The United States Postal Service (USPS) is one of the leading delivery and mailing services in the United States. Like its name states, it uses the post office for the postage of different envelopes and parcels. This is the reason its options are more cost-effective as compared to service providers like UPS and FedEx. You only have to add labels and shipping information to your parcels and drop them off at your local post office and the rest is taken care of by USPS.
For ecommerce businesses, shipments make up the backbone of the whole chain of operations, and different decisions regarding shipment yield different shipping costs. This is why it'd important to know different mailing classes and their respective shipping fees.
USPS, the leading mailing service provider, offers mailing services for different types of mail classes. This guide covers the basics of the mail classes and mailing services offered by USPS and what’s suitable for your business.
6 Types Of USPS Mail Classes
USPS has a total of 6 mailing classes, each with its own service levels, postage process, and requirements. Some of these are domestic and some can be international as well. The domestic shipment options can be used for shipments to Army Post Offices (APOs) and Fleet Post Offices (FPOs).
So, what mailing classes are there in the USPS and what do they usually cover? Let’s take a look at them in detail.
1. Priority Mail Express
Priority Mail Express is the fastest delivery option that USPS offers with guaranteed 1-2 day delivery options. The good thing about this option is that it includes insurance coverage of $100. By paying some extra charges, you can opt for this option even on holidays. This option comes with the Free USPS Tracking. Priority Mail Express International can be used to send fast shipments internationally. The next day delivery is subject to the time of mailing for the day before the shipments are usually sent for overnight shipping.
2. Priority Mail
If you’re looking for speedy delivery options but do not want to commit to the expenses of 1-2 shipping options, Priority Mail is the best option for your e-commerce business. The total shipping charges of the Priority Mail are determined by the distance to the destination territories measured in terms of zones. USPS has special offers for Priority Mail flat rate envelopes and boxes that have a weight limit of 70 lbs.
Additionally, Priority Mail envelopes and boxes can be ordered online for free or you can find them at your local Post Office for free. This class also comes with the option of free USPS Tracking and signature confirmation as proof of delivery. Priority Mail International can be used for international shipments.
3. First-Class Mail
First Class Mail is the right option for you if you want to ship lightweight products and small packages. You can even send First-class mailing postcards. This option comes with a delivery time of 1-3 days and is suitable for most e-commerce businesses.
It offers flat-rate envelope shipping regardless of the destination shipping zones and you can add extra services like return receipt, registered mail, and certified mail for an additional fee. There are some shape and weight restrictions for the packages. First Class Mail International services are also available in this category.
4. USPS Marketing Mail
USPS Marketing Mail comes in handy to send marketing things like catalogs, flyers, coupons, bulletins, circulars, and other promotional things. This category usually has bulk prices and each order has a minimum quantity of mail with no single-use Marketing Mail postage. In this class, there are separate prices for letters, envelopes, parcels, etc.
This particular class of mail deals with periodical publications like magazines, newspapers, circulars, etc. This option requires a formal application to be submitted with a non-refundable application fee to get authorized Periodical mailing privileges and a mailing permit. Most e-commerce businesses do not use these options because they can relay this information to their customers through other channels like email and SMS.
6. Package Services/USPS Retail Ground
Package Services comprises three sub-classes of mail: Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail. Again, like Periodicals, these mailing classes are not much useful to e-commerce business owners. They take usually 2-9 days for delivery and come with free USPS Tracking.
Media mail contains items of different sizes including things like sound recordings on CDs, DVDs, video tapes gifts, and possessions for personal correspondence, etc.
Which Mail Class Is Right For Your Business?
While all of these options are attractive, exactly what you need depends on the size and type of your business. For some businesses, regular options are more economical and for others, time is the name of the game. Depending on what you sell and who you sell it to, your optimum mail class might differ from other e-commerce merchants. Here’s how.
Fastest: Priority Mail Express
Many businesses nowadays are striving to offer overnight shipping options with their companies. Amazon Prime of course takes the lead here. If you are a business owner and want to offer the fastest shipping options to your customers, you might go for Priority Mail Express. USPS offers guaranteed delivery dates with this option but it is also the most expensive option from USPS.
Keep in mind that this option is costlier than other options and if you have a small business, it might not be the best choice for you. Furthermore, the bigger your products are, the more it is going to cost for the items to be shipped overnight and it would increase the total costs a whole lot more. So, if you deal with bigger items that make up large packages like refrigerators and furniture, this might be an expensive ordeal.
Lowest Cost: Priority Mail
With Priority mail, the normal time of delivery is 1-3 days nationwide. It also comes with a variety of flat-rate offers that simplify everything. Additionally, it comes with free USPS Tracking so that you and your customers know the whereabouts of the package until it is delivered. Also, with the flat-rate packages, you don’t have to worry about the zip codes of your shipping destinations.
Marketing Specific: USPS Marketing Mail
This shipping option is suitable for marketing purposes only. If you’re looking to send promotional items to your customers and possible clients, go for USPS Marketing Mail. Remember that this option is most suitable for bulk mailing.
Shipment and order fulfillment is an important part of the customer experience and determines the future growth of your business. This is why it is important to research your options before committing to something. USPS is among the most widely used mailing services in the United States and all for the right reasons. It is reliable, secure, and comes with different options that suit a variety of users. Whatever you sell, there'd likely suitable mailing option for you with USPS.