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Stamps.com Blog

Get the latest information on the mailing and shipping industry.

Introducing Rate Advisor: Compare Shipping Rates Across Carriers

October 25th, 2021 Comments off

Rate Advisor is a new tool built into Stamps.com that helps you find the lowest shipping rate for every package you ship. The feature lets you instantly compare shipping rates and delivery times across different carriers using all of your relevant package information such as destination address, package weight and box size.

Instantly compare rates and delivery times across different carriers and services.

  • Filter by carrier, delivery speed, price and more
  • Simply select the best option and print your label
  • Never overpay for shipping again
  • Includes all of our amazing discounted rates from USPS and UPS
  • Built right into Stamps.com, nothing to download
  • Super easy to use

How to Use Rate Advisor from the MAIL tab:

#1 In the MAIL Tab, prepare a shipment. Enter the Name and Ship to Address, Weight, and Dimensions, just as you would for any shipment. Then, open the Service or Carrier drop down menu and Click “Compare Services and Rates…”

#2 Rate Advisor will open in a new window. The shipment information (destination city, weight and box size) you entered is displayed at the top of the window. The Shipping Options and Carriers you have enabled are displayed, with the lowest price at the top.

Rate Advisor offers 3 different ways to display Shipping Options:

  • Recommended: our default setting for the most compatible shipping options
  • Cheapest: the lowest cost but the package may take longer to arrive
  • Fastest: the most expensive option but gets your package to the destination the quickest. Great for Expedited Shipping.

#3 Select your shipping choice (between Recommended, Cheapest or Fastest) at the top of Rate Advisor window. A new window will appear to confirm your shipping service choice and carrier. Select “Yes” or “No.”

#4 After confirmation, your selected Carrier and Service are automatically displayed in your ship order and you are ready to print your shipping label.

How to use Rate Advisor from the ORDERS tab:

#1 In ORDERS, prepare a Manual Order. Enter the Name and Ship To Address, Package Weight, and Box Dimensions, just as you would for any shipment. Then, open the Carrier drop down menu and Click “Compare Services and Rates…”

#2 Rate Advisor will open in a new window. The shipment information (destination city, weight and box size) you entered is displayed at the top of the window. The Shipping Options with Carriers you have enabled and Services are displayed, with the lowest price at the top.

Similar to the MAIL tab, RATE ADVISOR offers 3 different ways to display Shipping Options:

  • Recommended: our default setting for the most compatible options.
  • Cheapest: the lowest cost but the package may take longer to arrive.
  • Fastest: the most expensive option but gets your package to the destination the quickest. Great for Expedited Shipping.

#3 Select your shipping choice (between Recommended, Cheapest or Fastest) at the top of Rate Advisor window. A new window will appear to confirm your shipping service choice and carrier. Select “Yes” or “No.”

#4 After confirmation, your selected Carrier and Service are automatically displayed in your ship order and you are ready to print your shipping label.

Start using Rate Advisor today to find the lowest shipping rate to meet your delivery requirements!

Free USPS Priority Mail Boxes To Become Smaller

October 15th, 2021 Comments off

The USPS has announced they will be reducing the size of some free Priority Mail boxes and envelopes. Two Priority Mail envelopes and six Priority Mail boxes will be getting smaller, with the reductions ranging from 1/8″ smaller in length on the Priority Mail Tyvek envelope to 2 1/2″ smaller in width on the Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B.

The USPS states these changes are being made to help process Priority Mail boxes and envelopes more efficiently on their sorting equipment, reducing the need for manual package sortation.

