4 Tips to Soften Holiday Shipping Carrier Surcharges

October 14th, 2020 Comments off

Online retailers are expecting Q4 2020 online sales to grow significantly this holiday season.  According to Deloitte, e-commerce sales should grow 25% to 35% in 2020 as more customers move their buying activity online due to retail store closures from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This increase in e-commerce sales during the 2020 peak period brings a huge demand for parcel delivery.  And with most of the increased parcel delivery going to residences, shipping carriers have announced holiday surcharges to help offset the added costs of delivering to a residence.

2020 Carrier Holiday Surcharge Summary by Carrier

USPS – starts Oct 18, 2020 through Dec 26, 2020

Holiday surcharges apply to all shippers who use Commercial Base Pricing (purchasing postage online).  Surcharges range from $0.25 for First Class Package Service, to $0.40 for Priority Mail and $1.50 for Priority Mail Express.

UPS Ground – starts Nov 15, 2020 through Jan 16, 2021

Holiday surcharges for UPS Ground ranges from $1 to $3 per package being delivered to a residence, depending on how much additional volume a shipper has compared to the amount of parcels shipped in February 2020 (last full month before COVID-19 surge).  The higher volume of packages, the higher the surcharge.  Important Note:  UPS will not apply 2020 Peak Season surcharges* nor will it increase its rates in Q4 2020 to customers on Stamps.com under the Digital Access Program.

FedEx Ground – starts Nov 2, 2020 through Jan 17, 2021

FedEx Ground is basing their holiday surcharges on specific parcel volume being delivered to a residence.  Shippers who ship over 35,000 packages per week average during November will determine when the surcharge is applied.   Holiday surcharges for FedEx Ground ranges from $1 to $4 per package, depending on volume.  

4 Tips to Lower the Impact of Carrier Holiday Surcharges

1. Use USPS First Class Package Service for all packages under 1 lb.

First Class Package Service is the cheapest shipping service among all U.S. carriers for packages under 1 lb.  The service provides delivery across the U.S. in 2-4 days including tracking for a maximum cost of $5.95 (includes holiday surcharge).  While the USPS has implemented a $0.25 holiday surcharge for 2020, $0.25 is much cheaper than the $1-$4 other carriers are charging.  If your package is being delivered to a residence and is under 1 lb., there is no better option than First Class Package Service.

2. Downsize your boxes if possible as DIM is more important than ever

With holiday carrier surcharges, it’s more important than ever to make sure your boxes are properly sized for the items they are delivering.  Make sure you are using the smallest possible package size that can provide safe transit for your product.  Shaving a few inches from the box size can equal big cost savings.  As an example – a 12″ x 12″ x 8″ box will have a DIM billable weight that is two pounds higher than a 12″ x 12″ x 6″ box.  That extra 2” in box size will cost $2 or more per package. 

3. Introduce Product Bundles to Increase AOV

A great e-commerce strategy to help increase average order value (AOV) is to introduce product bundles. Product bundling is when you couple together multiple products as a package deal that are often purchased at the same time.  A good example is when a person buys a new iPhone, they typically get a new phone case and possibly a longer charging cable.  Once created, bundles can be promoted on the core product page to help buyers find all the products they need quickly, and thus increase AOV. Plus, a higher AOV can help sellers lower the sting of extra holiday surcharges as you have more revenue to absorb the additional delivery costs. 

4. Offer Sales Promotions Before Holiday Surcharges Start

During the 2020 peak period, try to create sales promotions that will encourage buyers to make purchases earlier in the season, before the carrier holiday surcharges start. This is especially important if you provide free shipping since the additional shipping fees will either require you to increase your product price or you’ll need to lower your margin.  This strategy also helps kick off your holiday sales while ensuring your buyers have plenty of time to receive their packages before the holidays.

Carrier Surcharge Start Dates:

USPS – starts October 18
FedEx Ground – starts November 2
UPS Ground – starts November 15

*UPS reserves the right, it its sole and unlimited discretion, to apply Peak Surcharges to the UPS Digital Access Program or to otherwise change UPS’s pricing or terms at any time without notice.

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Can I Mail Prescription Drugs with USPS?

July 23rd, 2020 Comments off

If you need to mail prescription drugs, you’ll want to get to know federal and state laws about shipping these items before trying to ship them with the USPS. Here are the basics of mailing drugs via the USPS. You will need to be familiar with what is permitted, and what isn’t, to avoid any legal issues.

Prescription Drugs

As the name implies, prescription drugs are not available except with a written order from a licensed medical provider. You are only permitted to mail prescription drugs via the USPS if you are a pharmacist or medical provider mailing such drugs to the patient they have been prescribed to. This means that without proper medical licensing you can receive prescription drugs, but you cannot, under any circumstance, mail them.

