5 Tips for Shipping Books

May 24th, 2023 Comments off
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Back-to-school shopping for both grade schools and colleges has been on the rise. According to the National Retail Federation, 2022 yielded almost $37 billion for grade shopping and almost $74 billion in college shopping; 4.5% of this amount includes books. 

Although the school year is coming to an end, the time for summer courses and recreational reading is at hand. Not to mention summertime tends to fly by, so it’ll be time for the next school year before you know it. Your customers are reading year-round, so learning how to ship books can boost sales. With the help of our five tips, you’ll be a book shipping expert in no time. 

1. Learn Media Mail guidelines and restrictions 

Media Mail is a service offered through USPS for merchants who ship books and other media-based materials like CDs, DVDs, and test materials. However, like most carrier services, Media Mail comes with its own set of restrictions. Comic books and marketing materials aren’t eligible for the service. Also, Media Mail can only be used for domestic shipments and is subject to inspection. Restrictions aside, Media Mail does include free tracking and can be used for shipments up to 70 pounds with a girth of 108 inches. 

2. Compare shipping costs 

Media Mail can be a great resource, but we recommend comparing rates before making a final decision. If a shipment is on the lighter side, Priority Mail® may prove to be the more affordable option. Stamps.com users can compare shipping rates in real time with Rate Advisor to find the best available service for your shipment. After entering all of the information for your shipment, expand the Service or Carrier drop down menus and select Compare Services and Rates. Then, explore the given carrier service options to find the carrier service that fits your needs. 

3. Use free shipping materials when available

If Priority Mail does prove to be your carrier service of choice, take advantage of the free shipping supplies offered by USPS. These supplies are sent directly to your home or business and can be ordered from your Stamps.com account. If the 7-10 delivery window doesn’t work for your business, most post offices also carry free supplies for customers. Priority Mail shipments can weigh up to 70 pounds, so the boxes and envelopes work perfectly for books, CDs, and other products.

4. Communicate shipping times with customers 

When using services like Media Mail, delivery times might be a bit slower than customers are used to at an estimated 2-8 days. Share delivery windows at checkout to avoid a negative customer experience. Our recent study found 31.5% of customers are less likely to give a store repeat business if their shipment arrives later than communicated, so keep your customers in the loop and provide accurate delivery windows up front. Your customers can look forward to curling up with a good read and be more likely to shop from your business in the future. 

5. Utilize Stamps.com automation rules

Once you’ve found the service and package that works for your business, avoid manually entering information for each new order with Automation Rules. Automation Rules automatically apply carrier information and packaging to shipments within the given criteria. For example, you can create an automation rule where items with a specific SKU assign Priority Mail as the carrier service. Automation rules help get shipments to customers faster for ample study and/or reading time. 

Conclusion

Your customers are looking to your business to provide a new adventure or a helpful resource for class. Compare shipping rates, select a service, create a label, and get ready to send your book on its way. Then, do it all over again with automation rules until your customers have every book in the series. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but Stamps.com does make shipping as easy as it looks. 

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How to Avoid Post-Billing Adjustments

May 18th, 2023 Comments off

Additional shipping costs can be stressful, especially when charged after your package has shipped. Carrier adjustments can add up, but fortunately, you can work to avoid them. Learn where to find adjustments, how carriers calculate these fees, and what you can do to prevent fees

What are carrier adjustments?

Adjustments are extra fees or credits added to your shipping cost after a carrier processes a package. The additional charges are calculated by subtracting the amount of postage paid for a shipment from the shipping costs that should have been paid. For example, you may have paid $10 in shipping costs. However, your shipment reaches USPS, and they find the shipping costs should’ve been $13. Your adjustment charge would then be $3. 

Where to find adjustments

USPS and UPS adjustments can be found in your Stamps.com history. Keep in mind that there’s a delay between when an adjustment is given by a carrier and when the adjustment is shown in your account. To view adjustments, follow the steps below. 

