Ordering USPS Shipping Supplies Online (and small delay for supplies coming up–order now!)

Did you know that you can order shipping supplies straight from USPS.com to be delivered to your door for free?

Lots of post offices don’t carry the full variety of Priority & Express Mail boxes (none carry the “regional rate boxes” as those must be paid for online or there are additional fees on the quoted postage rates) but that doesn’t mean you should have just the right box on hand!

I go through a lot of the small Priority Mail envelopes myself and could easily wipe out my post office’s regular stash, and nothing beats the regional box rates for some of my small but very heavy items. I order the Priority Mail envelopes and boxes online for free and have them delivered to my home so I don’t even have lug them in from the car. (There are also items for sale in the USPS shop–use the menu on the left to refine your selection of goods.)

https://store.usps.com/store/browse/category.jsp?categoryId=shipping-supplies

If you are ordering supplies online, you might also need to know that there will be a small delay for supplies coming up soon so put in your order now!

From USPS:

“…orders placed Tuesday, July 21 (2015) through Sunday, July 26 will require an additional 3-5 business days for delivery.”

Hope that keeps you from running out of shipping supplies!


Can USPS open my mail?


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Ever wonder if the US postal service has the right to open your letters or your packages?

There are three times your packages run the risk of being opened while in transit through USPS:

1. International shipments–Customs has the right to inspect packages in the destination country. This doesn’t seem to happen too often for most online transactions where the seller has included the proper documentation with the package though some countries are stricter about it than others. Packages mailed into the US are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

2. USPS can open the following classes of mail to inspect them–basically to be sure you have shipped your goods via the right class of mail since these services receive discounted rates:

  • Periodicals items.
  • Standard Mail items.
  • Package Services (including Media Mail, Library Mail and Bound Printed Matter) items.
  • Standard Post
  • Parcel Select®
  • Incidental First-Class Mail attachments or enclosures mailed under DMM 703.9.
  • GXG items that contain non-documents.
  • Priority Mail International items except the Flat Rate envelope and small Flat Rate box.
  • M-bags.
  • Items sent via “Free Matter for the Blind or Other Physically Handicapped Person” under 39 U.S.C. §§ 3403–06 and IMM 270.
  • All other Domestic / International mail not specifically stated below.

USPS cannot open these classes, they are “closed against postal inspection”–see # 3 for exceptions to that:

  • First-Class Mail® items.
  • Priority Mail® items.
  • Priority Mail Express™ items.
  • Global Express Guaranteed® (GXG®) items that contain only documents.
  • Priority Mail Express International™ items.
  • Priority Mail International™ Flat Rate envelope and small Flat Rate box.
  • First-Class Package International Service items
  • First-Class Mail International items.
  • International Priority Airmail™ (IPA®) items, excluding IPA M-bags.
  • International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®) items, excluding ISAL M-bags.
  • Certain Global Direct™ (GD) mail.
  • International transit mail.

3. The US Postal Inspectors are like the police force for USPS. They can open any of the mail services, though if it’s one of the services in the “USPS cannot” list above, they get a search warrant to open letters/packages that they believe violate federal law.

Where can you see this info yourself from an official source?

On the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website here:

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/114

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/115

the USPS website here:

http://faq.usps.com/adaptivedesktop/faq.jsp?ef=USPSFAQ

and here on the US Postal Inspectors website, see #4:
https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/faq.aspx


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This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

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New USPS Rates for 2014

If you haven’t updated your shipping rates, now is the time! Find the new USPS rates on usps.com, they go into effect January 26, 2014

Download all the service info in one document with the rates on different tabs here:

http://pe.usps.com

On the left, select “Shipping Services Prices – Excel”
or “Shipping Services Prices – csv” depending on the program you use.

Download each service as a separate file here:

https://www.usps.com/new-prices.htm

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Etsy labels? Heads Up!

This is a good news / bad news post–be sure to read to the end.

Good news:

US sellers who aren’t using Direct Checkout can now use Etsy labels! I’m very excited to give these a try for our First Class International packages.

As fun as the stamps are using our current method for printing First Class International labels and getting the customs form submitted online (for free), I’ll also be pleased to have a smoother process for mailing our international Etsy orders.

Bad news:

If you’ve been using Etsy’s labels and haven’t been paying attention, you might be in for an unfortunate surprise.

When you print the label, sometimes it is not printing the label you see on the screen–sometimes it prints the previous label again… for some sellers these packages are already in the mail.

It’s been happening for at least a week now. One admin suggested the conflict is with FireFox, another post said FireFox and Windows 7. How ever it goes–be sure to check your label before mailing your package!

See a few posts on the topic here:

Scary Shipping label Problem – 6 Packages Sent to One Customer

On page 2 of the thread above Mocahete shares what’s been working to avoid this for them. More threads on the topic:

Serious Problems with Etsy Shipping Labels

Problem with shipping labels

Here’s hoping your packages all get to their intended destination without coming back to you first!

What is Self-Insurance?

GoToSupplies

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Since most packages arrive at their destination safely, many sellers choose to self-insure instead of purchasing insurance from the service they are shipping through or through third-party insurers (great for insuring International First Class when you need it since USPS doesn’t offer insurance on First Class International Mail). Some call it a rainy day fund, some just consider it part of their overhead.

How do you self insure?

Basically you build a little into your item price or shipping to cover your losses–say 25 or 50 cents–or whatever works out right for you/your item prices, then put that extra money aside to cover the few packages that go missing.

For example, if you have 1 in 100 packages go missing, raise your item prices or shipping by the cost of a missing item divided by 99 delivered packages and you should be good. For a $24 item:

$24.00 / 99 = about $0.25

That’s a real simple example, it won’t be as easy if your prices vary a lot, but should give you an idea of how it works. Even if you added $1 to every $24 item to cover the losses, your buyer would still be paying less than if you insured through the postal service. Another great benefit–you don’t have to file an insurance claim with anyone to wait to be re-imbursed. You have the money, you take care of your buyer, the end.

