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Reducing shipping costs and weather the increases
Are other looking at different methods?
Ledfish




msg:3665453
 2:56 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

We have recently begun looking at ways to reduce our shipping costs to avoid having to increase shipping prices.

Our other shipping costs (Labor, Materials) have not changed much and after analysis, probably can't be reduced.

We are looking at shifting the majority of our shipping business to USPS even though integration looks less than ideal and might cost us more in labor. Also we would have to take all our packages and drop them off at the post office.

We are not thrilled with the idea of losing real-time tracking as we currently have with UPS,FedEx or DHL, but it appears we may have to make some sacrifices just to keep the cost from getting out of hand.

What are others doing ?

 

CernyM




msg:3665456
 3:07 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why do you have to take your packages to the Post Office?

Ledfish




msg:3665477
 4:27 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

Because quite a few are international, plus our only other option for the domestic is to pay to have them picked up.

We have enough that the regular mail carrier will not take them when he delivers our daily mail. I talked to the postmaster, however she was sympathic to the carrier.

[edited by: Ledfish at 4:27 am (utc) on June 3, 2008]

HRoth




msg:3665654
 11:56 am on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

You have so many they won't fit in his truck?

Are you living in a small town, by any chance? Sometimes post office folks in small towns are not so informed as they should be. When I wanted to know if I could get a first-class delivery confirmation on a rigid envelope, me and postmaster had to go over the postal regulations together, because he didn't know. Also, when I first started using carrier pickup, my carrier returned a bunch of my internationals to me because the clerk downtown told him that she could not stamp them through the plastic they were in. I asked him why she couldn't just take them out of the pouch? He was surprised and did not know they were IN a pouch, and neither did she, even though this is the regulation customs pouch provided by the post office.

My carrier does not have any problems picking up international. You just have to be present, according to the post office. It says that right on the web, so you can show it to them.

Ledfish




msg:3665749
 1:56 pm on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

We ship about 50-75 a day and because of the area we live in (not a big town, but not a tiny one either) the postal carrier trucks are pretty loaded down and the route a pretty vast. I suggested to the postmaster that she should just have the postal carrier return after completing his route and pick them up, but she did not like that idea since the carrier would have to back track about 10 miles.

Even with all the hassle, it still looks to me to be more economical to switch to USPS. I was just wondering if other people have gone the same way or if people are just grinning and baring the cost of ship via UPS, FedEx and DHL?

HRoth




msg:3665764
 2:11 pm on Jun 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

My carrier will come back at the end of his route and pick up stuff.

I have pretty much always used USPS. I started to do it because they provide free boxes for priority mail, but I also liked that there is no surcharge for delivery to a residence and their rates are generally cheaper than UPS unless you are shipping really heavy things. Customers like this also. I sell a whole class of small widgets that I can offer a flat rate on that is only $3.50, and this includes a delivery confirmation. That's pretty good as web shipping goes. I also found that using software set up for USPS made the job very much easier than using the USPS site, which is slow and poorly designed. However, there is no tracking for international shipments unless you use the high-priced methods, like international priority and express. No evil eye, I have had only one thing get lost in the past five years.

Chicken Carbonara




msg:3670058
 12:29 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

The USPS has a commercial division that caters to small business. We actually have our own account rep who is our advocate with the PO. Pretty amazing, but we like them better than UPS. As to pickup, our PO WILL pickup international along with the rest of our stuff, and no charge for pickup either.

jwurunner




msg:3670063
 12:45 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

The USPS has a commercial division that caters to small business. We actually have our own account rep who is our advocate with the PO. Pretty amazing, but we like them better than UPS. As to pickup, our PO WILL pickup international along with the rest of our stuff, and no charge for pickup either.

In our area we can not get the carriers to take our packages. The only way we can have the pick up is if we do a carrier pickup for the correct amount the day before. Since we ship the same day this obviously doesn't work. We have two carriers. One who is extremely lazy and leaves the packages while making a scene and the other carrier who just leaves them without comment. It amazing that they get paid for what they do...

HRoth




msg:3670317
 11:41 am on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

You should call the USPS 800 number and report them. Seriously. This is not the way for them to behave. Pickup of packages is free, end of story. They have to do it, end of story. It's not optional. Most people who work for the post office are very helpful, but I have found that some don't have the concept of customer service. One clerk at the main post office used to give me a hard time because I had so many packages. She would take other people who just wanted to mail one thing ahead of me, even though there was a line for everyone. She would kind of slam things around and not speak to me. So finally I apologize loudly and sarcastically in the presence of the postmaster for giving the post office so much business and said maybe UPS would appreciate me. Then they got the word from on high that they must not make anyone bringing in a large amount of packages wait while they waited on people who just wanted a stamp. So they are getting a clue, but sometimes you have to educate them. Here is the official USPS info about carrier pickup:

https://carrierpickup.usps.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CarrierPickup.woa

Note: free, any amount of packages.

