Logistics has always been a tricky affair. Right from the start, when the product gets picked up to the point when it is delivered to the customer. There is a multitude of things to keep in mind while handling operations.
For a budding eCommerce entrepreneur, there are many things to take note of, understand and execute for shipping. In their long list of to-do’s, like selecting the suitable carrier, shipping labels may not be the top priority. But without a shipping label, no journey can commence.
While there are multiple shipping and postal companies, no one can replace the United States Postal Service. USPS highlights that an efficient and well-connected logistics network is necessary for entire nations.
Delivery of goods is no longer a luxury but an essential public service. USPS has given eCommerce retailers, especially SMBs, an affordable and reliable shipping partner.
If you are enthusiastic about shipping with USPS but lack an adequate understanding of USPS shipping labels, then this article is the solution!
2) What is a Shipping Label, and why is it essential in eCommerce shipping?
The US Postal Service labels are a subset of what, in logistics, we generally refer to as a shipping label. A shipping label is a document that holds key information for the successful delivery of the parcel.
Now, different carriers have different formats for shipping labels. However, in general, they have the following data. Starting with the origin or return address and destination address of the customer. Included are the postal code and address details like street, city, and country.
Next in line are package weight, quantity, and shipping method, whether it is priority mail, standard or international. Then there is the tracking number and shipping barcode. In international shipments, the shipping label may specify the enclosed item.
The different components of a shipping label, like postal barcode and tracking number, are read by machines facilitating a smooth shipping process. Moreover, the shipping label also includes postage information if it is paid or requires payment from the recipient.
These details point out how important a shipping label is for inbound and outbound logistics. A shipping label accurately directs your package to its intended recipient and back to your warehouse if it is returned. Herein lies its importance in eCommerce shipping.
3) What is USPS?
The United States Postal Service, USPS for short, is a postal agency owned by the United States Government. Its main responsibilities are carrying out postal and delivery services in the United States and its insular areas.
Unlike private carriers, USPS reaches every address in the US, delivering to over 160 million locations throughout the country. It also has a significant international presence, promoting cross-border trade from the United States. It delivers to over 180 countries across the globe.
4) USPS Shipping Labels
The USPS shipping label fulfills the same purpose as a regular shipping label, i.e., it carries information the carriers need to make the final delivery.
The USPS shipping labels have a standard format except for the different logos designating the chosen shipping method. For example, the shipping label of Priority Mail will have “P” printed on the top left corner.
USPS has an in-built tool called the Click-N-Ship Service to ease the process of creating and printing shipping labels. The tool enables you to pay for postage, print shipping labels, and schedule package pick-up or drop-off.
These labels are available for almost all mail classes, such as Priority Mail, Express Mail, and Global Airmail Parcel Post. In most cases, postage is included.
Now, for the actual process of creating the shipping label, you will first need to create an account with USPS. Once done, you can proceed with the following steps:
First, fill in your return address details like name, or company name, street address, city, postal code, email, etc. Similarly, fill in your destination address details. You also get the option to start a batch shipping to multiple addresses and add delivery instructions or messages.
Second, you enter the shipping date and package details like its weight and value. If you have USPS Flat Rate Packages, you can choose the flat rate option or enter the actual weight.
Third, you select the service type. USPS has a chart with all the details for your convenience. Tracking and insurance are automatically included. You can additionally opt for signature services for an added charge.
After this step, the shipping label is finalized. After ensuring the details are accurate, you can pay for it and print it from your office or home printer.
5) What are the different USPS Shipping Services?
The US Postal Service has a list of standard and express mail and parcel shipping services. Each has its benefits and postage cost. Shipping labels in USPS are free, but you pay for postage.
Therefore, we have accumulated the list of USPS shipping services and the associated cost of shipping labels.
5.1) Priority Mail Express
This is the fastest domestic shipping method of USPS. It guarantees shipment delivery within the next day or two business days.
You can choose the option that best fits your shipping needs. Postage starts at $27.25, and for commercial shippers, it begins at $23.75.
The highlight of the service is that it's available all around the year and seven days a week. If you opt for the next-day option, you can also get a money-back guarantee if your parcel does not arrive by 6 p.m.
Priority Mail supports both flat rate and variable pricing. If you opt for the flat-rate envelope, you can ship anything under 70 lbs. Included in the service are USPS tracking and signature confirmation.
5.2) Priority Mail
Priority Mail is USPS’s most sought-after shipping service. Domestic shipments are usually delivered between one and three business days, depending on the shipping zone.
A range of pricing options is available for the Priority Mail service, including flat rate, regional, and prepaid. There are free packaging boxes available.
Tracking is included in this package. There are no surcharges for fuel, residential addresses, or Saturday delivery.
The Post Office and online price starts at $9.00, while the commercial rate begins at $7.42.
5.3) First-Class Mail
This service is ideal for standard, single-piece envelopes weighing up to 3.5 oz and large envelopes or smaller packages weighing below 13 oz. The shipping time is usually between one and five business days.
The price range depends on two sizes: standard or square and oversized. The standard-sized letters and postcard postage starts at $0.60 and $0.44, respectively.
Similarly, the price for oversized letters and postcards starts at $0.99 and $0.60. For large envelopes, the price is $1.20, while a small package costs $4.80.
5.4) USPS Retail Ground
This is an economic service for shipping oversized and non-critical parcels. The shipping time ranges between two and five business days.
