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The new 2016 postage rates have led to a number of online shipping changes and they are causing ALOT of confusion! Previously, most people used Paypal for packages under 13 oz and some priority packages taking advantage of Commercial Base Pricing. For Padded Flat Rate Envelopes and Regional Rate Boxes, USPS.com provided the same discounts, saving sellers quite a bit on Priority. But starting January 16, 2016, this pricing is no longer available at USPS.com, leaving sellers scrambling for more cost effective options.
The biggest news is the increase in Priority Mail prices and the removal of the online discount on USPS.com (giving sellers a double hit). Paypal still has the discounted Priority Rates, which means you can always check, based on weight, if that is a viable option. They also still have the discounts for Flat Rate Boxes. But many use Padded Flat Rate Envelopes and Regional Rate Boxes to ship larger purchases. If you stick with USPS.com, the price of a Padded FRE jumps from $5.70 to $6.80! In reviewing a couple options, I came across ShippingEasy. ShippingEasy is an online shipping service that uses offers both Padded Flat Rate Envelopes and Regional Rate Boxes at the discounted Commercial Rate. By using ShippingEasy, a padded FRE is $6.10 (versus $6.80 on USPS.com) and Regional Rate boxes are available at the Commercial Rate. The best part is that it is FREE to use for up to 50 shipments a month! For over 50 shipments, they offer low cost plans based on volume. Since most sellers continue to use PayPal for First Class, a paid plan should not be necessary unless you are a high volume seller. Even then, if you do the math and are only using for priority – about 15-20 shipments will easily pay the monthly fee. Click here to check out ShippingEasy.
In addition to the change of pricing for Priority at USPS.com, shipping First Class online NO LONGER provides any discount. While this is very frustrating to those of us that casually sell our kids clothes. Of course, there are still some benefits to shipping online. Your buyer receives a confirmation email with tracking and you can still save yourself a trip to the Post Office. The discount, however, was a nice plus. There is a silver lining though. First Class Service has been expanded to 16 oz, which saves about $2 on shipments between 13 oz & 16 oz. Here is a comparison of the new First Class rates:
If you are new to online shipping, to ship from Home, you will need some supplies. Amazon is a great source for reasonably priced shipping supplies. You can always go to Staples, but you will find that their supplies are significantly more expensive than buying ahead at Amazon.
Polymailers: These are plastic mailers that are used to package your shipment. They are about $8/100, so extremely inexpensive compared to manila envelopes, they also hold up much better than paper when packaging clothing. The mailers that you receive can vary in quality. Lately I have been using these colored mailers because they are sturdier than recent orders I have made of the white mailers.
Shipping Tape: Even if you are going to use labels, you will want to have some of this around to make sure that a package is secure or that there aren’t any loose edges that could catch in sort center machinery.
Shipping Labels: Much easier than printing on paper and taping. At around $0.04/label, it’s well worth the extra expense.
Clear Bags: Even when using a polymailer, you should always put the contents inside another plastic bag. This helps to prevent damage in the event that the outside mailer is damaged. You can re-use bags that you get from online clothing orders, but these are a great option if you don’t have any available. More cost effective that ziplock bags from the grocery store.
Printer: You will need a printer! If you don’t already have one, consider one that allows you to print wirelessly from your phone. I love our Epson Printer and have been happy with the cheapy refills!
Once you have your supplies and have made a sale, it is really easy to prepare your shipment. Fully package the items. Weigh the items (in the shipping packaging) on your scale. If it is under 16 oz, go to PayPal (we will discuss over 16 oz next). Next to the transaction, you should see a “print label” button. Enter the shipping weight and click the purchase button on the bottom of the screen. Print the label, affix to the package and you’re all set! You can leave the package in your mailbox, in a blue box (if under 13 oz) or schedule a pick-up online. The tracking for your package automatically uploads in PayPal and your buyer is notified of the shipment.
If your shipment is over 16 oz, you have a couple options. The first thing to do is to ask the buyer what their zip code is. Priority Mail has two different options. First, regular Priority Mail is distance based. So if your buyer lives a state or two away, this is often cheaper than the second option, Flat Rate. Flat Rate is the same price, no matter where you are shipping. USPS.com offers free packaging for flat rate options. You simply order online and they are delivered within a week to 10 days. I find that the most useful are Padded Flat Rate Envelopes, Regional Rate A1 Boxes, and Regional Rate B1 Boxes. Once you have your buyers zip code, weigh the package and put the details into the USPS online shipping calculator. This will tell you the cheapest way to ship. Regular, distance-based, Priority Mail postage can be purchased on PayPal like a First Class Package. PayPal also supports Small, Medium & Large Flat Rate Boxes (these can be ordered online or picked up at a Post Office). If you will be using a Padded Flat Rate Envelope or Regional Rate Box, we are now recommending ShippingEasy. When shipping through ShippingEasy, there is the option to notify the recipient of shipping by providing their email address. This is a great way to let the buyer know that the package has shipped and ensure that they have the tracking available. The rate between a cardboard Flat Rate Envelope and Padded Flat Rate Envelope is different. Using the wrong type of postage could result in postage due when the buyer receives the package. It should also be mentioned that not all Priority boxes and envelopes are flat rate! Be sure that if you are using Flat Rate postage that “Flat Rate” is printed on the box or envelope that you are using. It can be a costly mistake!