What Every eBay Seller Needs to Know About Priority Mail

September 24th, 2014 1 comment

suzanne-wells_1The USPS Flat Rate boxes seem like an easy and convenient way to ship merchandise for any business.  You don’t have to worry about the weight of the items in the shipment and as the USPS says, “If it fits, it ships for one low price.” In many cases  Flat Rate packages are often a great choice, but depending upon the contents of the package and destination, sometimes it is better to use a non-Flat Rate mailing.  On eBay, this is particularly important because the way you ship your products can have an effect on your DSRs – Detailed Seller Ratings.

eBay’s Detailed Seller Rating Score
eBay has a seller rating system set up for buyers called DSRs.  After a buyer makes a purchase and receives their order, he/she can rate the seller on four different aspects of the transaction by using a five-star rating system.  Five stars equate to perfect service and on the other end of the spectrum, one star is unacceptable service.  One of the rating criteria is shipping and handling charges.  In other words, if a seller over charges for shipping, or the customer perceives the seller has overcharged him, he can give the seller a low rating in this category.  This is where most sellers have a problem when using USPS Flat Rate boxes.

Delivery Distance Plays a Huge Roll in Costs
Let’s say you are going to ship an order in a Medium Flat Rate box and the order weighs three pounds.  According the USPS site, the cost to ship a large three pound Flat Rate package is $14.50. (A three pound package could contain something like a coat, a pair of shoes, or some cookware).  But, the cost to ship the same three pound package via regular Priority Mail from my location in Atlanta, Georgia to Charlotte, North Carolina only costs $6.55, a difference of $7.95.  While both options result in the same delivery service, the Flat Rate box is more than double the price; the result is the customer is forced to pay much more for shipping the product than was required.  In the event that the buyer notices that regular Priority Mail could have been used to help lower the S&H cost, they  may be upset and give a low rating on DSRs.

While it may be easier to always use a Flat Rate Box, it is not always the most economical choice.  For customers who do pay higher shipping rates, you also run the risk of negative feedback.  Based on personal experience, I can safely say that customers are not happy when they come to the conclusion that they paid double for shipping because the seller didn’t use the right method.

Use eBay’s Calculated Shipping for More Accurate Rates
What is the answer?  Use a calculated shipping rate rather than the Flat Rate.  Calculated shipping is the most fair and accurate way to charge for shipping.  When setting shipping and handling rates, be sure to remember these selling tips:

Watch your handling fees – avoid adding them at all. Add handling fees on to the price of the item instead so the buyer does not feel “swindled”.  Many buyers on eBay are not business people and do not necessarily understand the cost of doing business.  We have to keep that in mind to get good DSRs.

Use USPS Flat Rate boxes cautiously. Flat Rate boxes are easy by design and are great for heavy items going a long distance, but are not always the best choice.

About the Author
Selling on eBay since 2003, Suzanne Wells aka The eBay Selling Coach has sold over 17,000 items as a one person operation and has achieved the status of Silver Level Power Seller on eBay.   Suzanne’s book, The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Successful eBay Selling helps eBay sellers learn what products to sell, where to find them and how to successfully market on eBay.

Categories: Ebay Shipping, Ecommerce Shipping Tags:

Magento USPS Shipping Label Extension Now Available

September 24th, 2014 Comments off

Magento-EPG-VStamps.com is excited to announce a new USPS shipping label integration with popular shopping cart Magento.  Available as both an open-source free solution or as a fully supported paid ecommerce platform, Magento is a professional solution for over 60,000 merchants and growing.  Features available for enterprise users include gift registry, advanced search capabilities, and simplified extension integrations.  Some of Magento’s clients include Lenovo, 3M, Samsung, and more.  Here are some of the major features of Magento that make it easy to see why Magento is such a popular choice:

  • Inventory management – including support for back ordered items, min. and max quantities, and RSS feeds for low stock level alerts
  • Location based tax rates
  • Batch import/export of catalog
  • One-page checkout
  • Mobile support
  • Customer accounts including order status/history and reorders
  • Support for soft product sales and downloads
  • Search engine friendly features such as Google site map and URL rewrites

In addition to these features, Magento’s open-source nature makes it easy for third party developers to create powerful extensions and themes for your business.  Currently, there are over 2000 extensions recognized by Magento.

