Surcharge for Zones 5-8. The Stamps.com software will take stress out of the equation and calculate this automatically for you.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

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