It doesn’t take much to overspend on shipping these days – especially if you aren’t taking advantage of flat rate services through the USPS.
Designed to streamline shipping prices significantly, a lot of people are either unaware or unsure of how much they can save when they use flat rate services. In the end, they go with a more “a la cart” approach and end up spending a whole lot more money than they should have – all for the same shipping speeds and services.
But that’s why this detailed guide was put together.
Below we dig right into the ins and outs of using flat rate services, how to make sure you’re saving as much money as possible, and how to move through the whole flat rate shipping process from start to finish.
There’s a lot to like about all that the flat rate solutions have to offer. But we’ll get into that in just a little bit.
Are You Spending Too Much on Shipping?
There are a couple of different ways to know that you’re spending too much money on shipping, and the first is if you’re not using flat rate services at all in the first place.
As we made mention of earlier, there are plenty of folks out there that are unaware of how easy – and cheap – it is to use flat rate shipping services rather than taking a more “one off” approach to sending packages and parcels.
Some folks might be under the impression that flat rate is more of a barebones shipping approach, others might think that it’s going to take to look to get to the final destination, and others till might (incorrectly) assume that flat rate offers are going to somehow be more expensive.
Luckily for you though, by the time we wrap up this guide, you won’t have to worry about falling for those misconceptions any longer.
Another reason you might be spending more for shipping is that your packing materials are too heavy or too expensive.
A lot of people find themselves overpacking because they want to be sure that their items get to their ultimate destination safely and in one piece. Because of modern packing materials you can usually use a lot less packing supplies than you might have in the past.
You still want to be sure you’re protecting and securing things as best you can – but you want to be sure that you’re not overstuffing or overpacking (at least as much as possible, anyway).
All of those overpacking issues disappear when you use flat rate solutions, however. You can wrap and stuff and pack anything and everything into those boxes. And as long as they fit you’ll be good to go. This is one of the reason so many people are starting to move towards these kinds of services, and one of the biggest reasons people are saving so much money on shipping options.
When you get right down to it, there are a lot of things that can cause your shipping costs to go through the roof. This is doubly true if you’re sending a lot of stuff through the mail and the little fees are adding up.
With flat rate, though, you cut out a lot of the potential for those fees and costs to keep creeping. Instead you have a chance to deal with almost fixed pricing structures that simplify, streamline, and make life sending things through the mail as effortless as possible.
How Exactly Does Flat Rate Shipping Work with the USPS?
USPS flat rate boxes guarantee that – if your item fits – you’ll be able to send it anywhere in the US (including Alaska and Hawaii) for one low price. On top of that, you get instant upgrades to Priority Mail access, which means your boxes will get where you want them to go within one to three business days, too.
You will have to use the flat rate boxes provided to you by the USPS, though.
These boxes are labeled and branded as USPS flat rate boxes and are available at any of the post offices throughout the country. The boxes themselves are available free of charge, without restriction, and you can request as many of them as you’d like.
The beauty of going to the post office and getting these boxes yourself is that you’ll be able to find the right box for the price. You can talk with the folks at the office to find the right size for the things you’re shipping and they might even be able to help you find an option that can help you save some money along the way, too.
You can also get these packing supplies from the USPS delivered to you directly after ordering them online, too.
All of you have to do is jump on the USPS website to order the flat rate boxes that you’d like (again, you can get as many as you like sent to you at no extra charge) to use with these services. You can reach out to the USPS customer service for some help in finding the right solutions, though they may not be able to help you quite as much as going directly to the post office could.
The only thing you’ll need to pay attention to with flat rate shipping is that there is a weight limit. As of the later half of 2020, the weight limit was 70 pounds per flat rate box across the board. This has been changed a couple of times in the past and may be adjusted in the future.
You’ll also need to be able to fold, tape, and close the boxes as normal to send a flat rate service through the mail.
A Quick Rundown of the 2020 USPS Flat Rate Prices
Depending on the size of the box or envelope you’re sending through the flat rate arrangement, you’ll end up spending between $7.75 per piece or $19.60 at the two extremes.
