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Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

USPS Implementing New Automated Package Verification System

July 18th, 2017 Comments off

Update: This article has been edited to reflect the new launch date of August 15 for the Automated Package Verification program.

 

The USPS is implementing a new system that will change how shortpaid or overpaid mail is charged and handled. Previously, shortpaid pieces used to go through a cumbersome process by which they’d be returned to the sender, treated as dead mail if they had no return address, or delivered to the addressee with a postage due notice.

New Automation Package Verification System to Start August 15

Automation will be changing all of that. Now, postage discrepancies will be detected by a new USPS program called Automated Package Verification (APV). APV will ensure that mail processed through USPS sorting facilities will be fully verified and checked for any errors.  Your mailpiece’s weight, dimensions, package type, and entry ZIP code will all be reviewed by this new state-of-the-art system.

Benefits of APV for Stamps.com Customers

There are a number of benefits to being a Stamps.com customer, such as not having to wait in line at the Post Office, access to useful features such as Hidden Postage, and the ability to send shipment notification emails. The new APV program will align with the efficient processes you already enjoy with our PC Postage product.

Make this new streamlined process work for you. If you’re one of the many Stamps.com customers who sell online, you won’t have to worry about having your customers pay postage due and suffer the embarrassment of poor ecommerce reviews and delayed deliveries. Postage adjustments will be made to your Stamps.com postage balance automatically, ensuring a smoother delivery process for you and your recipients, and a better overall customer experience. If you have overpaid a shipment, you may receive a credit to your postage balance to make up for the extra amount.

Shipping Tips to Avoid Postage Adjustments

Prior to the full USPS release of the APV program, Stamps.com may send courtesy notices to provide examples of your mailpieces that have been detected by the USPS as being shortpaid. These notices offer a great opportunity to make any corrections going forward before APV is fully rolled out!

  • Remember that Large Envelopes/Flats must always be bendable and have an even surface with no protuberances (flaps) or content shifting. A Large Envelope/Flat must have:
  1. Height: a minimum height of 6-1/8″ and a maximum height of 12″
  2.  Length: a minimum length of 11-1/2″ and a maximum length of 15″
  3. Thickness: a minimum thickness is ¼” and the maximum thickness is ¾”.
  • Remember to attach Priority Mail Flat Rate postage only to the appropriate Flat Rate packaging (e.g. Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope rates to Flat Rate Priority Envelopes). Flat Rate packaging is not interchangeable. A Medium Flat Rate Box should not be used with Large Flat Rate postage. Also, do not affix non-Flat Rate Postage to Flat Rate packaging. For further tips, please see: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/04/28/priority-mail-flat-rate-best-practices/
  • Take the guesswork out of package weights. The Stamps.com Online Store offers a variety of digital scales that meet various mailing and shipping needs.
  • Remember that fractional ounces are always rounded up to the next ounce. For example, if your mailpiece’s weight is 3.2 ounces, enter the weight as 4 ounces in the Stamps.com software.
  • If you’re sending non-Flat Rate mail, you will be asked to enter dimensions for your packages for certain Priority Mail zones. Make sure to measure your mailpiece accurately. For further tips, please see: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/03/30/how-to-measure-irregularly-shaped-items/

 

Categories: USPS News Tags:

Tips to Keep Your Customer Direct Mail Database Clean

July 7th, 2017 Comments off

Finding out your direct mail advertising items are coming back as undeliverable can be quite a frustrating discovery. You’ve lost money, time and potential customers on each piece that comes back to you. So, what can you do about it? By keeping your customer database current, you can make sure your direct mail is getting to its intended recipients in a timely manner and minimize the number of returned mail because of misspellings and bad data.

Tip #1 – Create One Central Database

It’s possible you’re getting your lists from different sources, so if you haven’t done so already, combine any information you might have for customers and prospects. This will make it much easier when you start planning future mail marketing campaigns.

Tip #2—Designate a Database Manager

You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen. Pick one or two people on the team to maintain and update your database in order to minimize the potential for error that may arise when too many people have the ability to access and edit your list.

 

Tip #3—Make Sure Your Addresses Are Clean

You’ll want to run your address list through Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) approved software in order to compare the addresses you have with the USPS database in order to find errors and inconsistencies such as typos, incorrect ZIP codes or non-standard state abbreviations. This address cleansing and verification process helps you to make sure addresses in your database match the preferred USPS specifications, and offers suggested changes for each potential error.

Tip #4—Watch Your Mailbox

If and when you do receive undeliverable mail, you’ll want to look into why your mailpiece didn’t get to its intended recipient and update your database accordingly.

Updating addresses with Stamps.com

You can use Stamps.com to keep your address list current! Stamps.com is a CASS-certified solution and regularly syncs with the USPS Address Matching Service Database, which verifies valid U.S. mailing addresses. If you want to meticulously review questionable addresses, the Automatic Matching System pop-up alerts may come in handy. If you’d prefer to update without review, you can easily turn off the pop-ups.

