USPS Flat Rate Shipping - Is It Worth It and When To Use It

John M DaThoreau -
For online businesses, USPS flat rate shipping plays an important role in optimizing ecommerce strategies and saving valuable time. This comprehensive guide will delve into how flat rate shipping works, its suitable applications, and even provide insights on acquiring free boxes for your packages. We will also cover a very important topic - when NOT to use USPS packaging since as we know you get what you pay for.

Understanding Flat Rate Shipping:
USPS flat rate shipping is a convenient service provided by the United States Postal Service. It allows you to ship packages of up to 70 pounds and 20" x 15" x 8" in size for a single predetermined price, regardless of weight or dimensions.

Types of Flat Rate Boxes:
USPS offers various types of flat rate boxes to accommodate different needs:
1. Flat Rate Envelopes: Available in various sizes, these envelopes are ideal for sending letters and small packages weighing between 4 oz. and 14 oz.
2. Small Flat Rate Boxes: Perfect for shipping items that require more space than an envelope but don't need additional padding.
3. Medium Flat Rate Boxes: These boxes come with extra cushioning to ensure the safe transport of delicate items like shoes, while still allowing room for larger items like sweaters or jackets (up to 12 pairs per box).

When You Simply Can't Use Flat Rate:
While flat rate shipping is a reliable option, there are cases where it may not be suitable:

1. International Shipments: Flat rate shipping is not recommended for international destinations.

2. Non-Continental US Locations: If you're shipping to locations such as Hawaii or Alaska, alternatives to flat rate shipping may be more appropriate, such as USPS First Class International Mail.

Advantages of Flat Rate Shipping for Ecommerce Shops:
Utilizing flat rate shipping offers several benefits for ecommerce businesses:

1. Cost and Time Savings: Shipping flat rate boxes allows you to save both money and time. It's a user-friendly method that caters to various product types, enabling you to ship multiple items in a single box without worrying about additional charges.

2. Simple Process in 3 Steps:
a. Obtain a USPS flat rate box with a maximum weight limit of 70 lbs.
b. Pack your items securely and address the box accurately.
c. Ship your items using USPS or other carriers, with USPS being the primary focus in this guide.

Acquiring Free USPS Boxes:
To obtain free shipping boxes, you can participate in the USPS program called Boxes For Good. By signing up, you will receive a box each month, allowing your business to ship across the country without additional fees. However, it's important to note that postage costs still apply. Alternatively, you can inquire at your local post office for spare boxes or explore discounts on specific USPS services to alleviate shipping costs.

Be Careful About How "Free" Boxes Are Impacting Your Brand and Repeat Rate
While USPS provides convenience, it's crucial to consider potential downsides:
1. Brand Image: Using USPS boxes might not align with your brand's desired image, especially if you sell higher-priced or unique items. Blank boxes provide neutrality, whereas USPS boxes might not reflect the desired brand perception.
2. Missed Branding Opportunities: Utilizing USPS boxes means forgoing the chance to incorporate branding elements on the packaging, which can hinder efforts to build brand recognition and encourage repeat customers.
3. Tracking Reliability: USPS tracking services are known to have inconsistencies, potentially causing inconveniences for both you and your customers.
4. Risk of Damage or Loss: USPS has a higher likelihood of damaging or losing packages, leading to product and time losses.

USPS flat rate shipping is a valuable solution for streamlining your ecommerce shipping process, offering time and cost savings. However, it's important to assess your specific brand requirements and consider the potential impact on brand image and customer experience. By leveraging the advantages of flat rate shipping while addressing its limitations