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2021 USPS Postage Rate Increase Guide

January 22nd, 2021 Comments off

Starting January 24, 2021, the USPS will implement new rates for domestic and international mail classes as well as its Special Services. Want to learn more about these changes and how they may impact your mailing and shipping? We’ve created a new guide for our customers detailing the USPS rate and service change for each mail class. This Postage Rate Increase Guide

includes side-by-side rate comparisons so you know how much you’ll pay on and after January 24, whether you pay retail rates or discounted Stamps.com rates. This guide also includes general shipping suggestions and a Frequently Asked Questions page to help answer any questions you might have about this rate increase.

This guide includes 2021 postage rates for:

Categories: USPS News Tags:

Shipping from the U.S. to UK with 2021 VAT Rules

December 22nd, 2020 Comments off

Starting January 1, 2021, shipping to the UK is becoming more complex due to Brexit.

If you’re an online retailer shipping products from the U.S. to the United Kingdom (UK), you will need to change your fulfillment process starting January 1, 2021.  The UK has left the European Union trading relationship and the country has implemented new rules for goods and services to be imported into the UK.

Brexit Background – UK Exits the European Union Trade Agreement

The UK officially left the European Union on January 31, 2020, a process that is commonly called “Brexit.”  This announcement triggered a “transition period,” where trade would continue as is with no changes to UK Value-Added Tax (VAT) rules, treatment of transactions or filings through December 31, 2020. 

Starting on January 1, 2021, all UK imports and exports will fall under the World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, which requires changes to many fulfillment processes for U.S. e-commerce parcel deliveries to the UK. 

Changes for E-commerce Orders Being Delivered to UK:

Under the World Trade Order terms, there are four important changes occurring for products being shipped to the UK from the U.S. (along with all countries):

#1 Register for VAT and Collect VAT Fees:  As a U.S. online retailer, you will now be required to register for a VAT number and create an online account from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in order to deliver e-commerce orders into the UK.  Once you have your VAT number, you will be required to collect all VAT fees from your buyers at time of product purchase. This VAT fee was previously being completed when a parcel entered the UK, typically with the buyer having to pay VAT to release the package from Customs.  The new WTO rules pushes that VT tax collection burden to the online retailer in the U.S. who is exporting the product to the UK.

VAT rates for collection depend on the product price:

A)     Most Goods and Services valued UNDER £135 have a 20% VAT Rate

Goods and services shipped to the UK with a value between £0.01 and £135 (between $1 and approximately $180 USD) will incur VAT fee of 20% of the product price (not including shipping fees).  U.S. online retailers selling products to UK buyers are require to collect this 20% VAT fee at the time of sale.  Online retailers will be responsible to pay all VAT collected to HMRC every three months.

B)     VAT for Goods and Services valued OVER £135

All shipments with goods and services valued higher than £135 (approximately $180 USD) will be subject to the current VAT procedures, which state VAT is payable as the parcels are being imported into the UK.  These types of packages are often cleared through customs via parcel consolidators and all applicable duties and VAT will be paid to HMRC directly by the parcel consolidator, who then normally invoices the online retailer.

#2 Make Quarterly VAT Return Payments to HMRC:  Online retailers must report and pay the VAT Return (taxes) collected from their online sales each quarter to HMRC. You can find your actual deadline inside your VAT online account, but in general the deadline for HMRC’s bank to receive payment is one calendar month plus 7 days after the end of the accounting period (annual quarter).  If your VAT Return payment is late, you could be liable for additional late fees.

To submit your VAT Return, you can use HMRC’s free online service or one of the many commercial accounting software platforms that HMRC has partnered with. The approved software list includes many popular solutions such as QuickBooks Online, Sage Business Cloud and SAP. 

Your quarterly VAT Return should include key data points for your UK sales such as:

· Total sales and purchases for your account (only orders delivered to UK)
· The amount of VAT you owe from your UK sales
· The amount of VAT you can reclaim (i.e. order returns, product defects)
· The amount of VAT refund due from HRMC

#3 More Info Required in Customs Documents: All parcel shipments into the UK will be subject to customs clearance and inspections, which could add significant delays for parcels being delivered to the buyer.  U.S. online retailers shipping goods or services into the UK will need to provide import or export declarations to UK Customs.  A customs invoice will be required for each parcel that shows UK VAT along with the product price in order for the parcel to be released out of customs.

#4 Elimination of the Low Value Consignment Relief: In addition to implementing the WTO trade terms, the UK is removing Low Value Consignment Relief (LVCR) – a rule that allowed good and products from outside the EU that had a value of £15 or less (estimated $20) to be tax exempt.  In 2021, those products will now be subject to the 20% VAT rate.

