Ecommerce Trends to Watch

July 20th, 2018 Comments off

Ecommerce is experiencing a new wave of innovation. While buying products online is now commonplace, the technology supporting e-commerce is evolving to eliminate any remaining friction in the purchase process. This article will examine some of the most exciting developments in e-commerce and how they are changing the retail experience.

  1. Mobile-First Shopping Takes Hold

The first era of e-commerce took place using desktop computers. The next will take place in the palm of your hand. At the end of 2017 two-thirds of e-commerce transactions were completed on a mobile device. Retailers are responding by partnering with social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to drive sales. Consumers can now enjoy the entire retail experience on a smartphone and innovations such as fingerprint authentication remove even more friction from the purchase process.

  1. The Growing Prevalence of Voice Search

Another innovation that is removing friction from retail is the growth of voice search. Voice search using Alexa, Google Home, or other smart devices allows consumers to make a purchase verbally, sometimes without even seeing the product. Purchases through Amazon or Google can be authenticated using a credit card and shipping address on file. Voice search adds greater convenience for consumers and new challenges for retailers. As one business school professor noted, voice search using Amazon’s Alexa favors the company’s own brands at the expense of competitors. Brands depend on visual marketing to communicate with consumers and as voice search takes off will need to completely rethink their marketing efforts.

  1. Customers Expect Faster Shipping Times

It used to be that goods were shipped in a week and the customer was entirely satisfied. Amazon changed the game when it gave Prime members free expedited shipping. Now ecommerce sellers are racing to offer faster and faster delivery. Ecommerce sellers can simply go to Stamps.com to print shipping labels with the fastest delivery times USPS has available. Online shoppers have become accustomed to quick shipping and easy returns and retailers that refuse to play will lose sales competitors.

In a few years’ time, shoppers will expect to be able to order a product out loud and have it delivered quickly, safely and securely. The next wave of e-commerce eliminates many of the common frictions and pain points in making a purchase. Companies that do not embrace this trend will be left b

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USPS International Weight Limits

May 31st, 2018 Comments off

Did you know that USPS weight limits vary by mail class and destination country? Check out the table below to determine how much your international package or letter can weigh:

 

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Shipping to Mexico with USPS

April 24th, 2018 Comments off

Did you know that 48% of all Mexican imports come from the United States? And with an expected 84.9 million Internet users in Mexico by 2019, it couldn’t be a better time for e-commerce sellers to open their markets to online buyers south of the border.

Here are the basics on shipping your products to Mexico vis USPS.

Available USPS Mail Classes to Mexico

  • Priority Mail Express International. For date-specific delivery and a money-back guarantee, you’ll also appreciate 3- to 5-day delivery on packages up to 70 pounds.
  • Priority Mail International. With similar features to Priority Mail Express International (above), Priority Mail International delivers within 6 to 10 days.
  • First Class Package International Service. If you’re shipping small, inexpensive items to Mexico, First Class Package International Service is the economical choice for packages up to 4 pounds, with 7- to 10-day delivery.
  • Stamps.com International Flats Service. Stamps.com offers customers a special rate on shipping merchandise in Flats/Large Envelopes — up to 65% off international package rates.

Important Restrictions to Note

As with all international shipping, it’s vital to understand prohibitions and restrictions to Mexico.

Prohibited and restricted items include:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Electronic Cigarettes
  • Weapons
  • Furs
  • Precious Metal
  • Plants
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco

Lastly, here’s some sweet advice for U.S. shippers – as Mexico is the birthplace of chocolate, understandably the country takes that product seriously. If you sell chocolate or products made of chocolate, you must obtain prior authorization for these items from the Mexican Secretary of Commerce.

Printing International Postage for Mexico via Stamps.com

It’s simple to ship to Mexico with Stamps.com! Here’s a rundown on the benefits you receive when you take advantage of Stamps.com’s services.

  • Discounts on international shipping rates. Save up to 5%!
  • Directly fill out Customs Forms. Save time – the Stamps.com interface automatically inserts your e-commerce order data into the Customs Form.
  • Insurance savings. When you use Stamps.com, enjoy savings of up to 40% on international insurance.

The Bottom Line

Our South of the Border neighbors represent a tremendous opportunity for e-commerce sellers. With several cost-effective shipping options to Mexico, plus extra benefits to Stamps.com users, you could soon be enjoying a fiesta of new business and simple solutions.

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USPS Rules for Mailing Knives

April 13th, 2018 Comments off

Whether you need a good chef’s knife to carve up large cuts of beef, or a paring knife to core a tomato, knives come in handy for a variety of uses. They represent an important consumer product, but can you mail knives and other sharp instruments through the USPS? The short answer is that it depends on the type of knife.