Priority Mail Box Size Changes

ItemServiceUSPS Store SKUOLD Outside DimensionsNEW Outside DimensionsSummary of Change
EnvelopePriority Mail Tyvek EnvelopeEP1411-5/8” (W) x 15-1/8” (L)  11-5/8” (W) x 15” (L)  Length of envelope is getting smaller by 1/8"
EnvelopePriority Mail APO/FPO Tyvek Envelope (Mili-Pac)MILIPAC11-5/8” (W) x 15-1/8” (L)  11-5/8” (W) x 15” (L)  Length of envelope is getting smaller by 1/8"
BoxPriority Mail Large Flat Rate BoxLFRB6” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)  6” (H) x 12” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail APO/FPO Large Flat Rate BoxMILIFRB6” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L) 6” (H) x 12” (W) x 12-1/4” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail0-1092 Box 2-7/8” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 13-11/16” (L)2-7/8” (H) x 12” (W) x 13-11/16” (L)Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller
BoxPriority Mail0-1095 Box3-1/8” (H) x 12-1/2” (W) x 15-5/8” (L)3-1/8” (H) x 12’ (W) x 15” (L)Width of box is getting 1/2" smaller, length getting 5/8" smaler
BoxPriority Mail Regional Rate Box BRRB-B23” (H) x 14-1/2” (W) x 16-1/4” (L)3” (H) x 12” (W) x 15” (L)Width of box is getting 2 1/2" smaller, length is getting 1 1/4" smaler
BoxPriority MailBox 78-1/2” (H) x 12-1/4” (W) x 12-1/4” (L) 8-1/2” (H) x 12” (W) x12-1/4” (L) Width of box is getting 1/4" smaller

Online retailers who have extra stock of the older box sizes will still be able to use the USPS free shipping supplies until their boxes and envelopes are exhausted. The new box sizes started shipping from the USPS.com site in late September 2021.

Categories: USPS News Tags:

How to Input VAT/IOSS Numbers Into Customs Forms

October 1st, 2021 Comments off

Starting July 1, 2021, all commercial goods destined for the European Union (EU) are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT). This applies to deliveries of any value, including those below 22 euros (estimated $26).  To help online retailers manage this tax collecting process, the EU member countries created the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS), an electronic portal for online retailers to comply with the new VAT rules.  After registering for an IOSS  account, you will receive an IOSS tax identification number which should be inputted on all Customs Forms for your packages.

First 90 Days – How is the IOSS Working?
Stamps.com Customer Care has been monitoring the deliveries to the EU very closely since July 1, 2021.  Overall, most packages have included the new IOSS information and packages are being delivered.   We have discovered some shippers are inputting VAT/IOSS information incorrectly in the Stamps.com software interface, which is creating unnecessary duty and tax bills for shipments. 

Customer Care has also noticed many shippers are NOT inputting IOSS numbers on low value orders, which is now required.  This action pushes the responsibility of delivery fees, duties and taxes to the package recipient.  If the recipient does not want to pay these extra charges, the package will be returned to sender.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR INPUTTING VAT/IOSS NUMBERS INTO CUSTOMS FORMS USING STAMPS.COM

Stamps.com Software

1) From the “International” tab, input the delivery address and package details.
2) In the “Customs” section, please click on the “Edit Form”.
3) Input your IOSS tax identification number in the designated field.  Finish by clicking “Add Item” (on far right side) and then “OK”

Stamps.com Website

#1 Input the international delivery address and select the carrier info for the label.
#2 In the “Contents” section, click on “Customs Form” button.
#3 Input your IOSS tax identification number in the designated field. Finish inputting the item description and click “Add item”.

Important information to remember:

  • For orders being delivered to the United Kingdom, “IOSS #” field will be labeled “VAT #” in the Customs Form.
  • If you are selling through a marketplace, such as eBay or Amazon, be sure to include that marketplace’s IOSS number in the Customs Form. If you do not, the receiving EU country will assume VAT has not been collected.

Learn more about the European VAT requirements that started July 1, 2021.

How to Build an Effective Ecommerce Checkout Flow for Your Business

September 24th, 2021 Comments off

Online sales are skyrocketing. In the first quarter of 2021, ecommerce sales increased by 39.1% from the same period in 2020. If you run an ecommerce business, there is a vast market where you can get significant revenue.

However, while your small business website has high traffic and your customers fill their carts with products, your sales might still be lower than expected. The reason? High cart and checkout abandonment rates.

This guide will explain how you can optimize your ecommerce checkout flow to guide customers from filling their cart to completing a purchase. You will learn what a typical checkout flow looks like, the difference between cart and checkout abandonment, and discover seven ways to improve your website’s checkout flow.

What is a typical checkout flow?

The ecommerce checkout flow consists of the steps your customers take to browse for products and make a purchase. The checkout flow transforms website visitors into buyers. It typically has seven steps:

typical cart checkout flow

The ecommerce business checkout flow serves two main purposes:

  1. Allow customers to pay for products
  2. Gather information about the customer, such as their name and email address.

You’ll need customer information for future promotions. Gathering customer data also allows you to make future purchases more convenient for the customer.