There are a couple of different options in between those two extremes, but you almost never will spend more than $20 to get your flat rate box out the door and to your destination.
The thing that’s going to make your shipping with flat rate more expensive is adding on different options and more features, some of which we’re going to get into in just a little bit.
This is a bit of a mixed bag for some people.
On the one hand, you’re going to be able to save big when you go in this direction just be the nature of the flat rate shipping.
On the other hand, though, it doesn’t take very much to start adding things to the finished price. Before you know it, you’re spending more money than expected and the benefits of flat rate services diminish.
How Do I Take Advantage of USPS Flat Rate Shipping Options?
The whole process for using flat rate mail is very easy and very straightforward.
The first step is getting your hands on the box you need to go use flat rate services This is going to involve popping down to the post office or having boxes sent to you from the USPS website. All of the local offices have boxes of every size available and envelopes, too. A quick question at the main desk should have all of the boxes you need in your hands ASAP – and without spending a penny
From there, you need to pack the things you’d like to send via the flat rate service.
Keep in mind that you can load the box as much as you want up to 70 pounds full, including packing materials. Any higher than that and you’ll have to pay overages (which can get pretty steep in a hurry, so do try and keep under that limit).
Because you’re dealing with a flat rate box and not dimensional shipping, it’s always a good idea to get a larger box than you actually need. This gives you space for packing materials (peanuts, foam, etc) and should guarantee that you keep everything nice and safe during transit.
Before folding up and taping the box, though, do a quick test run. The USPS will not accept any flat rate box that cannot close “naturally” without charging you extra, too.
This means that all flaps have to lay flat, without any bumps or protrusions. Again, it’s a good idea to oversize just to make sure than even the oddest shaped items you want to send are going to work with no difficulty.
The next piece of the puzzle is to figure out how you’d like to have your merchandise shipped from your home or office.
You could always choose to have the box dropped off at the post office yourself (or by someone close to you), but you could also have a local pickup arranged as well. Not all local post offices are going to offer local pickup services though, so this is something to ask about before you make your final plans.
Before you let the box go out the door, though, be sure to confirm that the label has been addressed as outlined exactly by the post office themselves. There are preprinted labels you can download online as well as an online form you can fill out to have the information input for you.
As always, a quick trip to the local post office will guarantee you get all the help you need from postal officials. They can take all the delivery information from you directly, input it correctly, and have the label printed and affixed with no trouble at all.
How Do I Confirm Delivery for My Flat Rate Deliveries?
One of the important add-ons you’ll want to consider is the Delivery Confirmation add-on, an option for flat rate that works just like Certified or Registered mail (at least from a confirmation standpoint, anyway).
This is available for a floating fee that adjusts depending on whether your want extra insurance, COA, and other options added on as well.
Tracking services are available totally free of charge with every flat rate shipment, though, so you don’t have to worry about spending any extra there.
The Easiest Way to Manage Your Mail
While the USPS does a great job for the most part, especially with flat rate shipping options, there are a lot of areas that they struggle with – particularly when it comes to managing all of your mail needs in the modern world.
But that’s where US Global Mail comes into play,
Offering a total suite of Virtual Mailbox services, US Global Mail is one of the most trusted and reliable alternative mail handling companies in the industry today.
Not only will you be able to handle and manage all of your outgoing (and ingoing) flat rate packages, but you’ll also be able to manage the rest of your mail as well. We’re talking about having each new piece scanned and digitized for your records, each new piece available to be opened and/or forwarded to any address of your choosing (much of it automated), and so much more.
These Virtual Mailbox services also allow you to use a traditional street address for your mailing address as opposed to a PO Box from the USPS. That address can work as your “permanent mailing address” no matter how often you move – including if you move or travel for long durations overseas.
At the end of the day, if you need a more robust solution to all of your mailbox needs, US Global Mail is worth a closer look. All you have to do to get more information about the full range of services they provide (as well as pricing details) is to contact them directly.
Custom service and support is available every day, with phone support, live chat support, and email support all able to be taken advantage of. Please don’t hesitate to contact them at your earliest convenience to learn how US Global Mail best fits your needs moving forward!