In January, the United States Postal Service increased the postage rates available for all eRetailers under the 1st Class Package International service level. The changes included offering eDelcon services for 15 countries but in many cases doubled the rates in exchange for these added services. Additionally, the USPS was able to re-assign the 1st Class Package International service from the mailer services section (which are price controlled by the PRC) to the Shipping Services section (which is not price controlled by the PRC). How is this important? Because in future years this category will have their postage rates increased higher than the rate of inflation.
How does this impact eRetailers? Well many eBay and Amazon third party sellers I have spoken with throughout the year have mentioned that their International orders have taken a sharp decline during the course of this year. The main reason stated had been the doubling of the postage rate that occurred in January making their products less competitive in the global market place.
Well what if I told you there is a way to roll back the clock, and benefit from the postage rates available last year and not pay the additional money for the eDelcon services? Many eRetailers selling products that are lesser in value (less than $50) would jump at the opportunity. That opportunity exists with the USPS International Priority Airmail Service.
Key Features of USPS International Priority Airmail (IPA)
- Perfect for lightweight low value items, <2 Kilos & < $400 value
- Dispatched as 1st Class International Package Services
- Transit is 3-7 Days Globally
- Postal Cutoms Clearance (Duties & Taxes paid by Recipient)
- Free Returns on undeliverable items
- Discounted Postage Rates
- USPS Package Identification number provided
- Integrates directly with Endicia.com, Shipstation, Shipworks, Teapplix, etc.
How does an eRetailer use USPS IPA Service
eRetailer’s would contact a USPS Postal Qualified Wholesaler (PQW) in their region and speak with an International expert to help guide them through the service. Selecting the right PQW is crucial to your success in using the USPS IPA service. Select a PQW which has locations throughout the United States. This becomes extremely important during times of inclement weather, airport closures, or natural disasters. A PQW which has locations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles ensures that your mail will move no matter the circumstances we are facing in a particular region. eRetailers will also want to select a PQW who integrates directly with their current labeling system. If you are using Endicia.com or Shipstation to generate your labels, select a PQW who integrates directly with your current platform. A qualified PQW will walk you through the integration process so that you will seemlessly transmit the necessary data to the USPS.
Once you have finished the integration process you will generate your labels as normal. You will be generating a zero postage consolidator label and the necessary customs information will transmit to the PQW automatically. A pick up is arranged at your facility and the packages shipped to one of the PQW’s locations.
Be sure that when your packages arrive at the PQW’s processing center that every package is scanned into their operation. At that point packages are sorted by destination country, placed into corresponding sacks, and then deliver to the USPS International Service Center (ISC) in your area. Be sure to ask your PQW the following questions?
1) How often do you drop mail at the USPS ISC during the week? Some smaller PQW’s do not have enough mail volume to drop your mail everyday. In order to drop your mail directly at an ISC a PQW must have a minimum of 500 pounds per mail drop.
2) How much mail do you drop using direct sacks? If your mailer does not have a minimum of 3 pounds of mail for every country your mailing to, your mail is placed inside of a mixed sack. Mixed sacks are sent to the ISC which services that region of the world. For instance, if you have a package going to Belize and your mailer places that item into a mixed sack. That sack is sent to the Miami ISC from whatever point in the country you are mailing from. This could delay your packages significantly.
3) How many packages per week do they mail via IPA each week? Some comapnies are very large but do not use IPA daily. It is critical to know how much they are shipping via the IPA service.
4) Does the PQW have recommended verbage for your shipping policy pages on eBay and Amazon? If a PQW does not have recommended verbage for your shipping policy page, that indicates their lack of experience in dealing with the eRetail community. What good is saving money if your companies feedback ratings suffer? Make sure you follow the PQW’s recommended shipping policy verbage so your customers are completely aware of the service you are using to ship their packages.
Once packages are received at the USPS ISC the sacks are scanned as evidence of posting and placed on the next available outbound flight for that destination country. After flight arrival, the packages will clear customs via the Postal Customs Clearance mechanism. This ensures that your packages move quickly through the clearance process and are not impacted by the typical delays incurred by the normal Airfreight Clearance process. After clearance, packages are entered into the 1st Class mail stream of the receiving country for delivery to your customer.
Which Shippers should use the USPS International Priority Airmail Program?
1) If you ship on average 20 or more packages per day.
2) Is your average order value less than $400?
3) Are you comfortable not receiving a delivery scan on your packages?
4) Are you willing to change your shipping policy verbage?
If the above criteria fits your business model, then I would contact a USPS PQW immediately to start saving postage immediately.