Switchblade knives

Switchblade knives are severely restricted with the USPS. They are defined by the USPS as knives having “a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button or other device in the handle, or by operation of inertia, gravity, or both.” Only supply and procurement officers are allowed to purchase and mail switchblade knives. If you’re a dealer or manufacturer of switchblade knives, you would still only be able to mail switchblade knives to procurement officers representing civic, county, state and federal governments. Mailpieces with switchblade knives should not be identified as such on the outside of the parcel.

Pocket and kitchen knives 

What if you’re sending a pocket knife to a manufacturer for repair? Or mailing a sushi knife to a friend? These knives are mailable. However, keep in mind that mailable knives must be cushioned and secured within the packaging. This would prevent any sharp edges from poking through the packaging. Make sure that there is no content shifting. Inner packaging is recommended, and if possible, sheathing the blade in question. Use plenty of cushioning material. This also goes for sharp-edged implements like ice picks, hatchets, stilettos and saws.

The best rule to go by when mailing knives and sharp instruments is to avoid mailing hazardous items that could cause injury to postal workers: loose knives; badly packaged, sharp objects; and automatic, ballistic, and auto-open blades.

International mail 

When mailing internationally, keep in mind that some countries, such as Denmark, Uganda, Japan and the United Kingdom, explicitly prohibit certain types of knives.  Learn more about USPS international listings.

As always, stay sharp and keep informed! For more information on domestic USPS regulations regarding mailing knives, please see:

https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c4_013.htm

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Shipping to Military Bases – Military Mail FAQ

April 2nd, 2018 Comments off

Care packages and letters are some of the best ways to send your loved ones a slice of home when they are deployed abroad. At Stamps.com we often receive questions from customers looking to send packages to military destination so we compiled a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions about Military Mail:

How do I format a military address?

Like a domestic address, a military address lets postal clerks know where to send your mail piece, so the address must follow a specific format. This special address must include:

  1. The full name of the addressee. Mail sent without a full name will not be delivered
  2. The unit or Post Office box number
  3. A three letter code associated with the type of location. APO is used for Army and Air Force installations. FPO is used for ships and Navy installations. DPO is associated with U.S. embassies overseas.
  4. The “state” of the addressee. Rather than an actual state or province in a foreign country, the “state” for a military address should be:
  • AA for Armed Forces Americas
  • AE for Armed Forces Europe, Armed Forces Middle East and Armed Forces Africa
  • AP for Armed Forces Pacific
  1. The 5-digit zip code for the military unit. All military zip codes will start with a 0 or 9.

Example:

CPT John Doe

Unit 45013 Box 2666

USAG J

APO AP 96338

 

What is my best option for shipping to a military base?

Due to security restrictions, the USPS is the only carrier that can deliver mail and packages to APO/FPO/DPO locations. While carriers such as FedEx and UPS offer delivery to countries where military personnel may be stationed, packages from these private carriers cannot be delivered directly to a military base.

Should I include a country in the military address?

No! One of the most common mistakes when sending military mail is including a country in the address. Typically, including a country in the address will result in a delayed or rejected mailing.

Is Military Mail considered international mail?

No. In 1959 the Department of Defense and the Post Office Department agreed that the USPS would be required to provide continual mail service to military personnel and their families worldwide. Because of this agreement military addresses (APO/FPO/DPO) are not considered international addresses by the USPS, even though they may reside in foreign countries.

How much does it cost to send a letter to APO/FPO/DPO addresses?

When sending a letter to military addresses, you are only required to provide domestic postage. The current cost to send a domestic First Class Mail letter is $0.50 at the Post Office or $0.47 for Stamps.com customers.

How is Military Mail processed?

Letters and packages addressed to military personnel are first sent to Miami, New York City or San Francisco before being shipped to their international destinations. Once the letter or package arrives in its destination country, it is handed over to a Military Postal Service representative who transports it to the Military Post Office, from where it is distributed to the service member’s unit for delivery to the recipient.

Do I need to fill out a customs form when shipping to a U.S. military base abroad?

Since the recipient country may have restrictions on what can be imported, mailpieces addressed to a military destination must include a properly completed PS Form 2976 or PS Form 2976-A.

What is the estimated delivery time for Military Mail?

The transit time for sending mail and packages to military addresses varies by destination and mail class. See the table below for delivery time estimates:

Can I ship electronics to military destinations?

Many electronics are prohibited from being shipped to military destinations. A good rule of thumb is anything that sends a radio, satellite or phone signal is prohibited for being shipped to military bases. Prohibited items include mobile phones, cordless phones, GPS hardware and software, and FM transmitters.

 

How should I package shipments to Military destinations?

Be sure to package shipments securely enough to withstand up to six weeks of transit. Consider the destination of the package and extreme temperatures or conditions the packages may need to endure. If your package contains fragile contents add adequate cushion.   If any portion of the box looks like it is sagging or can be easily depressed, add packing material on the inside.

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