The UK is taking these actions to ensure that goods and services from outside the UK are treated in the same manner as products within the country, so as UK businesses are not disadvantaged by competition from VAT free imports.

Failure to adhere to these new UK Customs procedures could result in:
· Parcels being refused entry into the UK by customs
· Parcels being returned to sender (including return shipping fees depending on carrier used)
· Parcels and products being destroyed
· Parcels incurring major delays in being delivered to buyer
· Parcels generating additional shipping and/or customs fees, or penalties

Required actions to sell and ship products into the UK in 2021

Starting January 1, 2021, online retailers selling goods or services to UK buyers will be required to register their business with the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to obtain a VAT number.  Here are the steps to complete this process:

How to Create UK Government Gateway Account and Register for VAT

1.            Go to the HMRC login in page by clicking the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/log-in-register-hmrc-online-services

2.            Click on the Green “Sign in” button.

3.            Click on “Create sign in details”.

4.            Enter your Email Address and click “Continue”.

5.            The site will email you a “Confirmation code”.  Enter the code and click the Green “Confirm” button to continue.

6.            User ID Issued.

7.            Enter your name.

8.            Create a Password and hit “Continue”.

9.            Set up a Recovery Password and click “Continue”.

10.         You will now receive your Government Gateway User ID which consists of 12 numbers.

11.         You will then need to register for VAT using your Government Gateway User ID and Password.

To register with HMRC for a VAT number, proceed to the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/vat-registration/how-to-register

Do Sellers on eBay, Amazon or another Online Marketplace Have to Collect VAT?

Online marketplaces (OMP) such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy and others will be responsible for collecting the VAT from the buyer when the sale occurs on their website as long as the price is £135 or less.  For sales that are over £135, the OMP will not collect the VAT and existing import rules will go into effect (seller pays at port of entry).

Categories: International Shipping Tags:

5 Tips For Handling Holiday Returns

December 15th, 2020 Comments off

Whether we like it or not, customer returns will always be a part of running a business as an e-commerce retailer—and customers demand a streamlined returns process now more than ever. In fact, in a 2019 survey conducted by UPS, 73% of e-commerce customers expressed that their decision to return to a web retailer depended on their return experience. As the holiday return season approaches, it’s important to remember thar every return is an opportunity to learn and demonstrate your commitment to improving the customer’s experience. Here are some tips to help with e-commerce returns and help your customers have a happy holiday shopping season.

1. Illustrate your Returns Process

Creating a well-designed policy page for returns can smooth out the process for your customers. Adding graphic icons or images can help illustrate certain aspects of your return policy will help customers understand how the return process works. Return policy pages that are solely text-based can overwhelm customers, and in some cases drive them away. A well-designed page that is easy to understand and informative can improve the perception of your online store and increase chances of gaining a loyal customer.

2. Collect your Customer’s Reasons for Returns

Your return page should allow customers to explain why they are making a return; this will provide valuable insight that you can use to improve your business. With these responses in hand you can identify potential issues in your online business. For example, if many customers are responding that the product does not fit as expected, you may need to adjust the product’s description and photo. If customers are often reporting a delivery is late, you may consider using a different mail class or delivery service.

Common set responses on a return page include:

Fulfillment/Carrier Problems:

  • Item received is not what the customer ordered.
  • Delivery of the item was too late.
  • The item was never received.
  • The product was damaged or defective.
  • An incorrect product was sent.

Description/Photo Problems:

  • Incorrect product or size ordered.
  • Product fit is smaller or larger than described.
  • Product does not match the description or expectation.
  • Product is not as pictured.

Misc.:

  • Product is no longer needed.
  • Purchased the wrong product.

3. Always Offer Encourage Returns

As an online retailer, you put time and effort into marketing and fulfilling your product—that’s why returns are not only a hustle, but potentially a net loss. When a return comes in, it’s imperative to always offer, and encourage an exchange. Providing exchanges are almost always a better solution than a return resulting in no final sale. By working with the customer to complete and exchange, you not only recoup some of your marketing and fulfillment cost, but you also give the customer a better experience than an outright return. Going the extra mile on exchanges is a great way to gain a repeat customer. Online shoppers have more confidence purchasing from retailers who offer a streamlined exchange process—and confidant customers often become loyal customers.

4. Provide Incentives for Quick Returns

It’s best to create a policy that provides customers with a clear timeframe for return eligibility and incentivizes them to return as quickly as possible. After all, the longer a customer holds on to their purchase before returning, the longer it will take for you to resell the product. Additionally, the longer a product is in the hands of a customer before a return, the more likely it will have to be discounted for its second sale. Offering free return within the first 15 days of a 30-day policy is a great way to incentivize a customer to return the product quickly.

