Keeping Your Home Office Organized

January 6th, 2017 Comments off

293368_SM_SDC_Blog_HomeOffice

 

New Year’s resolutions are all about self-improvement. Why not start with your mailing and shipping setup? With Stamps.com, you have the power to transform your home office into an efficient and powerful mailing and shipping center! Here are some tips to get started.

 

Keep Supplies Organized and Available 

 Boxes and supplies can create a lot of clutter and confusion. To maintain efficiency and to stay abreast of your supply inventories, set up a shelving system. Label each shelf or cubbyhole with specific supply types like “Bubble Mailers,” “Small Flat Rate Boxes,” “Medium Flat Rate Boxes” and “Regional Rate Boxes.” When you see a supply running low, order more supplies by visiting the Stamps.com Store.   Don’t get caught with a reduced inventory, or no supplies at all, which means having to run to the Post Office or an office supplies store. With Stamps.com, you can not only order free USPS supplies, but also purchase packing supplies, tape and tape guns, polybags, and special handling labels.

 

De-Clutter

 Invest in a desk with multiple, deep drawers. Label them to save time looking for the supplies you need.  Create a tape drawer, another one for labels, another for Sharpies and pens. Get rid of anything you don’t need. Scan important documents and recycle the rest. Invest in Incoming and Outgoing bins or containers. Keep frequently-used supplies within reach.

 

Make Favorites Work for You

 If you’re an online seller, it’s critical for the sake of good reviews and ensuring repeat business that you get your orders out as quickly as possible. If you ship the same kind of item on a regular basis, we recommend using Stamps.com’s powerful Favorites Feature. This allows you to save any print settings as a Favorite to be recalled at any point in time, thereby saving time filling out information for often used postage tasks. You can set up your print job as you would like to have it saved. Then, click on “Favorites” at the top of the Stamps.com software.

 

Audit Your Spending

Is your business working for you? A resolution for the new year is to analyze how money is spent and what kinds of orders are working for you. Are you spending too much money on Priority Mail Express when Priority Mail would work just as well?

Did you know you can create expense reports with the feature-rich Stamps.com software?   Stamps.com’s Reports Tool provides wide-ranging visibility, and organizes all of your important expense and postage-use data into one interface, allowing you to analyze your postage spending habits. To use the Reports Tool, log in to your Stamps.com software and look for the Reports icon on the left side of your screen, under the Manage Account section. You can collate and create Balance, Expense, and Print Activity reports.

You may also want to try the Stamps.com Cost Code feature, which allows you to track your postage costs for accounting purposes. Look for the Cost Code field at the bottom of the Print Postage tab. Once you have set up your cost codes, simply select the corresponding code each time you print. Stamps.com will send you a monthly email with your cost code usage.

 

Make Technology Work for You

New gadgets are cool, but do they work for your business? Invest in technology that keeps you organized and efficient. One great investment for your home office is a thermal printer. Thermal printers use direct imaging technology, so you can start 2017 getting rid of ink toners in your office and the huge expense that goes into buying and replacing them. You can also clear up a lot of desk space getting rid of that huge laser printer. Stamps.com sells a wide variety of thermal printers, from our very own Stamps.com ProLabel Thermal Printer to the ProLabel Express IE (Ethernet) Thermal Printer.

Categories: Free Guides Tags:

What you need to know about mailing plants

December 16th, 2016 Comments off

292298_SM_Stamps_Blog

You’re in Arizona and interested in sending a cactus to a friend in New York. Or you’re in Minnesota and want to send a Japanese maple to your mother in Oregon. Can you do this?

You can mail certain plants within the United States. However, keep in mind that when mailing plants, flowers, roots, seeds, and trees, there are rules governing how and if they can travel through the mailstream. It’s important to note that you, as the mailer, have the responsibility to ensure your mailing activity does not violate any law. USPS Publication 14 is a great place to start.

Threatened and Endangered Plants

One reasons regulations are in place is to protect threatened and endangered species. Not sure if what you want to mail is protected? Take a look at this database of endangered plants maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some threatened and endangered plants of California, for example, include the Baja rose (Rosa minutifolia), Santa Inez goldenbanner (Thermopsis macrophylla), and the Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta).

