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  1. #1
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    Default USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    I have a couple of questions about USPS that the USPS site doesn't seem to have simple or easy to find answers for... I didn't know where else to put this thread, so please feel free to move it, mods, if it's in the wrong place.

    First off, I doubt my sales will ever be enough to justify a Stamps.com account. So that's out, please don't suggest it. Apparently the USPS website will let you print postage, but the way I ship is almost exclusively in bubble mailer envelopes, First Class Mail ($1.95 to most places)... and whenever I try to use the USPS print postage thing, it says First Class is unavailable. Is there a trick I'm missing? Is there a way to print the $1.95 shipping label for First Class mail and I'm missing it?

    Next... I'm considering giving customers the option to add tracking to their orders. I think I'd do this as an "Attributes" thing for each product--unless someone has a reason I haven't thought of why that's a stupid idea. I'd mention that they only need to select it for one item in their order. Anyway, what exactly is the USPS First Class Mail tracking option? I've seen delivery confirmation, but not tracking when I've looked it up. But I know I've gotten receipts from the post office before with a tracking number on them that I can look up on their website. The Post Office is closed right now or I'd be calling them with these questions, by the way.

    So anyway, what does the USPS offer in terms of tracking, for First Class Mail? And what does it cost (I'm selling lip balm--my shipments are very small)? I've got the figure 75cents rattling around in my head but I don't know where it came from.

    Is offering the option of tracking a good idea or not worth it? Am I going to be able to print First Class postage from the USPS website or not? If I do, can I add tracking to that or is that a post-office-only kind of thing?

    I know this is all USPS and not Zen Cart stuff, but I figure there are a lot of people here who know a lot more about the USPS than I do, so you're a good lot to ask... thanks for listening.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    Hey look at me answering my own questions! I decided to call a post office in Arizona (I'm from there, and they're 3 hours earlier than we are, so the post offices are still open) and it turns out that when you look up a post office location on the USPS website, you get one phone number for the whole postal service, not a direct number to a given post office. Who knew? Anyway, I called and found out some things. I'll post them here in case anyone in the future wonders the same things I did.

    1) First Class Mail postage is NOT offered online. At all, period, for any reason, isn't happening. The lady didn't know why.
    2) It's almost $3 to get Registered (or was it Certified?) mail added to First Class Mail, which is the closest thing to tracking that First Class offers. When my customers are buying $3 lip balms, I doubt they're going to pay an extra $3 just to be able to make sure it's been delivered. Not worth it.
    3) Moving up to Priority Mail, you get a better value. For my bubble mailers (4" x 8" about 1.5oz or so) if I print the postage online it's $5.14, and comes with free delivery confirmation, which gives you a sort of tracking number which lets you look online and see if it's been shipped yet and if it's been delivered, but doesn't do any along-the-way type of tracking. It sounded like printing it online is the only way I can do Priority Mail with my own bubble mailers (which I already have, so I'm dang sure going to use them)... if I go to the Post Office it sounds like I have to use thier Priority Mail envelopes. Also I think the postage is more if I do it at the physical branch.

    All in all I think it's not worth it to add the Registered/Certified option for First Class shipping as it's just such a poor value considering the cost of the product. I think I'll just make a note that if they choose Priority Mail (which I do offer as an option) that it does come with tracking of sorts, so if they want that, they should choose Priority Mail.

    I have another question about USPS shipping (the order the options are listed in and which one is selected by default), but I think it has to do with the module and so I'll ask it in that thread instead.

    Anyway, this thread can be closed or marked as solved or whatever if you guys do that kind of thing around here. Too bad my idea of calling a different time zone (even though it turned out to be a national number--that's what got me to it) didn't occur to me before I made the original post. Oh well, that's what you get for being impatient with lots of questions. Move along...

  3. #3
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    Delivery confirmation is available for 1st class mail if the class of "greater than 3/4" thick envelopes" or "Packages" is used. Letters or Thick envelopes 1/4"-3/4" thick do not have that option available. (but not printable via USPS Click-N-Ship online"

    First Class Mail
    Delivery confirmation tracking included @ NC
    $1.64 up to 3 ounces
    $1.81 4 ounces
    $1.98 5 ounces

    We use this for our Size 0 and 00 bubble mailers all the time.

    The savings in being able to print this postage can easily justify an online postage service by breaking even after about half dozen first class labels instead of priority labels per month.

    It does become a bit more critical that your products have appropriate weight assigned so that postage is calculated correctly and customers can't choose first class when over 13 ounces (including the packaging).

    Priority mail labels used on your own packaging are slightly more expensive than FlatRate priority mail labels used on USPS provided boxes or USPS provided FlatRate bubble envelopes. They'll ship all of those to you so all you have to do is print the labels and toss the package into any USPS blue receptacle.
    Rick
    C hain Weav ers (dot) com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    Thanks for the info!
    My dad says that his Stamps.com application lets him add tracking to First Class shipments for very cheap--does anyone know more details about that? He says I can use his Stamps.com account--we can share it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    See my post above yours. That's quoted directly from my Stamps.com account but you indicated that you didn't want to hear the words Stamps.com

    You've got to select "packages" not letters to have access to the delivery/tracking confirmation and is provided @ no charge or $0.19 per package.

    Labels are printed on your choice of plain paper or your choice of approved, self adhesive labels.

    Don't forget to check the weight of your products (in fractional pounds) so that the proper amount of postage charges is added to the zencart order.

    Also, don't forget to change the Return Address info within the Stamps.com account when you print postage unless you are in the same zipcode.
    Rick
    C hain Weav ers (dot) com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    I don't want my own Stamps.com account--I don't think my sales would justify the expense. But my dad says I can piggyback on his, so that's ok. I didn't think of that option until after I'd written that first post. And no, we're not even in neighboring states, let alone the same zip code! Good to know that I have to change the zip code (and then change it back!!! MUST NOT FORGET!!)... when it prints postage, does it print a return address? Because I have return address labels already...

    Do you happen to know what labels are "approved"? (Like what Avery label number, or whatever?)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    You will be printing entire shipping label with Postage; Return address, ship to address, class of shipping, barcode(s), etc.. That's a USPS requirement. Postage without addresses cannot be printed for anything other than firstclass stamps.

    You can purchase sheets of adhesive, blank 8.5 x 11 labels, 2 per sheet. You can also select any of the Stamps.com labels, use plain paper and fasten to your envelopes with clear boxing tape. We like the 4 x 5 inch, 4 to the page label format (Stamps.com # 4650)

    Also, the email confirmations will be from your Dad's account info, address, email, etc.
    Rick
    C hain Weav ers (dot) com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    All good stuff to know. I think I'd have to go with the 4x5 inch as well, unless they come smaller... my envelopes are only 4x8!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: USPS shipping question... (printing online and delivery confirmation/tracking)

    There's also a selectable option for 2 x 7.5 inch labels, 4 to the page. Print on plain paper and tape.
    Rick
    C hain Weav ers (dot) com

 

 

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