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Which Online Postage Service is For You?

Considerations for which approach works best for your online business needs

One of the greatest benefits to selling online is the autonomy it affords us. You choose your hours, your costs and your workload. There are also many benefits to buying your postage from an online postage service, one of which is the fact that you save time and gas money by not driving to the post office and waiting in line.

By purchasing your postage online, you have access to discounts, and you can schedule when you want the carrier to pick up your packages. Yet there are several approaches to accessing that postage online, and deciding which one is right for you takes just a little consideration.

First, you should understand your business needs. If you’re new to selling online or if you’re genuinely on a tight budget, the best approach may be the free one. However, if you want to do all your shipping from your home or office, you must invest in a scale to weigh your packages and a laser or high-quality ink jet printer.

Here is a look at three different approaches to using an online postage service.

When you’re ready to print your label(s), you pay for the postage with your credit card or PayPal account

Using your shipping carrier

Purchasing postage for the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS online is cost-free and hassle-free—for the most part. When you’re ready to purchase postage and print your shipping label, just log in to your preferred shipping account and enter all the necessary details, such as destination, weight and the type of delivery service you want.

The USPS Click-N-Ship resource is easy to navigate and has a simple form for filling in address information, package weight and dimensions, and choosing the right shipping option for your package. You can only use Click-N-Ship for Priority and Express Mail services, but they include discounts and free delivery confirmation.

The online service also lets you order free supplies, purchase insurance and signature confirmation, and schedule a pickup for your package. When you’re ready to print your label(s), you pay for the postage with your credit card or PayPal account.

FedEx and UPS provide similar online services to USPS, though the shipping costs may be higher. FedEx and UPS online offer discounts and require a credit card on file for payments. If you are a relatively high-volume shipper and dedicated to FedEx or UPS, these two carriers also offer a variety of tools that let you integrate their services with your Web business.

Third-party services

There are many popular third-party services for buying postage online, such as Stamps.com and Endicia. These types of services charge a monthly fee that generally ranges between $10 and $35.

With these paid services, you have access to USPS discounts, plus the ability to buy postage for their other shipping services, like First Class and Media Mail. You can also order supplies, add insurance and purchase other services, such as Certified Mail.

FedEx and UPS tend to have higher shipping rates, but their online services include a more integrated experience for your business needs

Although access to private carrier postage is limited to none with these services, perhaps one of the greatest values for your money is how they integrate with your business. For example, Stamps.com can be managed along with your QuickBooks, address books and e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon, making your business that much more productive.

Your Web services

If you sell online and use services like eBay, Etsy, PayPal or an eBay listing service such as Auctiva, you can use any of these to purchase your postage needs when a sale has been processed. These options are efficient because the shipping addresses are automatically prepared. All you have to do is enter the weight, choose a shipping service and schedule a pickup.

Many of these platforms offer USPS discounts, plus discounted insurance, other services and access to UPS shipping. They are efficient for the low- to medium-volume seller who primarily sells online using one or more of these platforms.

Managing your shipping needs online directly through your preferred shipping carrier doesn’t add to your costs, but sometimes it has its limitations. FedEx and UPS tend to have higher shipping rates, but their online services also include a much more integrated experience for your business needs.

Third-party online postage services come with an expense, but may be worth it for high-volume sellers who have more than one online shop and need a variety of shipping services.

Which online postage service is best for you?

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Great article Sarah! Based on our experience with ecommerce stores, it’s most definitely worth paying the higher shipping rates. ShipStation integrate seamlessly with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and and they make is extremely easy to manage your entire shipping process!

  • Kameelyon

    “Which online postage service is best for you?” is the title of the column and the question posed to me at the end yet nothing in the article helps me answer the question. I thought that was why I was reading the article!

  • not completly accurate you CAN use first class with click and ship through e-bay and paypal.

    • RR

      No, the article is accurate: it is referring to the usps.com Click-N-ship service, where you CANNOT do 1st class (or media mail or parcel post). You can do those things with paypal and ebay, but that is not the same as being able to do it on the usps.com site.



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