  1. Click on the History tab to view recent shipments. If a shipment was given an adjustment, it will be listed in the Adj. Amount column.  Once you click on the shipment, you’ll see more information on why the adjustment was issued. 
  1. To find these additional details, select the shipment to open the Order Details panel. In the example below, the adjustment was issued because incorrect dimensions were entered when the label was created. 

USPS adjustments 

Some of the most common reasons for adjustments include entering incorrect dimensions and weight as well as using/entering the incorrect packaging. As a reminder, the maximum weight for Priority Mail Flat Rate® Boxes (all sizes) is 70 pounds. Additionally, weight is rounded up. For example, if your shipment weighs 70.2 pounds, it will be rounded up to the nearest pound, making it too heavy for the service. Dimensions for Priority Mail Flat Rate® Boxes will need to be entered when creating your label as well. 

Non-machinable surcharges 

Another type of surcharge given by USPS is a non-machine surcharge. This surcharge is applied to pieces of mail and packages that aren’t able to be automatically sorted through USPS machines. Reasons a non-machinable surcharge might be issued include illegible addresses or non-traditional sizes that require these items to be manually sorted or assessed. 

UPS adjustments 

UPS® shipments can be up to 150 pounds and have a maximum length of 108.” However, if your package is over 50 pounds, it’s subject to UPS Additional Handling fees. UPS Additional Handling charges are extra fees applied to your shipping cost for shipments that need different handling. Some of these include: 

  • Packages with the longest side over 48” or the second-longest side over 30”
  • Domestic shipments over 50 pounds and international shipments over 70 pounds 
  • Packages with a combined length and girth [ (2 x width) + (2 x height) ] of 105” 

Common UPS surcharges 

Three avoidable UPS adjustments are Over Maximum Size surcharges, Large Package surcharges, and Shipping Charge Corrections.

Over Maximum Size surcharges are extra fees applied to your shipments that exceed UPS’s sizes of 150 pounds, 108” long, and have a combined length and girth of 165”. 

Large Package surcharges are extra fees applied to your shipments when: 

  • A domestic package’s length + girth are over 130”, or its length is over 96” 
  • An international package’s length + girth are over 130”
  • Packages with a minimum billable weight of 90 pounds (except for UPS Ground®)

Shipping Charge Corrections are extra fees applied to each shipment with incorrect dimensions and/or weight. These charges are $1 per shipment, along with the additional shipping cost needed for the corrected dimensions and/or weight, and these shipments are also still subject to other surcharges like Additional Handling charges. 

How to dispute adjustments 

The steps for disputing an adjustment will vary by the carrier. It’s also important to note that approval is at the carrier’s discretion. We’ve included the process for disputing adjustments with USPS, UPS, and DHL below. 

Disputing USPS adjustments 

USPS adjustments will be disputed with USPS directly through email by contacting VerifyPostageHelp@usps.gov. Before sending your email, confirm all of the following information is included: 

  • The tracking number associated with your package 
  • The adjustment ID from the Order Details panel 
  • The reason the adjustment is being disputed* 

Note: We recommend adding as many details as possible. 

USPS will follow up via email if they need additional information. Once USPS has reached a decision, they’ll reach out to Stamps.com, and we’ll forward their email response to you. 

Disputing UPS adjustments 

To dispute UPS adjustments, contact our Customer Care team via email or phone at 1-855-860-7867 from Monday – Friday, 6am to 6pm PT. Adjustment disputes need to be made within 180 days of billing. 

Disputing DHL adjustments 

Similar to UPS, you’ll contact our Customer Care team via email or phone for adjustment disputes. Our team can be reached via email or phone at 1-855-860-7867 from Monday – Friday, 6am to 6pm PT. 

Tips to avoid adjustments 

As previously mentioned, incorrect weight, dimensions, and packaging are some of the most common reasons for adjustments. You can decrease the likelihood of adjustments through: 

  • Measuring shipments multiple times for accuracy 
  • Rounding dimensions up to the nearest weight or pound 
  • Confirming your scale calibration is correct before weighing
  • Checking carrier websites for service restrictions and dimensional limits 

Conclusion 

Don’t let shipping adjustments catch you off-guard. Checking all of your measurements multiple times before creating a label will minimize the risk of additional fees. Familiarizing yourself with carrier dimensions will prevent sending shipments through the wrong service. Adjustments can be costly, so understanding how to avoid them is crucial. Keep your shipping budget intact by bookmarking this blog.

