Thursday, September 6, 2007

Click-N-Ship



One of the best kept secrets in the government is the new USPS Click-N-Ship services. Advantages are listed below, and USPS offers a lot of shipping materials for FREE!

So if you love to hate the "backwards" U.S. Post Office, it's time for you to give it another look. That's particularly true if you, your small business, or home business are shipping small to medium sized packages on a regular basis.

The USPS's new online system, Click-N-Ship, offers these features:
  • No Stamps--print professional looking barcoded shipping labels WITH paid postage on your inkjet or laser printer
  • No Standing in Line--FREE USPS residential or business carrier pick-up, scheduled online (for unattended pick-up, just tell the carrier online where to find the package-- e.g. front porch under chair, watch out for spider) For added security, you may also drop your package in any mailbox or at any post office
  • print barcoded mailing labels using plain paper (tape to package) or buy custom USPS self-adhesive labels online
  • pay online using secure credit card processing technology
  • pay cash--if you don't pay by credit card you can print the label and then deliver the package and label to a post office to pay cash
  • buy additional parcel insurance online or request delivery signature confirmation
  • multiple mailing options presented online and their costs. Just select the one that suits your needs.
  • FREE online address book for routine correspondents (with USPS database generated address and zip code checking, correcting and formatting for machine scanning)
  • FREE online package tracking and shipping history
  • FREE e-mail notification of shipping (to recipient) and delivery (for you)
  • FREE USPS Priority/Express Mail boxes, envelopes, and tubes delivered to your house
  • FREE USPS Express and Priority Mail stickers and tape
  • Flate Rate envelopes and boxes will ship up to 70 pounds for a single rate
  • e-mail receipt for every charge to your credit card
  • Batch Orders, print several shipping labels at a time, and have only one credit card charge for the batch
Of course, you can use your own boxes, but the USPS boxes give your merchandise a very professional look that your customers will notice. Order FREE and for fee items online here: USPS Store.

You don't need an official USPS scale, but you will need a fairly accurate scale of some sort. If you don't have an accurate scale, you can purchase an electronic USPS scale for very little--NOTE: under postage packages will be either returned for more postage or delivered postage due, depending on the amount underpaid. Neither makes your operation appear professional to your customer, so accuracy is important to avoid embarrassment.

There are a few downsides, but not many:
  • if you elect unattended pick-up, you are responsible for the package until the postal delivery folks actually have the package in their hands (they'll leave a hand receipt in your post box)
  • this service is for domestic deliveries, mostly. There is little support for international deliveries, where the rules are much different
  • I screwed up and forgot my USPS account password and couldn't, after several requests, have the problem resolved on-line. I ended up creating a new account under my wife's name
So give Click-N-Ship a try. I found it most competitive when compared against the prices of UPS and FedEx. The FREE (did I mention most of the boxes and envelopes were FREE?) shipping materials helped make it cost effective and easy to use.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

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