5. Let Customers Know Where They Can Return

Dropping off returns can be an involved process when you don’t know where to go, especially around the holiday season. By providing locations and information on where to drop off the packages in your return policy, you help customers determine the best course of action for their returns. If you ship with UPS, there are over 4,000 UPS stores in the United States, along with their UPS Access Point Network in stores like CVS, Michaels, and Advance Auto Parts where customers can drop off packages. If you offer USPS shipping, customers can give their return to their mail carrier or drop it off at any Post Office.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

UPS Pickup and Drop-off Options through Stamps.com

November 24th, 2020 Comments off

There is nothing small about your business. You are on the go and on the move, and shipping packages should be the least of your worries. That’s why, in addition to great shipping rates, UPS with Stamps.com offers thousands of easy drop-off points for your packages.

With over 60,000 drop-off locations within the U.S., you’re sure to find a location that works best for you. Here are a few helpful hints to help you along the way:

  • Use the UPS Global Locator to find a convenient drop-off location
  • Dropping off a few packages? UPS Drop Boxes accept ground, air, and international packages and are conveniently found throughout the U.S.
  • If you have multiple packages, you can drop them off at one of the thousands of UPS Access Point® locations, including The UPS Store®, grocers and convenience stores near you, in addition to trusted retail locations like Michaels, CVS or Advanced Auto Parts. 92% of the U.S. population will live within 5 miles of a UPS Access Point location by the end of 2020.
  • Did you know? You can drop off USPS and UPS packages at The UPS Store! One convenient stop to handle all your shipping needs

What about pickup options?

  • You can hand your packages directly to UPS driver whenever they deliver to you!
  • Schedule an on-call pickup on Stamps.com for $3.80. With discounted rates*, this option is affordable and convenient for days when dropping off packages just doesn’t work for you.

UPS makes it easy for you to drop off or pick up packages so you can keep growing your business!

How to Add UPS Shipping to Your Stamps.com Account

Adding UPS 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.

* Rates and any applicable discounts are subject to change at any time without notice.

Categories: UPS Shipping Tags:

Small Business Saturday Tips For Online Sellers

November 20th, 2020 Comments off

Every year small businesses across the U.S. look forward to one of the fastest-growing retail holidays, Small Business Saturday. Falling on the last Saturday of November, November 28th this year, Small Business Saturday gives independent retailers a chance to promote their businesses and reach out to eager holiday shoppers. Last year, American shoppers spent nearly $20 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. With many small businesses facing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s holiday could have more of an impact than ever.

Here are a few tips to help your online business maximize the holiday:

1. Get your business listed on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory

Getting in front of more customers is always a good thing, especially when it’s free. If your business accepts American Express, it may be eligible for a listing on the American Express Shop Small Online Directory. This directory is specifically for business without a physical presence—it allows online shoppers to easily see deals and services they can take advantage of with their American Express card. In your directory listing you can provide key details about your business and even spotlight specific offers.

If your business uses a third-party payment aggregator, the criteria for creating a directory listing gets a little complicated. Businesses that fall into this category will need to provide additional information and my not be eligible for a listing.

2. Create a Pop-up Store in an existing business

The barrier to entry for brick-and-mortar business is high, leading many businesses to exclusively sell online. Pop-up stores give online businesses the opportunity to connect with shoppers in person without the hassle opening a permanent physical location. By connection with an existing brick-and-mortar store you can bring your products to a whole new audience and build brand awareness. Pop-ups don’t only benefit the guest business; owners can see a bid increase in store traffic with a whole new line of products in their store.

3. Take advantage of social media

In 2020, it’s hard to deny the impact of social media on retail trends, but you’d be surprised how many businesses underutilize social media to promote their products. Whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or Reddit, each and every one of your post is a chance to communicate your brand with customers. Your customers should know that you plan to participate in Small Business Saturday. Find ways to build excitement about your products, brand, and special offers.

Additionally, always remember hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, and #SmallBizSat. These hashtags will help new shoppers connect with your business. With a variety of small businesses participating nationwide, you may even find inspiration for your promotions by exploring these hashtags.

4. Try to convert new customers into loyal customers

Small Business Saturday is your chance to put your online store in front of new customers—and hopefully convert them into loyal customers. It’s important that you put your best foot forward and give the customer a reason to come back. Make sure that you have the bandwidth to ensure a great online experience for your customers. This means you must be able to provide top-notch customer support at all stages of the customers experience. Whether the customer has questions about a product, shipping status, or returns, they should have a means to contact your business and get assistance. Customer support is especially important during the holiday season when many shoppers are in a rush and don’t have time to be bogged down by a poor experience.

For more information about Small Business Saturday and how your business can participate visit the American Express Shop Small page.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

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