To make USPS shipping easier than ever, Stamps.com has recently launched an extension that allows merchants to quickly import Magnento orders to Stamps.com, print pre-paid USPS shipping labels, and post shipment/tracking info back to Magento.  With Stamps.com, merchants can print postage for all mail classes, including Media Mail and First Class Mail International and insure packages at discounted rates.

Learn more about Stamps.com’s Magento integration.

Categories: Ecommerce Shipping, Shipping Tags:

IT Solutions Firm Lowers Costs, Becomes More Efficient with Online Postage

September 24th, 2014 Comments off
Stephen Yoss, President of mantisPRO

Stephen Yoss, President of mantisPRO

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Stephen Yoss, President of mantisPRO, to see how his company became more efficient by moving from a postage meter to Stamps.com online postage.   mantisPro is an IT solutions firm specializing in communication (VoIP) and document management solutions for businesses.  Stephen Yoss started using Stamps.com over 10 years ago at his family’s CPA firm.  His goal was to save time and money on his USPS mailings.

Stamps.com: How did you find out about Stamps.com and online postage?

mantisPRO: We’ve been with Stamps.com probably since the beginning.  We originally heard about the service from a colleague in the accounting profession so we gave it a shot.  We’ve always been the kind of firm that invested in technology, training, and support.  It was a natural move for us.  So we downloaded the software and instantly saw the value in it.  We’ve been with Stamps.com ever since.

We probably sent back our Pitney Bowes machines with Stamps.com postage!

Stamps.com:  What type of mailing program did you use prior to online postage?

mantisPRO: We used a variety of technologies.  From something as simple to just putting a stamp on a letter to having an expensive postage meter.  Our business gets very busy once a year during tax season.  And during that time of the year, it’s great having a meter, but the rest of the year it didn’t really make sense to us because we weren’t really using it all that much.

We moved away from that postage meter because of the cost of leasing the equipment.  There were maintenance fees and other costs that we didn’t really understand.  With the Stamps.com subscription  model, it was much more cost efficient and you just use print postage when you need it, right from your desktop.

Stamps.com: What type of features were you looking for with online postage that you were not finding with a Postage Meter?

mantisPRO: In our industry, we bill by the minute and if you’re not billing, you’re not making money.  From a cost standpoint, we had to pay for the postage meter equipment, the account fees, and the fee to add more postage to the meter.  All these fees really added up quickly.  Over the lifespan of our postage machine lease, something that should have cost very little ended up costing a lot.

By moving to Stamps.com, we not only saved money but we also saved time, which is very important to us.

Our product is our knowledge and our ability to produce for our clients.  With Stamps.com, we were able to free up the time of our associates.  Instead of having to either call a company in order to buy postage for the meter or go to the Post Office for stamps, they can just print the postage that they need and move on to the next project.  At the end of the day, our time is the most important thing to our business.

Stamps.com: Was it hard to get started?   Did you find the software easy to use?

mantisPRO: Yes, absolutely easy to use.  When you log in to the software, you select exactly what mail piece you are trying to send, whether it be a package, a postcard or a letter.  Then you select how much it weighs.  If it’s a flat rate mail piece, Stamps.com will tell you don’t even bother weighing this, just print the postage.

If you need additional services such as return receipt, certified mail, or insured mail, the software will print that particular piece and deduct the amount accordingly off your account balance.

Getting started was easy to do.  Just download the software and you’re done, for the most part.  Input your credit card information, buy the NetStamps, and you’re ready to go.

Stamps.com: What type of mail pieces do you commonly mail out?

mantisPRO: We send a variety of packages out —  everything from basic letters to large envelopes with tax-returns, to packages, to whatever.  We use the scale and either print the label or we’ll print a sheet of NetStamps.

We usually have a couple of different folders for our clients that we’re tracking costs for and we’ll keep postage in a folder for each of them.  We’ll print out a sheet of labels and use them as need be.

We always have one sheet of labels with like 10 stamps or so missing because that’s when we need to print a stamp with $1.50 or a $2.51 denomination.  Stamps.com gives us that flexibility.  The cool thing is, Stamps.com tracks what stamps are gone from each label, so you’re never printing the wrong one to an empty space.

Sometimes we’re sending something as simple as a bill, or a letter, then we’ll just print First Class postage.  If we’re sending a postcard, we have the flexibility to print $0.28 postage stamp.  There are so many different things you can do within Stamps.com that really makes it effective for us.

