Small ecommerce businesses are feeling the financial crunch like everyone else these days.
In these tough economic times, it’s more important than ever before to reduce costs wherever possible. Laying off employees is the last thing that any business owner wants to do – and for those entrepreneurs or small web-based retailers who are the one and only employee of the company, “lay off” may as well translate to “out of business.”
One potential revenue sink, which is often overlooked, is the inefficient way many small web-based retailers ship their merchandise – using physical postage or postage meters to label their parcels before shipping. There is a better alternative, one that will save your business both time and money, each important for the bottom line – online postage software, also known as PC Postage.
Ship your orders – without standing in long lines at the shipping store
One of the most time-and-money-consuming chores of a web-based retailer is order fulfillment – the shipping of your merchandise. Not too long ago, that meant long, time-consuming trips to the Post Office to buy postage for each and every package – a strain on the gas tank and on the wallet. And that's time that could have been put to more productive use building your Web site, making deals for new merchandise, or keeping ahead of financial issues.
Or, it meant leasing or buying a meter – an inefficient, bulky machine that had to have postage bought in large blocks (with hefty fees tacked on by the meter company) -- for anywhere from $20 to $80 a month, not including the regular outlay of as much as $80 for a refill of the special proprietary ink the meter uses.
With the availability of online postage services, small-scale web-based retailers now have a flexible third option to ship packages – buy postage online, in the quantity YOU need, not what the meter company dictates, and print it out right on the spot using most leading laserjet, inkjet or thermal printers. With gas hovering around $3.50 a gallon, the savings on those trips to the shipping store will pay for the shipping software very quickly.
Discounts through PC Postage
Paring back costs is essential for small businesses, and successfully reducing line item amounts on the balance sheet can be the difference between being in the black or the red. To remain competitive with FedEx and UPS, the United States Postal Service has authorized discounts off the usual retail postage on two of their most popular mail classes for PC Postage customers: a 3% discount on Express Mail and up to 11% on Priority Mail service when you buy postage online. You can only get these postage discounts through PC Postage – you’ll end up paying the full retail price at the post office counter.
PC Postage allows you to hide the cost of postage.
Obviously, you want your customers to focus on how good your product is, not how much it cost to ship. Yet, the cost of materials and labor can still be a significant cost for a small business. Some customers might get irate at the idea that they’re subsidizing “shipping and handling” charges above and beyond the cost of their purchase. With most PC Postage vendors, such as Stamps.com, you can obscure the cost of postage that appears on the shipping label by encoding it into the scatter code on the label.
PC Postage provides detailed postage reporting
Once tax season rolls around, you’re looking for any legitimate deduction you can use to reduce your tax burden. Of course, any postage costs you have incurred are a business expense, and, depending on how much business you do by mail, could save you a fair amount of cash. Instead of paper receipts which can be easily lost, all your electronic postage transactions are stored on your computer in a secure file, ready for you to view at your (or your accountant’s) leisure.
And, further, with most of the leading PC Postage clients, you can assign tracking codes to individuals, tracking their postage spending to reduce wastage and potential misuse of your company’s postage. Most applications should allow you to assign as many as 50 discrete codes to track postage by department or even individual employee if need be.
About the Author
Patrick Payne has been employed with Stamps.com since 2005, focusing his attention on postage solutions and small business productivity. Stamps.com is an online postage software that allows you to buy and print USPS-approved postage straight from your computer and printer.