Checkout abandonment vs. cart abandonment: what’s the difference?

We’ve outlined the typical checkout flow, but where do customers abandon their cart or abandon the checkout in this process? And what is the difference between checkout abandonment and cart abandonment?

The difference between checkout abandonment and cart abandonment lies in when the user abandons the purchase.

understanding checkout abandonment

Image Created By Writer

Cart abandonment occurs when a customer adds products to their cart and leaves the site without proceeding to payment. According to Statista, customers abandoned an average of 88.05% of online carts in 2020. The typical reasons for cart abandonment include a lack of genuine interest in products or unstable websites.

In contrast, checkout abandonment occurs after the customer enters their payment details and before making the payment. Customers abandon the checkout process because of high shipping costs or additional fees, complicated processes, or forced account creation.

Luckily, whether you’re already running an online shop or plan on starting an online business, there are many ways you can optimize your checkout flow to reduce rates of cart and checkout abandonment and boost your sales.

7 ways to make your checkout flow more efficient

The first part of this guide sets the context. Now we get to the meaty part of the guide. What follows are seven strategies you can implement to make your checkout flow more efficient.

#1 Be upfront about extra costs

Extra costs at checkout, such as shipping, tax, and fees, is the top reason for checkout abandonment. There is nothing worse than being shocked by extra costs when they try to check out a purchase for customers.

top customer reasons for cart abandonment

Source: Baymard

Removing additional fees at the time of checkout doesn’t mean you need to shoulder the costs of shipping and taxes. However, you need to be transparent about costs before the checkout process begins. When customers view their cart, your site should display all the added fees, so there are no surprises at the end of the process.

Providing a way for customers to control these costs will help keep cart abandonment rates low. You could offer multiple shipping options such as USPS Priority Mail, increase your listed product prices upfront to account for shipping and handling, or waive shipping costs for orders over a certain amount.

#2 Optimize loading speed

If you want to buy a product, but the website keeps crashing or won’t load, there’s a good chance you won’t go ahead with the purchase. In addition, poor website performance can also damage your visitors’ trust in your business.

Many factors could affect your website’s loading speed. These include:

  • A poor web hosting provider
  • Third-party ads
  • Widgets and plugins
  • Large image and video files

The checkout flow has many steps and different pages, so all the pages in the checkout process should load quickly. You can use Google Pagespeed Insights or other free services to check your website’s load speed.

If your pages consistently take too long to load, it might be time to find the reason. If widgets, ads, or large images and video files slow your website speed, you may need to remove these. Otherwise, it might be time to upgrade your hosting or ecommerce platform provider.

#3 Don’t force your customers into creating an account

Many ecommerce businesses encourage users to create an account as it can facilitate repeat purchases and lets the retailer send marketing emails to the user. However, some customers would rather abandon their cart or checkout process than provide their email address as they feel it’s an unnecessary step.

example of cart checkout as guest

Source: UXdesign.cc

Giving your customers the option to check out as a guest will help improve conversion rates. You may also use an API to allow customers to register using their social media or Google account.

#4 Make the purchase sequence as simple as possible

A complicated and confusing checkout flow can be a killer for your conversion rates. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can streamline the purchase sequence to make checking out easy and fast for your customers. These include:

  • Offer multiple payment options: Letting your customers pay with a digital wallet such as Apple Pay, PayPal, or Klarna will make checking out more convenient.
  • Create a mobile app: More and more ecommerce businesses have dedicated mobile apps to allow customers to make purchases and access after-sales support.
  • Display cart contents in real-time: When a customer views their cart, they want to see thumbnail images, size and color selection, price and quantity clearly.

By making the purchase sequence clear and easy to follow, you make the overall experience more pleasant for the customer, which helps reduce checkout abandonment.

#5 Add trust badges to your checkout page

When checking out, ensuring that your website appears trustworthy to customers is essential to getting your customers to complete their transactions. After all, they are entering their payment details and are about to give you their hard-earned money. Online shoppers are increasingly wary of websites that could be stealing their data or scamming them.