The maximum weight limit of the package is 70 lbs, and the DIM weight limit is 1,728 cubic inches.
The postage can be bought only in USPS Post Offices, beginning at $8.80.
5.5) USPS Media Mail
Media Mail is an affordable way to ship media and educational parcels like books, manuscripts, sound recordings, etc. It usually takes two to eight business days to ship the products.
The price range is $3.49 for the Post Office and $2.17 for commercial shippers.
6) Things to Consider Before Creating USPS Shipping Labels
To create shipping labels, all you need to do is to buy Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express postage for the packaging. Before making any decisions, you might want to compare prices and service types.
While not necessary, the prudent option would be to properly weigh the packages before generating USPS shipping labels. This can be done easily using a scale.
This is because if the weight turns out to be more than mentioned, you might have to pay additional USPS postage charges.
Alternatively, you can use the Flat Rate envelopes instead, which allow you to mail any weight that fits inside the box or envelope. The charges range from a low fee of $4.05 to $14.40.
Payments for these can be made using a card, and the labels can be quickly printed at home using a personal computer and printer.
If required, customers can also print Click-N- Ship labels without postage. The Click-N-Ship service will automatically find the ZIP codes and calculate the postage charges.
You can calculate the required prices per postage and shipment weight, and then a label will be generated.
You can add any insurance if needed or any additional delivery instructions or services you might require.
Next up, you can easily print the generated labels at home, as expressed below.
7) How to print USPS shipping Labels?
To print USPS shipping labels at home, you will need a printer, a personal computer, and a free USPS account if you don’t have one.
Enter the package’s ship-to address and weight. Alternatively, opt for the Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes.
By default, tracking facilities are turned on, and there is usually a fee of $50 per package for insurance purposes.
If the shipment is to be sent internationally, you must complete the customs documentation.
The label is then created. Once you have made the payment, you can print it within minutes.
With the label printed, you will want to schedule a pickup time for the package.
If you’re not near your computer, you can also visit the site on your smartphone or tablet and create the label there. Once the label is created, you can pay for it and send it to your printer.
8) USPS Shipping Label Broker
If you are away from home or do not have access to a printer, you can easily use the USPS Label Broker service. It works by providing customers with a QR code and a Label Broker ID.
Busy customers can use the QR code to access the labels printed by USPS associates right at the Post Office location. This is especially convenient when the customer is ready to send the shipment.
If they choose not to print at the post office, they can also print the labels themselves from USPS.com when they can access a printer.
9) Why do People use USPS?
Many things set USPS apart from other carriers or delivery agencies. The most obvious difference is that it is a federal organization operated by the US Government. However, it also provides many benefits that draw customers towards USPS to use its services:-
9.1) Free Pickup
USPS allows customers to set their convenient pickup times for packages free of cost.
They can easily schedule a time for the parcel to be picked up from their doorstep. The caveat is that at least one of the packages being picked up should be using a USPS expedited service, such as Priority Mail.
9.2) Delivery to Military Addresses
USPS allows customers to send shipments or mail to military addresses worldwide, and that too at subsidized domestic rates. However, they require a customs form so the package reaches the correct location without being held back.
9.3) Tracking Facilities
USPS has also begun to use technology to maintain records of shipments and allow customers to track them easily. They can now check the delivery progress via phone or text at the click of a button.
9.4) Discounted Rates
Given its popularity, USPS has agreements with numerous logistics platforms to offer discounted rates up to a certain volume or quantity of shipments.
9.5) Free Supplies
USPS allows customers to use free supplies, such as envelopes, stamps, stickers, labels, and even boxes. This service is usually availed only when sending shipments through certain classes of mail.
USPS offers a very convenient postal service, namely USPS Click-N-Ship. It offers hassle-free international shipping. The shipments can be shipped directly from the home or office.
Click-N-Ship offers free boxes, envelopes, printable customs documentation, and shipping labels. In this article, we have already read about the feature of creating and printing labels.
Many countries own and operate their own official postal or delivery companies, which operate at low or subsidized rates for the public's good. The United States Postal Service is one such company.
In this article, we quickly looked at USPS and how it manages shipping labels. Customers have a lot of choices when it comes to the way they choose to generate or print USPS shipping labels.
They can either opt for flat-rate mail classes or pay as per weight. They can print by themselves at home or use the Label Broker to print directly at the post office.
Best of all, most of these services are done at a relatively nominal charge. USPS is a solid choice if you want a reliable channel to send a quick shipment domestically and internationally.
11.1) What is the size of the USPS Shipping Labels?
USPS follows the standard size of 4x6 inches that you can print using any standard-sized piece of paper. However, USPS also allows 6x3 inches for occasions when the former size is not feasible.
11.2) Is the USPS Shipping Label free of cost?
No. While you don’t have to pay for printing the shipping label, you certainly pay for the postage.
The shipping cost is determined by the package weight, shipping service selected shipping distance, and added services. You can use the USPS shipping calculator to determine the exact cost first, then print the shipping label.
11.3) Where can I print the USPS Shipping Labels?
USPS has mainly two options for printing shipping labels.
You can first access their Click-N-Ship tool on their website. After completing the form online and completing the payment, your label is created. You can easily print it from your home or office printer.
If you lack a printer, you can opt for their Label Broker service. Here, you can print your labels from any nearby Post Office.
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