When do you self insure & when do you pay for insurance?

Every business has a different price point at which they need help covering the loss of an item. If you mostly sell $25 items but have a few that are far more expensive, you might choose to purchase insurance on the pricey items.

If you have a few that are especially delicate or irreplaceable, those might be ones to pay for insurance on, while if you whole business is delicate or irreplaceable items, you might just charge a bit more for your self-insurance.

Is self-insurance legal?

I have read a few times that self-insurance is illegal in some places, though I haven’t been able to find information about that when it comes to shipping–just car insurance, employee health insurance, that sort of thing.

To be on the safe side, we don’t mention insurance unless it is a package that we’ll purchase insurance for, from an extrernal insurer (like USPS, third party insurers, etc.)

More on purchasing insurance here, including information on third-party insurance:

Shipping Insurance

And more shipping help in general here–same as the gold link in the right sidebar of every blog page:

Shipping Basics

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This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

2012 USPS Holiday Shipping Deadlines

Christmas Decor: Stained Glass Noel Sign
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Time to consider what you’ll be setting for your holiday shipping cut-off dates.

Hanukkah starts Saturday, December 8, 2012, so you’ll need a pretty early cut off for those celebrating–unless their aiming for later in the week.

Christmas is on a Tuesday this year–might make it a bit tricky since that puts Christmas Eve on Monday… We’ll want all our Christmas-celebrating customers to get their packages by Saturday–just in case.

Domestic Mail
USPS suggests these as the last mail-by dates for Christmas deliveries for 2012:
Parcel Post: December 14
First Class Mail: December 20
Priority Mail: December 21
Express Mail: December 22

International Mail
USPS suggests these as the last mail-by dates for Christmas deliveries for 2012,
deadlines by mail service & country
Don’t forget–these timelines can change if your goods get stopped by customs.
The UK has been cracking down lately stopping more packages than normal. Germany requires all packages to include invoices attached to the outside of the package (see here for more). It probably wouldn’t hurt to do that for other countries too.
First Class International Mail:
December 3

Africa
Central & South America

December 10

All other countries

Priority Mail International:
December 3

Africa
Central & South America

December 10

Asia / Pacific Rim
Australia / New Zealand
Mexico

December 13

Canada
Caribbean
Europe
Middle East

Express Mail International:

December 11

Africa
Central & South America

December 15

Asia / Pacific Rim
Australia / New Zealand
Caribbean
Europe
Mexico
Middle East

December 17

Canada

Global Express Guaranteed Service:
December 18

Asia / Pacific Rim
Australia / New Zealand

December 19

Africa
Caribbean
Central & South America
Europe
Middle East

December 20

Canada
Mexico

"Eye" Q Test–What's Your Color IQ?



Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2012

Time for a little fun! How about a ‘color IQ test’? Move the color swatches into proper order:

http://xritephoto.com/ph_toolframe.aspx?action=coloriq

What’s your score? I got a 16–next time I’m going to brighten my monitor and see if I can do better. 🙂

Blog update: I recently updated the “Figuring Out Your Secondary Shipping Rates” post with details of how to account for the bump to Priority mail that shipping multiple items in the same package can trigger:

“Ship with another item” demystified:
Getting accurate secondary shipping rates doesn’t have to be difficult.

Etsy Shipping for Etsy Direct Checkout


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This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

If you’ve been frustrated by not having the easy Paypal shipping link* for your Direct Checkout orders, and have resorted to paying for a label service or copying & pasting the address into the blank shipping label form on Paypal/using the multi-label tool** you might be pleased to learn that US sellers who use Direct Checkout can ship domestic orders through Etsy now–after joining the Shipping Improvements Team:

Purchase & Print USPS Shipping Labels on Etsy

*Don’t have the shipping label link on your Paypal account overview page next to each Paypal transaction? Click here for how to get it to show:

Shipping Through Paypal

**Don’t know how to print Paypal labels without a Paypal transaction? See here for two different ways:

Shipping Through Paypal Without a Transaction

Shipping Update & a Feature for Our Shop

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! Just a little news here…

I just updated our Shipping page to include more of the relevant posts I’ve put up over the past few months–you can use the gold link in right side bar of every blog page to get to it.

To go with the fresh Shipping page, I’ve also started a new thread on Etsy for discussion if you need more help:

US Sellers: Shipping Basics–domestic & international shipping help

and lastly, I’m pleased to share that we’ve just been featured on the Etsy Handmade Team‘s new blog! We’re in this week’s

Friday Finds

Thanks to our team leaders for all the hard work & the site looks beautiful!

Can't find UK in USPS' Click-N-Ship? or when using Etsy labels?

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This post is copyrighted–you do not have permission to repost this content elsewhere but you are welcome to link to it if you’d like to share the information.

I see folks asking about this pretty often so I thought I’d put up a quick post:

If you can’t find the “UK” or United Kingdom as a destination in the free USPS program “Click-N-Ship for Business” (formerly the USPS Shipping Assistant) that we use to print our First Class International labels, the online USPS customs form maker, Click-N-Ship online label service (for Priority & faster) or when you’re using Etsy’s label feature, it’s because USPS uses the “Great Britain & Northern Ireland” instead:

For UK use Great Britain & Northern Ireland


USPS’ designation of Great Britain and Northern Ireland includes:

England
Scotland
Wales
Northern Ireland
Guernsey
Jersey
Alderney
Sark
the Isle of Man

See it here on the USPS website.

Hope that makes your next UK mailing a little less stressful. 🙂

Go To Great Panes, Kathryn Maloney ©2012