Pests and Diseases

Rules are also in place to ensure that plant pests and diseases do not spread and wreak havoc to industries and ecosystems. Therefore, for domestic mail, some plants that may be infested by insects or sickened by plant diseases may be subject to quarantine. Further information can be found at this USPS resource.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains a useful database of information on plant pests and diseases here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth

It’s important to stay current to avoid penalties.  Read up on pests. The coconut rhinoceros beetle, for example, detected in Hawaii, can do serious damage to coconut trees, and also feeds on commercial crops such as bananas, sugarcane, papayas, and pineapples. Citrus diseases like Citrus Black Spot and Sweet Orange Scab can also do damage to commercially important crops and production.

Other Domestic Guidelines

Individual states may have restrictions as well, so it’s always good practice to check with local plant health divisions before you mail any plant. For example, citrus plants are prohibited from entering California from other U.S. states. Fresh flowers of jade vine and Mauna Loa from Hawaii cannot be imported into the U.S. mainland and Alaska.

 International Mail

For international mail, plants (along with seeds, plant materials, fruits and vegetables), are subject to the USPS prohibitions and restrictions as well as the quarantine regulations of the destination country. For example, you need a plant health certificate if you’re mailing plants, seeds, or bulbs to France, and the United Kingdom also requires an import permit issued for plant shipments. Individual country listings and restrictions can be reviewed here.

 Preparing your shipment

When packing plants, the USPS requires the use of strong waterproof material, such as waxed Kraft paper, to maintain the moisture in the plant roots, but also to secure your mailpiece against leakage and damage during transit. Thorny plants should be wrapped in puncture-proof paper, and the tops of plant bundles should also be wrapped and covered.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Making Winter Delivery Easy and Safe for USPS

December 9th, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog Clearing a path for the USPS this winterSometimes a record-setting snowstorm can cause the closing of schools, banks, state offices, businesses, highways and roads. However, as a Stamps.com user, you can help reduce further disruptions by preparing your home and business for USPS Pickups during wintertime.

Safety and accessibility are key issues for the USPS, so remember to keep your driveways and sidewalks clear of snow, sleet, slush, ice and debris. Check your home’s access points every day. Make sure you clear any piles created by a local snow plow. Spread sand and salt at USPS vehicle stopping points.

The USPS will aim to reach every address this winter season, but keep in mind that if an access area is deemed a hazard, a delivery or pickup may not occur. Whether it is a patch of ice or six feet of snow, winter conditions can cause serious injuries for carriers.

You can also assist USPS carriers by ensuring snow isn’t piled up on, against, and around porch steps, curbside mailboxes, overhangs, and centralized cluster box units. For curbside boxes, a good rule of thumb is to remove enough snow to ensure that the carrier can reach the box from the delivery vehicle.

 

Scheduling a Free USPS Pickup

The winter season is a great opportunity to reach out to loved ones with letters, cards and postcards. If you have a home-based business, it’s also a great opportunity to increase your holiday sales. Don’t let snow get in the way of that! Make sure your home is accessible, safe, and ready for the USPS so that you can have a stress-free mailing season.

As a Stamps.com user, you can schedule a free USPS Pickup of your Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and First Class Mail International packages.

Print your shipping labels using the easy-to-use Packages section of our software. After that, you can click “USPS Pickup” on the left side of your screen, in the blue navigation toolbar. Select the packages that need to be picked up and click on the gray “Schedule Pickup” button.

Before you hit “Submit,” you can enter any special instructions for your carrier and also specify the package location by selecting one of the following options: Front Door, Back Door, Side Door, Knock on Door/Ring Bell, Mail Room, Office, Reception, or Other. Just make sure access to the package locations is snow-free!

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Best practices for shipping toys and holiday gifts

November 28th, 2016 Comments off

Stamps.com Blog Shipping ToysKids of all ages are busy writing their letters to Santa asking for all sorts of fun and playful gifts. Whether you are a toymaker, sell toys on your ecommerce site, or just plan to ship a gift to a loved one, Stamps.com can offer some advice! 

Stuffed Toys 
Stuffed animals and plush toys are meant to be lovingly squeezed, not squashed during transit. The best way to guarantee a great impression and the safe delivery of your stuffed toy is to ship the product in a box. However, for added protection and to prevent damage to a teddy bear’s plastic or glass eye, for example, you may also want to wrap the stuffed animal in transparent sealed bags, packing paper or bubble wrap. Remember that your recipient may open the box with a sharp cutter or a pair of scissors, so the best way to prevent damage to the stuffed animal is to use a box with some extra space for cushioning material. If you use a sealed bag or shrink wrap, clearly mark it with a suffocation warning label.