OddDog




msg:3670566
 4:51 pm on Jun 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

jeez you guys should try out the spannish national mail service!

talk about rude! I also tend to take approx 10 small packages every day there.... shocking how some people donīt seem to wont your business.

rocknbil




msg:3671359
 4:24 pm on Jun 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

We have the opposite condition in our rural area, the UPS office is tiny, you can't say boo without opening an account on their in-office terminals and doing everything yourself, and other problems. We have two USPS offices, one is a small town station that is rarely crowded, a quick in and out.

As for pickups - yeah, ours travel in a station wagon, so we're a bit more comfortable driving them to the office, it's only 2 miles.

USPS even though integration looks less than ideal

Not sure what you mean here, the API is pretty specific and you can get any info you want, almost down to the penny. You have to specify confirmation and tracking services if you want a tracking number. The UPS tracking numbers are only accurate when everything goes right anyway, see previous discussions on this matter.

dpd1




msg:3672435
 8:00 pm on Jun 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

I've used USPS from the beginning. Mainly because we ship long packages and UPS really likes slamming you for that. In most cases I can send something and have it get there in two to three days, for less than what UPS ground is. What seals the deal for me is the free priority boxes. We can use two taped together for one shipment. A box that size is going to be about 4-5 dollars if purchased, even when you buy in bulk. Also, they've made international shipping a little easier lately by just using the same shipping supplies and loosening up a little on how it's done. Before they had international as a totally separate thing that had no tracking or anything. Now they at least have the tracking. Yes, we do have to go to the nearest postal counter, but for us it's a contract station right up the street. They know us well so there's rarely a problem. If you have to go to the normal post offices though, it can be a pain. Many postal workers can be quite ignorant and seem to know very little about their own rules. But at least you've got 65 shipments going out a day. I wish we had that. :-)

corbing




msg:3672601
 12:40 am on Jun 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

For integration, take a look at Dazzle by Endicia. We ship about 40% USPS and 60% UPS and our XML integration with Dazzle is so much cleaner than with UPS. We have different shipping stations for USPS and UPS and the guys doing USPS can easily ship 2-3 packages in the same time as one UPS package. And, it's cheap ($30 or month or something).

As for pickups, as other have said, you just need to make sure that they know it's their job to do a free daily pickup, regardless of how many packages you have. Each state has a USPS Consumer Affairs office that acts as problem solver for the local branches. Find that number and call them. We also have a dedicated account rep at the USPS and they're great to work with. We have a USPS truck that comes by at 4:30 each day, drops off big orange rolling carts and takes our full orange carts. They are separate from our regular postal carrier.

D_Blackwell




msg:3675047
 1:56 am on Jun 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

USPS branches are 'fiefdoms'. There are fantastic branches that can't do enough for you - and some that don't care a whit. Solid personal relationships with your branch is crucial. It helps if you do their job for them by being very well organized and super easy to deal with.

As mentioned: Free boxes. Free Priority tape too if you've got a good relationship. Twenty-four rolls to a case. It's a supply that you can't order, but they can get if for you if they want to.

We can get internationals picked up with no problem. They are all done online; we just give them their copy of the customs form separately.

Tracking is non-existent and their recently introduced Acceptance Scan Form is a joke attempt to mimic tracking. But you do get Delivery Confirmation included, and packages very rarely go missing, so the lack of real tracking is not an issue for us.

USPS is FAST (though often not as fast as they claim) - and customers love that.

Many postal workers can be quite ignorant and seem to know very little about their own rules.

Do this long enough and you will know more about their job than they do. No joke.

For integration, take a look at Dazzle by Endicia.

Pretty slick system. Especially popular service for shipping/handling scams because of the 'stealth' shipping options. Good software though; super fast. Plus, do enough volume and you can get discount rate below USPS online cost. That break can more than pay for the cost of the service.

I have worked with numerous branches, and currently have regular contact with three. One is so-so. One doesn't have a single employee that I would give you a nickel for. The third is unbelievable. I would hire every single person there if I could. Each branch has its own culture and attitude and it always shows. If you've got a bad one, then you have suck it up, smile, and do everything possible to build a positive relationship. You need them - like it or not.

We are not thrilled with the idea of losing real-time tracking...

Mostly overrated for our purposes. Our shipments arrive before people feel any concern about looking for them.

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