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Categories: Shipping, Uncategorized Tags:

How to Find a Lost USPS Letter or Package

July 10th, 2023 Comments off

Shipments can sometimes be lost during transit, including orders to your customers. How do you help customers who are reaching out for assistance? USPS provides resources to try to locate missing mail and packages, and the USPS Mail Recovery Center serves as the hub for lost items. We also have tips to prevent packages from going missing in the first place. If you’re feeling lost about lost packages, you’ve found the right blog. 

Tips to prevent lost packages

  • Confirm the address before sending, especially for communal living spaces 
  • Purchase additional insurance for high-cost items like jewelry or electronics
  • Enable tracking notifications so customers know when their package will arrive
  • Include labels on the inner packaging in case the outer label is damaged or illegible
  • Label your package clearly and legibly and use tape to cover the label to avoid damage

USPS Mail Recovery Center

As we mentioned earlier, the USPS Mail Recovery Center acts as a centralized location for lost mail and packages. All packages and mail are examined upon arrival. If packages or envelopes are deemed valuable (over $25 in merchandise or over $20 in cash), they will be opened by USPS personnel to try to reunite the items with their sender or recipient. Mail with a barcode will be kept for 60 days, and mail without a barcode will be kept for 30 days. After this time frame, items will be donated, thrown away or recycled, or auctioned off.

Steps to search for missing mail 

USPS offers free resources to try to track down missing mail and packages. The first step is to track your package, followed by submitting a couple of different forms. This process is designed to give USPS detailed information about your package to hopefully increase the chance of it being found. 

Track your package 

The first step is to track your package. It might seem straightforward, but checking the tracking details of your shipment might show where/if the package was disrupted in transit. The tracking information will also show delays or if a package is being held at the post office for pickup. We recommend taking screenshots or writing down the tracking information shown because USPS may ask for this information later on. 

Complete the missing mail search form 

If entering the tracking information doesn’t provide answers, fill out a missing mail search form. This form will ask for your shipment’s tracking number, carrier service, and other attributes. Be as specific as possible and answer as many questions as you can. 

Fill out a missing mail search request

After tracking your shipment and completing the missing mail search form, wait seven business days. If your package still hasn’t reached its destination, you’ll fill out a missing mail search request. USPS does require you to create an account to access the form, but account creation is free. The missing mail request will ask questions about the contents of your package as well as the packaging used and any identifying details. USPS also recommends sending pictures of your shipment if possible. 

Additional steps for missing mail 

Once you’ve submitted a missing mail search request, check for a confirmation email from USPS; updates will also be sent via email. Recovered mail will be sent to its destination. However, if a package is deemed unsafe, it won’t be eligible to move forward in transit. It’s also important to note that some packages are unable to be found. 

If your package is unable to be recovered or you used a guaranteed service and/or a service with included insurance, you can: 

Shipping insurance 

Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express® each include $100 of insurance for eligible shipments. This insurance doesn’t come with an additional cost and is a benefit of using the services. If your package is lost or damaged, you can send a claim to USPS for potential reimbursement. To file a claim with USPS, you’ll need to create a free account. Additionally, confirm your claim is being filed within the following timeframes: 

  • Priority Mail Express®: Between 7-60 days*
  • Priority Mail COD: 15-60 days* 
  • Priority Mail®: 15-60 days* 

*Note: Claims should be filed before 60 days. 

Lastly, collect all of the documentation listed by USPS before submitting your claim. This way, you can fill out your claim and help prevent having to resubmit information. If you’re filing a claim for a customer, let them know to keep all of the packaging and information they have until USPS resolves your claim. USPS outlines the documentation needed to file a claim we’ve included below, and additional information can be found on their website.* 

*Note: This information is directly from the USPS website, so we recommend reaching out to USPS with any questions. 

