Why You Should Be Buying Postage Online
So you've started a business online. Congratulations! It's hard work, but having your own online business can be very fun and rewarding.
Whether you're using a personal website, ebay, Etsy, Amazon, or any other venue, when selling physical items (as opposed to digital items such as downloads), shipping is an unavoidable part of the process. Purchases must be securely packed, addressed, and put into the postal system, so that they get to their new owner as quickly and safely as possible.
Most people think of a trip to the post office when they imagine this process, but most e-commerce sites make it easy to buy and print postage labels from your own home. Some people are intimidated by this, but there are many advantages to print-at-home postage that make it worthwhile!
The biggest advantage is monetary. Most commerce sites give you a discount on postage if you buy it online through their site. The rates can be significantly discounted, and the extra cost is instantly taken off before the label is purchased. For example, 3 oz package gets a discount of about 60 cents. It may not sound like much at first, but as sales volume increases, the discount can add up a savings of many dollars very quickly.
There are sometimes other financial advantages as well. For example, Etsy has an agreement with the postal service that raises the weight limit on first class packages. Usually the cut off is 13 oz; more than that, and the package is instantly upgraded to priority mail, with an associated jump in price. Because of their agreement, Etsy sellers can send packages up to 15.9 oz as first class instead of priority. Again, the savings will add up quickly!
Many platforms offer additional free items, such as free tracking or delivery confirmation as well.
Another big advantage to printing your own postage is the services that are performed for you. When manually shipping an item, you must buy tracking, mark the item as shipped, upload the tracking number, and possibly send a notification to the buyer so they know their purchase is on its way. All of this is avoided when you buy online!
When you purchase a label online, the system will automatically do these things for you. An email will be sent informing the buyer that their item has shipped and is on its way. The tracking number is uploaded to your records (and sometimes included in the customer's email as well), so it can be easily clicked on to check the shipment's progress. And the shipping date is uploaded to the website, so they know you've fulfilled your duty in shipping your products, which will add credibility to your business.
This saves a lot of time and effort, and enables you to focus your attention on other things that need to be done.
No post office
Manually buying postage requires a trip to a local post office. Depending on your location, this can be a significant expenditure of time and fuel. Getting to the facility, standing in line, interacting with the clerk, and making the trip home can take more time than you might think. And if your business becomes successful, you could potentially be doing it every day! Time spent driving and standing in line is time that can't be devoted to working on your products and growing your business.
When postage in printed at home, these trips are completely avoided. It takes only moments to plug in the information and spit out the label. Then you simply attach the pre printed label, which has everything on it required to ship, and put it in your mailbox. Done!
There are several options available for printing the labels. The old fashioned way is to use a regular printer and copy paper. The label will print in ink, then you simply cut it out and attach it to the package with clear tape.
Another option is to use a thermal label printer. These printers are smaller than an all-purpose ink printer, and are usually specialized to print address labels or other specific formats. Instead of ink, they use heat that "burns" writing onto labels made specifically for this purpose.
There are advantages to each method. Regular ink printing requires little upfront cost, since you probably already have a printer and a stack of paper handy. The downside is that it takes extra effort to manually cut out and tape the labels. Thermal printers require an upfront cost to buy the machine (most are in the $150-200 range), and special labels must be purchased. The advantage is time savings - it takes only seconds to print the label and slap it on a package. For high volume businesses, the ease and time savings are well worth the cost of the machine!
One of the advantages to running your own business is that you have control over your methods and practices. I've found that buying postage online is much faster, easier, and less expensive that traditional mailing. Give it a try, you might revolutionize your business!
© 2015 Karen