Categories: Letter Mailing Tags:

Zip Codes Available for Sunday and Holiday Delivery with Priority Mail Express

June 23rd, 2017 Comments off

If you need to get a package delivered quickly, you can’t beat Priority Mail Express. With overnight delivery to most locations in the U.S. and second-day delivery in outlying areas, this is the fastest USPS domestic shipping service available. The service also includes some great features such as free parcel insurance up to $100 in value, delivery signature confirmation and even a money-back guarantee if your package is not delivered on time.

Sunday and holiday delivery ($12.50 additional fee is required) is also available in many major markets—more than 12,000 ZIP codes across the country! The following list includes every ZIP code where Priority Mail Express Sunday and holiday service is available.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

How to Ship Cremated Remains

June 16th, 2017 Comments off

There may be different reasons why you would need to ship cremated remains: you’re a relative entrusted with transporting or distributing the remains of a loved one; you need to ensure that a pet cremation urn is safely sent back home; or you’re in the death care business and your funeral home needs to transport cremated remains frequently. Whatever the reason may be, Stamps.com can help you make the process as painless as possible.

The first thing to know is that you can only use the USPS to ship cremated remains. Courier services like FedEx and UPS do not allow this. Therefore, you can use your powerful Stamps.com platform to ship cremated remains.

Preparing your package

The USPS allows for shipping cremated remains by Priority Mail Express service only.  Keep in mind that there are packaging requirements—USPS requires that the inner container be stable, shock-proof, and sift-proof (i.e. sealed against leakage during transit). Since the USPS requires full return and delivery addresses be included on the outside of the package, we recommend using the Stamps.com Shipping Label feature to meet this guideline and also receive free tracking. 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 (SDC-1200).

Identifying your package

Remember also to declare the Special Contents when you print your Shipping Label. After selecting the Priority Mail Express mail class and entering all of the appropriate criteria (addresses, weight, etc.), click on the “Select” button next to “Add’l Options.” Click on “Special Contents” and select “Cremated Remains.”

For peace of mind and to ensure respectful handling, we also highly recommend using the additional marking provided by Label 139, a postal label indicating “Cremated Remains,” which can be ordered for free here: https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=P_LABEL139

International Mailing

For international mail, you may only use Priority Mail Express International to ship cremated remains.  Cremated remains must also be shipped in a funeral urn. Remember to double-check whether the country to which you are mailing allows this type of shipment. Some countries, such as Belgium, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Portugal and the United Kingdom do not allow entry of cremated remains. Some countries also do not support Priority Mail Express International. We recommend researching this prior to mailing by accessing the Individual Country Listings here: https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/immctry.htm

Remember to fully and clearly identify the contents on your customs form. Stamps.com makes the process easy and efficient by combining postage and the Customs Declaration Forms into the same documentation/international shipping label. In the Customs Information window, under “Type of Contents,” select “Other” and type in a detailed description under “More Info.” In the itemized package content details, please also enter a detailed description to remain compliant with USPS guidelines.

Since you are using Priority Mail Express, you can schedule a free pickup to avoid going to the Post Office.  Learn how to schedule a pickup here: http://blog.stamps.com/2017/04/21/usps-package-pickups-and-drop-offs/

Categories: Shipping Tags:

What is Air Mail?

June 9th, 2017 Comments off

Sometimes your boxes and shipments will soar 39,000 feet in the air. From the time the USPS first experimented with mail flight in 1911 to the present day, letters and parcels have been carried through the air to ensure speedy delivery for your recipients. What constitutes “air mail”? What scenarios cause the USPS to send something by air instead of by surface transportation?

Generally, Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express and First-Class Mail pieces will be shipped by air.  However, these mail classes may also be shipped by ground depending on the originating and destination points—for example, if a destination is within driving distance. Postal trucks on the highway generally transport pieces that have to be shipped 500 miles away or less. For longer distances, your mail may be transported by freight railroad.

Sometimes your mailpiece may travel by a combination of air and ground. The USPS will always strive to get a mailpiece to your recipients by the fastest way possible. Parcel Select and Media Mail, which receive special discounted rates, will generally ship by surface transportation.

How does the USPS ship mailpieces by air? Rather than maintaining an expensive fleet of postal planes, your mail will generally “hitch a ride” on the airplane of a private carrier. The USPS negotiates contracts with commercial carriers to transport its mail, something it began to do in 1925. Airlines such as United Airlines and TWA (which became part of American Airlines in 2001) actually began as transporters of air mail. USPS mail is carried on both passenger and cargo planes. FedEx also provides air transportation for USPS domestic First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail, as well as some international mail.

Shipping with Stamps.com

It’s always important to remain compliant with current USPS statutes and regulations. Remember that certain hazardous items (such as aerosol cans, spray paint, rubbing alcohol or paint) cannot be shipped by air. For international mail, always fully and clearly identify the contents on your customs form. Items will also need to meet USPS packaging and marking requirements. Please also keep in mind that an individual pilot may decide to refuse mailpieces that present a potential danger to the aircraft. Refused pieces may also include unidentifiable items or shipments of live animals whose safety is threatened by temperature conditions in the air.

A detailed guide on shipping via USPS air transportation can be found here: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c7_001.htm

You can combine the speed of a jumbo jet with the convenience of requesting a free USPS pickup by using the powerful Stamps.com platform! 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.  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: Shipping Tags:

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