5 Strategies for Mailing and Shipping

The cost of a first class stamp today is 49 cents; it was 37 cents 10 years ago. That's an increase of nearly 33%! If you need to send information or items to customers or others, choose the best method for the purpose at hand.

Here are 5 strategies to help you.

1.     Don't mail information.
Avoid the cost and hassle of mailing reports, contracts, invoices, and other "written" materials. This can be done more easily by computer or mobile devices.
Recognize that inked signatures are not necessary. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN), enacted in 2000, recognizes the validity of contracts signed electronically; states also have laws recognizing e-signed documents.
2.     Use scales and discounts.
If you must send something by mail, use a scale so you don't overpay for postage. For example, Stamps.com gives you a digital scale when you enroll in its program. You can then print out the exact postage required.
If you do direct mail, consider bulk mailing to obtain discounts. Find out whether bulk mail makes sense for you with information from the U.S. Postal Service.
3.     Take advantage of USPS services.
The U.S. Postal Service offers small businesses a variety of services that can reduce the direct and indirect costs of mailing and shipping:
  • Free pickup for packages -- you can schedule pickup times in certain instances.
  • Intelligent mail small business (IMsb) barcoding for discounted rates if you do direct marketing.
  • Order supplies, such as special boxes, online.
Check the USPS' Business Services Gateway for more information.
4.     Pick the right private carrier.
You may want or need to use FedEx, UPS, or another private carrier instead of the post office. How to choose? Check for:
  • Costs, including the cost of insurance
  • Delivery time options
  • Delivery locations (some carriers may not service certain foreign locations)
5.     Do a shipping audit.
If you send several shipments every month, it's estimated that between 5% and 10% do not arrive at their scheduled time. This means you're overpaying for service you didn't receive. Consider using a private shipping audit service to recoup overpayments. Typically there's no upfront charge to you; you pay a percentage of the recovery (e.g., 50%). You can start by investigating some of the audit companies listed below (I've never used any of them so check with the Better Business Bureau before making your decision):
Mailing and shipping may not represent a substantial part of your budget. But however much you can trim these costs is money in your pocket!

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