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Stamps.com Blog

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Keeping Your Home Office Organized

January 6th, 2017 Comments off

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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:

6 Proven Methods to Grow Your Business

December 30th, 2016 Comments off

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Are you ready to expand your ecommerce business? Stay a step ahead of your company’s growth by planning and preparing for new opportunities with these six ideas.

Attract new customers

Look into implementing a referral program both to leverage existing customers and draw in their own contacts to your site, and use social media to create new buzz on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram by promoting specials and giveaways.

 Encourage larger orders

By being more aggressive with upsells, cross-product selling and volume promotions, you can increase your sales one customer at a time.

Bump up your content.

Review your copy and add new SEO keywords, meta tags and powerful new language to your product descriptions. Add compelling photography and video to enhance your listings.

 Increase prices

Increasing some prices by a small percentage or charging for shipping if you currently ship for free are simple ways to drive up your profits. Just be sure not to make your increases so large or noticeable that buyers start clicking away from your site.

 But also discount some prices, when it makes sense

Avoid deep discounts, which can be a sign of desperation to shoppers, but create attractive, short-term promotions offering popular products at a lower price. Bargain hunters will feel the thrill of the hunt and may share their finds in their networks, bringing you more business.

 Diversify

If you’re successful in one channel, imagine how much more you can do across multiple channels. Add to your product line, make yourself available as an expert in your field or product line, and consider importing and exporting your own and other ecommerce business owners’ products.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

6 Crowdfunding Tips For Your Ecommerce Endeavors

December 23rd, 2016 Comments off

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Looking for capital? These days, finding a cash outlay for your business endeavors can be as simple as setting up a crowdfunding website. Popular sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have changed the way businesses seek investors, making it easier than ever for companies and contributors to connect. Better yet, crowdfunding eliminates some of typical conditions investors often impose in return for their support, such as a stake in the company or creative control.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform that allows users in the U.S., U.K. and Canada to publicly post creative projects, including specs, prototypes, potential risks and progress updates, to grab the attention of investors. Be aware the Kickstarter requires users to set a monetary goal and deadline, and if the full amount of requested funds isn’t pledged by that date, the company does not receive anything (and any pledged money is returned to the donors). Indiegogo, meanwhile, is broader in scope, with a longer list of eligible projects and an international user base. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo apply a percentage-based fee to the total funds collected, and Indiegogo’s fee increases if the fundraising goal isn’t met. While Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the best-known crowdfunding sites, businesses may also consider a variety of other similar services, such as 33needs, Rockethub, appbackr and ChipIn.

Ready to crowdfund? Keep these tips in mind.

  • Have a great product or idea to pitch. With thousands of crowdfunding campaigns ongoing at any one time, your business or product idea needs to stand out. Scroll through crowdfunding sites to be sure you aren’t duplicating an existing campaign.
  • Set realistic goals. Remember, you’re trying to get your business or product off the ground. Don’t ask for more than you need to cover your costs at this stage of the game.
  • Plan the perfect campaign. Think about the kind of customers and inventors who would comprise your target audience. Are they social-media savvy? Do they like a straightforward approach or a pitch with an edge? Can you reach out to popular bloggers to help promote your campaign? Consider these points as you write your copy and add additional media, such as photography and video.
  • Be open about your goals. Investors need to know that the business they’re contributing to stays true to your proposal. Reassure interested parties and investors with regular updates during the crowdfunding process, and welcome their feedback. If your business gets successfully funded, it’s even more important to continue the conversation and let your investors know how you’re using their money and what they can expect in the future.
  • Consider rewards. Crowdfunding businesses may choose to reward investors at certain levels with public acknowledgement, products and other incentives, which may help encourage participation. However, many incentives ultimately cost in you time, money or both, so carefully weigh whether rewards are a financially responsible option for your campaign and your business.
  • Watch the clock. If your crowdfunding campaign has a hard deadline, you’ll want to space out content over the life of the campaign. Still, the first 48 hours can be the most crucial. Plus, if you manage to raise the needed funds early on, your campaign may catch the attention of mainstream media, which can bring you needed publicity.
Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

What you need to know about mailing plants

December 16th, 2016 Comments off

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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!

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