Over-the-Counter Drugs

Prescription drugs are only permitted to be sent via USPS under specific circumstances—but what about over-the-counter drugs?

Any drug that is available for retail without a prescription is considered an over-the-counter drug. Common examples of such drugs are mild pain-relief medicines and skin creams. Anyone can mail such drugs with the USPS as long as they comply with federal and state laws such as the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 and the Consumer Protection Safety Commission Requirements.

Controlled Substances

Controlled substances are drugs in which the federal government tightly controls. These substances are placed into five categories, or schedules, each with varying regulations and mailability. Some controlled substances are treated as prescription drugs—they can be mailed by medical professionals with the proper documentation. Other controlled substances are not mailable under any circumstances. The USPS takes the shipment of narcotics very seriously, and the Postal Inspection Service Prohibited Mail Narcotics program investigates shipments of illegal drugs through the mail and works closely with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat this illicit trade.

You cannot mail a controlled substance unless:

  • You and the person you are mailing the drugs to are registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency or are exempt from the registration requirement. (Law enforcement, civil defense workers, and members of the military do not need to register with the DEA).
  • You are participating in a federal mail-back program to dispose of such drugs and follow the mailing regulations for participation in the program.
  • You are a drug manufacturer or pharmacy owner who is filling a prescription containing narcotics.
  • You should be aware that anything used to take narcotics, such as pipes or syringes, cannot be mailed under current federal guidelines.

Rules for Packaging Drugs

Controlled substances must have inner packaging that is marked and sealed in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act in addition to providing information on the inner packaging about the prescription, such as the prescription number and the name and address of the pharmacy dispensing the drug. The outer wrapping of such packages must be plain and cannot contain any information identifying the package’s contents.

Other drugs must be placed inside a plain wrapper or package.

Promotional samples of non-prescription drugs may have a brief description of the product on the outside of the package along with the words SAMPLES ENCLOSED.

It is important to follow all of these rules because mailing drugs in a non-allowed manner is considered a breach of federal law and can result in serious legal consequences. If a USPS inspector finds non-mailable drugs in a package presented for delivery, that worker is required to report it as well as reject the item for delivery.

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USMCA Starts July 1, 2020

July 1st, 2020 Comments off

Starting on July 1, 2020, the U.S., Canada and Mexico will start a new trade agreement called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) which will be replacing what was formerly known as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The purpose of the agreement is to encourage trade between the three countries, ensure fair labor practices are followed and provide incentives for manufacturing in North America.

For online retailers, one of the key changes within this new agreement is the de minimis threshold values for express shipments (and via customs brokers) into Canada and Mexico from the U.S.

De minimis is a price threshold which countries use to determine if duties and taxes will be applied on shipments.  The de minimis threshold is different for each country, and is determined by the total value of your shipped goods, including shipping fees.  Online retailers like high de minimis thresholds for each country, since a higher threshold keeps duties and taxes from being added to the product cost for a buyer.  As an example, if the de minimis for Australia is $1000 USD, then we can ship items up to $1000 (including shipping cost) without incurring additional duties and taxes.  If the product cost plus shipping is over $1000 USD, then the buyer is going to have to pay additional costs (duties and taxes) to receive the product.

IMPORTANT!  Changes for de minimis starting on July 1, 2020 only applies to express shippers and custom brokers.  Shipments handled by the Postal Service are not changing!

Shipments Entering Canada

Postal Shipments de minimis (USPS delivery to Canada Post)

•  Goods valued over $20 CAD will have tax applicable (Unchanged)

Express Shipments/Custom Brokers de minimis

•   Goods valued over $40 CAD will have tax applicable (New with USMCA)

•   Goods valued over $150 CAD will have both duty and tax applicable (New with USMCA)

Shipments Entering Mexico

Postal Shipments de minimis (USPS delivery to Correos de México)

•   Goods valued over $300 USD will have tax applicable (Unchanged)

Express Shipments/Custom Brokers de minimis

• Goods valued over $50 USD will have tax applicable (Unchanged)

•  Goods valued over $117 USD will have both duty and tax applicable (New with USMCA)

Interested in lowering your international parcel shipments?  Contact GlobalPost and take advantage of free coverage, an easy claims process, no hassle of printing customs forms and more.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

How to Ship Cremated Remains

December 9th, 2019 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.”

As of September 2019, the USPS requires using 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

Additionally, shippers are required to affix Label 139 to all six sides of their shipping box.

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: https://blog.stamps.com/2017/04/21/usps-package-pickups-and-drop-offs/

Categories: Shipping Tags:

USPS International Weight Limits

November 15th, 2019 Comments off

Are you planning to ship gifts internationally this holiday season? You should know that USPS weight limits vary by mail class and destination country.

To ensure that your holiday packages are mailable check out the table below— you can determine how much your international package or letter can weigh by mail class and destination:

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