Tracking or Label Number

  • The tracking or label number is found on your online label record, package label, mailing receipt, or sales receipt. Tracking and label numbers are between 13 and 34 characters.

Evidence of Insurance Purchased

  • Any of these items show evidence of insurance:
  • Original mailing receipt issued at the time of mailing
  • Outer packaging showing the names and addresses of the sender and the addressee and the proper label showing that the article was sent insured
  • Printed electronic online label record or computer printout from the application used to print the label and purchase the insurance

NOTE: USPS may not legally pay compensation for uninsured lost or damaged articles. If your uninsured mail is missing or delayed you may request a Missing Mail Search.

Proof of Value

Proof of value is the cost or value of an item when it was mailed. Any of these can be used to show proof of value:

  • Sales receipt
  • Paid invoice or paid bill of sale
  • Statement of value and/or estimates of repair costs from a reputable dealer
  • Credit card billing statement
  • Receipt of costs incurred for reconstruction of non-negotiable documents
  • Printouts of the online transaction identifying the purchaser and seller, price paid, date of transaction, description of item purchased, and assurance that the transaction status is completed

Proof of Damage

Photos that clearly show the extent of damage will help with your case. For damaged claims, you’ll also need to provide an estimate of the repair costs from a reputable dealer.

  • Save the original packaging and everything in the package until your claim is settled.
  • Do not throw out damaged items, even after you photograph them.
  • Do not reship items that were not damaged. Save them with the damaged items.
  • You may be asked to take the entire package to your local Post Office™ facility for inspection.

How to add delivery confirmation in Stamps.com 

Another way to decrease the risk of lost packages is with delivery confirmation. Delivery confirmation comes at no additional cost when using Priority Mail®. This feature provides information about the time, date, and zip code of when the package was signed for. Also, delivery confirmation will show a delivery attempt if your package couldn’t be delivered. 

To add delivery confirmation on Stamps.com Online: 

Select the Tracking drop-down menu under the Mail Tab of your dashboard and click Signature Required. 

To use delivery confirmation with Stamps.com PC Software: 

Once you select the mail class for your package, go to the Packages Tab on your dashboard. For shipments using Priority Mail Express®, click the Delivery Options button and select Signature Required. 

If you’re using another service, select the Tracking drop down menu and then click Signature Confirmation.

Delivery confirmation information is available for up to a year after the delivery date. You can receive a copy of your recipient’s address by calling USPS at 1-800-222-1811 on Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM ET. Signatures can be mailed, faxed, or emailed to you directly. Mail requests are sent through First-Class Mail® and are usually delivered within 2-3 business days. Fax requests are typically completed within two hours and can be received 24/7. 

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How to Ship Water and Other Liquids with the USPS

May 8th, 2023 Comments off
Sending water through USPS and Stamps.com

If you’re thirsty for more knowledge about shipping liquids with USPS, you’ve come to the right place. Shipping liquids requires an understanding of USPS guidelines and restrictions, including which items USPS classifies as liquids. We’ll give you all the basics of shipping and packaging liquids as well as how Stamps.com helps you in the process. 

What are liquids?

Before we get started, let’s define the type of products we’re referring to. Alcohol can’t be shipped with USPS, so we’re only referring to non-alcoholic liquids. Additionally, the following types of liquids can’t be shipped: 

On the flip side, creams and pastes are considered liquids and can be shipped through USPS. You’ll just need to follow the same guidelines as the ones listed above. Liquids, creams, and pastes with push-down tops also need to be mailed using “strong and securely sealed outer packaging.” Push-down tops can potentially open in transit, leading to the damage of other shipments and USPS equipment, so extra precautions need to be taken. 

International liquid shipping restrictions

If you plan to ship liquids internationally, there are a few restrictions to keep in mind. The following items can’t be shipped with USPS to international destinations: 

  • Nail polish 
  • Gasoline 
  • Aerosols 
  • Perfume containing alcohol 
  • Flammable or combustible paint* 

*Note: Water-based or Latex-based paints can be shipped internationally, as long as they don’t contain hazardous materials. 