Action Figures and Boxed Collectibles
Some toys, such as action figures and collectibles, will already have packaging of their own. We recommend placing this package within a slightly larger box when shipping. Fill the empty spaces between the shipping container and the packaged toy with plenty of padding and peanuts. If you’re sending vintage or fragile toys, we recommend marking the package “Fragile” to prevent breakage. If the original packaging of the toy is vintage itself, collectors may be upset if there is any damage to the box’s corners, so you may want to wrap the original packaging in clear plastic.

Battery-operated Toys
Sending a remote-control car or robot? Keep in mind that restrictions exist for shipping lithium cells and batteries. For domestic mail, batteries cannot contain more than 1 gram of lithium content per cell and your package must have a complete delivery and return address. Restrictions vary depending on whether the lithium batteries are installed in the equipment, mailed with the equipment, or mailed without the equipment. For international mail, items may be prohibited by the destination country.  Check out USPS battery restrictions here. 

International Restrictions 
Remember that, if you’re shipping internationally, restrictions can exist regarding toys. These vary by country. For example, non-wood toys cannot be sent to Italy, toy guns cannot be sent to the United Kingdom, and children’s toys operated by steam or electricity cannot be sent to Indonesia in commercial shipments. Learn more about international shipping restrictions by country here.

Using Stamps.com to Ship Toys 
Reduce stress for your recipients by using our Shipment Notification feature. When you check the “Email Recipient” box on the Packages, International or Batch sections, the Stamps.com software sends an email to the package recipient indicating that the package has been sent. Under our “Packages” section, you can select one of our “Shipping Label” options. You can easily print a trackable label on plain paper or on one of our self-adhesive labels, such as the 4 1/4″ x 6 3/4″ shipping labels. With Stamps.com, you can print barcoded shipping labels for Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes (order your free USPS supplies at the Stamps.com Store!) and receive the discounted Commercial Base rate. If you want to use your own box, just select “Package/Thick Envelope” as your mailpiece and print out a barcoded shipping label. You’ll still receive the discounted Commercial Base rate! With Stamps.com, you can send First Class Packages with barcoded Shipping Labels as long as your package does not exceed 15.99 ounces. Otherwise, you can use Priority Mail, or if you need packages sent at the speed of a magic reindeer, Priority Mail Express. Remember that toys cannot be sent by Media Mail.

What you need to know about discounted military USPS shipping

November 4th, 2016 Comments off

SDC Blog Military Mail Discount1Here’s something to keep in mind as we approach the busy holiday season—did you know you can receive a $2 discount off the flat rate of a Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box? As a Stamps.com customer you already receive the discounted Commercial Base rate of $16.35 for the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (it costs $16.75 at the Post Office) if you use a barcoded shipping label. You can get an even deeper discount when shipping to military (APO/FPO/DPO) addresses! This discount can be activated whether you’re sending mail to a military post, a U.S. Navy vessel, or a U.S. embassy.  

How does it work?
In the Stamps.com software, enter an APO address in the domestic packages section.  If it’s a valid APO/FPO/DPO address, this will automatically activate the Priority Mail Military Large Flat Rate Box discount and you’ll see the price drop to $14.35!

Selecting the right label
Please note: you only have the ability to receive the discount on barcoded shipping labels. This means that you should use printing supplies in the Packages section like the Standard 4 x 6 Plain Paper option, the SDC-1200 label, a Generic 4 x 6 Shipping Label, or the Narrow 2 x 7 ½ Shipping Label.

The APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Box  
If you’re sending mail at this discounted rate, you can use the specialized Priority Mail APO/FPO Large Flat Rate Box, which features an “America Supports You” logo and APO/FPO addressing block, can be ordered for free from the Stamps.com Online Store.

Additional resources
If you are shipping to military addresses during the holidays, you’ll want to take a look at these USPS shipping cutoffs. Need some tips on how to format an APO/FPO/DPO address? You can also download our FREE USPS Military Mail Guide for more helpful pointers. This guide provides step-by-step details on how to ship a package to a military address.

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.