Stamps.com: What type of cost tracking and reports have you used with Stamps.com?

mantisPRO: We have a lot of clients that we handle all of their back office support for.  And for these clients, it’s very easy to track what you’re spending your money on with Stamps.com.

With Pitney Bowes, or a traditional machine, we would just meter the envelope and it would be done; we didn’t really track the costs to that level. But now, we have an account for each client that allows us to pass the cost of the postage on to them and track those costs more effectively.  So instead of our company just eating the entire cost, we’re able to make sure we’re being reimbursed for the postage we use for each client.

Also, the only real expense is the labels, which is completely reasonable.  There’s no equipment leasing fee or other hidden fees, and at the end of the day, a stamp costs the same no matter where you buy it.

Stamps.com: Does mantisPro ever send Certified Mail?

mantisPRO: When you’re an accountant, you’re dealing a lot with sensitive information, and for some things we need to know  the tax return got there on time.  We often encounter stragglers who come in on April 14th.  We really don’t have time to complete their taxes, or we can’t e-file a return, but we need to make sure an extension gets to the IRS on time — you know, due to professional liability.  So yeah, we’ll select Return Receipt and Certified Mail to make sure that that item is taken care of.  We’ll do that on a case by case basis.

To learn more about mantisPRO, visit their site at www.mantispro.com

Categories: Customer Profiles, Postage Meters Tags:

Free Webinar: Utilizing the USPS for Shipping Wed, 8/25 11AM PT

September 24th, 2014 Comments off


EDIT: Thanks to everyone who joined our webinar!  If you missed the webinar, click here for a replay.

Join Stamps.com for a free webinar learn more about the advantages of leveraging the USPS and online postage for your business.

When: Wednesday, August 25th at 11 AM PDT
What: Utilizing the USPS to your Advantage Webinar
Sign-up: Click here to register now
Cost: Free!

This webinar is designed to highlight the various features and benefits of the USPS, to inform you about exciting new programs that are on the way, and to show you how to best use your Stamps.com account to ship with the USPS.  We hope you can join us!

Categories: Webinars Tags:

How to Lower Mailing Costs with Address Cleansing

September 24th, 2014 2 comments

Return_to_senderTimely and accurate mail delivery is vital to businesses everywhere. When your customers’ addresses contain typos, incorrect ZIP codes or non-standard state abbreviations, delivery rates can decline, time in transit can increase, and often times postage is wasted when mail is returned as undeliverable.  In addition to the money spent on returned postage, deliverability issues can have a huge negative impact on customer service.

But when you’ve got thousands of addresses in your customer database, it’s nearly impossible to manually ensure that each and every one of them is correct and formatted to the USPS’s preferred specifications.  This is where address cleansing software comes into play.

What Is Address Cleansing?

Address cleansing is accomplished by software that compares your addresses to addresses in the USPS database to help you discover any errors or inconsistencies regarding spelling, ZIP codes, or state abbreviations.  Often, the cleansing software will suggest an alternative, much like a spell checker.  Occasionally, the address will be incomprehensible; while this may sound like a bad thing, it is better to catch these mistakes before wasting postage on them.  Here is an example of an address that contains a couple of misspellings, an improper abbreviation and an incorrect ZIP code, as well as some missing information about the street:

John Smith
11950 Salam Dr
Granada Hils, CA 91333

Once the address is cleansed according to the USPS’s standards by fixing the street name, city, and zip, the address becomes:

John Smith
11950 Salem Dr
Granada Hills CA 91344-2347

Benefits of Address Cleansing

Here are some of the benefits that can result from cleansing your addresses:

  • Eliminate postage costs for items that cannot be delivered
  • Accelerate the sorting and routing of your mail so that it is delivered faster
  • Improve response rates to direct mail campaigns
  • When sending invoices, collect customer payments faster
  • Increase customer satisfaction through faster delivery

Stamps.com Automatically Cleanses Your Addresses

When you use Stamps.com for your mailing and shipping needs, you don’t need to worry about address cleansing; Stamps.com automatically does it for you! Stamps.com periodically syncs with the USPS Address Matching Service Database to make sure that your customers’ addresses are complete, state abbreviations are standard, and ZIP codes are up to date.  For no extra charge, Stamps.com cleanses every address on your mailing list before printing labels or postage, and you can rest easy knowing that your mail will be delivered quickly, correctly, and without unnecessary expense.

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055

Monday–Friday, 6am–6pm Pacific Time