Tips for shipping liquids 

Regardless of size, USPS requires packages containing liquids to be labeled on the outer packaging and to include orientation labels to show how your package should be handled. For liquids over 4 ounces, you’ll need to triple-wrap your shipment. 

To triple-package your shipment, place your product in a leak-proof container that covers the original packaging. Then, place the container in a box, like a Priority Mail Flat Rate® Box. It also doesn’t hurt to fill the gaps in-between with absorbent materials. If you’re shipping liquids in glass or breakable containers, it’s best to add extra cushioning materials within the gaps of the box and around your products.  

Shipping liquids with Stamps.com 

Your customers are eagerly waiting for their drinks, makeup, and other products. With branded shipment notification emails and branded tracking, they’ll receive up-to-date tracking information from a customized tracking page. Our recent study showed that 43% of customers want daily tracking updates, so an easily accessible tracking option will help your business stand out. 

Stamps.com merchants can also order free USPS supplies, like the aforementioned Priority Mail Flat Rate® Boxes. These supplies can be shipped directly to your home or business for no additional cost and include supplies for both Priority Mail® and Priority Mail Express® service options. To order free USPS supplies*, simply log in to your Stamps.com account and click the Buy Supplies option on your dashboard. 

*If using Stamps.com Software, click Online Store on the left side of your dashboard. 

CTA: Start your 30-day free trial with Stamps.com today.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

USPS HAZMAT Label Update 2024

January 11th, 2024 Comments off

Starting January 21st, USPS is enhancing safety measures for handling dangerous goods shipments. The HAZMAT labels will now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner, the addition of 2D barcodes, and the inclusion of the word “HAZMAT” after “USPS TRACKING #.” Shippers need not take any specific action other than selecting hazardous goods under special services when printing a label when a shipment contains hazardous materials. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the upcoming changes as well as some reminders for shipping hazardous materials. 

What is HAZMAT?

According to USPS, hazardous materials, or HAZMAT, are “any matter having a clear potential for causing harm to the mail, persons, or property involved in moving the mail.” This classification is at the discretion of USPS and does include items like camp stoves, chainsaws, and other items that use fuel. For more tips on packaging USPS HAZMAT shipments, visit the USPS website to utilize their HAZMAT Search Tool

HAZMAT label changes 

For the first change, HAZMAT labels will now feature two 2D IMpd™ barcodes. The new barcodes contain the same information as the existing IMpb barcodes and will help optimize processing automation and minimize distortion, printer errors, and increase the ability for labels to be scanned. The barcode banner text will also now read: USPS TRACKING # HAZMAT. This increase in visibility will improve the shipping experience for both you and your customers. The HAZMAT labels will also now feature an oversized letter “H” in the corner.

The second change will include new Dangerous Goods Service Type Codes, or STCs, and new IMpd label banner text. STCs are numeric codes that identify a package’s mail classification and characteristics. This way, packages can be handled appropriately as they move through transit. 

No action is needed 

All merchants using Stamps.com won’t need to add any new steps to their shipping workflow; labels created for hazardous materials will automatically include the new format. You can declare special contents for shipments containing hazardous materials through the steps found below and in our Learning Center. 

Stamps.com Online 

  1. Locate the Mail Tab on your dashboard and select Extra Services.
  2. Click on the Handling drop down menu and choose which Special Contents apply to your shipment. 
  3. Save your selection.
  4. After clicking save, the Special Contents Warning page will appear. Agree to the terms shown. This window will then close. 
  5. Exit the Extra Services page.

Stamps.com PC Software 

  1. Select Add’l Options from the Package tab.
  2. Find the Handling drop down menu and choose which Special Contents apply to your shipment. 
  3. After the Special Contents Warning window opens, agree to the terms given. 
  4. Click Okay. 
  5. Exit the Additonal Services window.

Start your 30-day free trial with Stamps.com today. 

Resources

HAZMAT Search Tool

USPS HAZMAT guidelines and restrictions 

USPS TV’s Guide to Mailing Hazardous Materials 

Categories: USPS News Tags:

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