Trust badges are a great way to show customers that you are a legitimate business. Some trust badges to add to your website include:

  • Money-back and returns guarantee: Adding badges to the checkout pages that remind customers you offer free returns and/or a money-back guarantee is a great way to reassure them while making their purchase.
  • Free shipping: A free shipping badge displayed on your website and at each stage of the checkout flow reassures customers that shipping will be free and they won’t encounter any surprises at checkout.
  • Accepted payments: This badge shows your customers the payment method your site accepts, such as Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, or American Express.
  • Third-party endorsements: Third-party endorsement badges show that your business is credible. The Better Business Bureau Accredited Business and Google Customer Review badges are both trustworthy badges to add to your ecommerce website.

Trust badges are a great way to reassure your customers that your ecommerce business is legitimate, trustworthy, and flexible in terms of payment methods, shipping, and returns.

#6 Send cart and checkout abandonment emails

Even if you’ve made your checkout flow simple and straightforward, a few are still bound to fall through the cracks. Cart and checkout abandonment emails can boost conversion by encouraging customers to complete their purchases.

sending emails for cart abandonment

Source

When customers abandon their cart or checkout, they tend to forget it altogether. However, sending a checkout abandonment email can help your business save abandoned transactions. One report found that 50% of users who clicked on cart abandonment emails pushed through with the purchase, proving that abandonment does not need to be a dead end.

To create that FOMO, you can provide a discount for a limited time. You can use an email countdown timer to add that extra bit of pressure to make them complete a purchase.

#7 Add an auto-save feature to your shopping cart

Sometimes customers need time to decide whether or not to buy a product. If they leave an item in their cart, leave your site, and return to see an empty cart, they probably won’t be inclined towards repeating their browsing experience.

Adding an auto-save feature to your online shopping cart means when customers return to your site, their cart will still have all their chosen products in it. An auto-save feature makes it easy and convenient for customers to continue with their purchases.

Removing additional fees at the time of checkout doesn’t mean you need to shoulder the costs of shipping and taxes. However, you need to be transparent about costs before the checkout process begins. When customers view their cart, your site should display all the added fees, so there are no surprises at the end of the process.

Providing a way for customers to control these costs will help keep cart abandonment rates low. You could offer multiple shipping options such as USPS Priority Mail, increase your listed product prices upfront to account for shipping and handling, or waive shipping costs for orders over a certain amount.

Wrapping Up

When you run an ecommerce business, it’s easy to focus your efforts on driving website traffic and optimizing your website’s appearance and usability. However, you should not forget to build an effective checkout flow to encourage your customers to complete their purchases.

The methods we’ve discussed in this article aim to improve your process flow by removing barriers to smooth checkout and reducing cart and checkout abandonments. While they may seem different, they all seek to make the process simple and convenient for your customers. When you accomplish this goal, you can expect an increase in orders and revenue.

Bio

Jimmy RodriguezJimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade ecommerce solution. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance

Try UPS Next Day Air® for Your Professional Mailing Needs Today!

September 14th, 2021 Comments off

Need it there tomorrow? Enjoy peace of mind and save up to 65% off with UPS Next Day Air® Shipping.

The old saying, ‘time is money’ still holds true in the pandemic. In a time when so much is uncertain, take the guesswork out of your professional shipments. Need to get an important document delivered overnight? Does your business require time-sensitive deliveries? Rest assured with UPS Next Day Air® service that the documents that keep your professional organization running smoothly will arrive there in time.

Don’t miss a deadline with the speed and reliability available to you with UPS Next Day Air® service. Rest easy knowing that your urgent documents will make it there safely, overnight. Whether you work in law, banking, medical, or insurance – every industry experiences time crunches. Alleviate stress, and rely on UPS Next Day Air® delivery to get your items there in time.

UPS Next Day Air® service stands out when compared to competitors. The United States Postal Service does not have a comparable service. The United States Postal Service offers Priority Mail Express® service which has an overnight to 2-Day delivery time. And FedEx Priority Overnight® serves fewer businesses and zip codes than UPS Next Day Air®*. Throughout this pandemic, when everyone has been adjusting to new challenges, UPS has gone above and beyond to get your package where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.

Try UPS Next Day Air® to fulfill your professional shipping needs today!

How to Add UPS Shipping to Your Stamps.com Account
Adding UPS Shipping to your Stamps.com account couldn’t be easier. Go to “Settings” in your Stamps.com account, select “Add a Carrier” and select “UPS.” Once you activate your account, you’ll be ready to ship and take advantage of all the benefits of UPS through Stamps.com.

Categories: UPS Shipping Tags:

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