If you are a small- to medium-sized business owner, you will agree with me when I say this:
Shipping options are a hassle to choose from.
But there is a solution!
That’s right – there is a solution and it’s within your reach.
But what is it?
It goes by the name of USPS Priority Mail.
But before we go into the ins and outs of why you should go for Priority Mail or whether to choose the USPS Regional Box A or B or a flat rate box instead (don’t freak out, we’ll tell you what all these terms mean!), let’s look at a few basic shipping details.
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The average consumer today is becoming more and more accustomed to shopping online. They prefer to compare options online and make the purchase without having to get off their couch.
If you think about it, you probably prefer that too! To have what you need delivered to your doorstep.
And that is exactly what your customers want. If you’re honest with yourself, that is why you opened up an online business.
And while that is great, you then, depending on the size of your client base and what it is you are selling, need a great way to ship your products.
Some of your best shipping options as a small to medium-sized business are:
Basically, to classify for the USPS Priority Mail service, the product you are shipping should:
If the items you regularly ship to your customers meet these criteria, USPS Priority Mail is the best option for you!
One reason for this is that Priority Mail offers very quick shipping so your customers don’t have to wait.
On top of that, you also get built-in insurance when you use Priority Mail. This can range from $50 if you purchase at the local post office to $100 if you make the purchase on eBay or Etsy.
But do you want to know the best part of all? Priority Mail provides you with free boxes and envelopes that you can order in batches.
This means that while you have to pay for shipping, you get the packaging for absolutely free!
And as a small business that is likely trying to save money at every turn possible, this is the best news you will hear from us!
Now that we are done with the basics, let’s jump right into all the options you have when it comes to choosing the perfect packaging option for various items.
There are three basic types of packaging options you can go for:
We will discuss all of them in this blog post.
First, we are going to discuss all the different kinds of envelopes and boxes that are available to you, as well as what they can be used for at a flat rate.
This means that it doesn’t matter where the item is going or what the weight is – you will be charged a predetermined flat rate (that we are going to mention with each of the options).
But that’s not all – we are also going to share the prices of commercial shipping if you choose Priority Mail Express (overnight shipping) or Priority Mail International (overseas shipping) if it is an option!
Note: Flat rate only applies to some envelopes for Priority Mail Express – regional rate applies to the rest of the options.
Dimensions: 12.5″ x 9.5″
Commercial Shipping Price: $6.95
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail Express: $22.68
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail International: $24.55
The Flat Rate Envelope is perfect for you if you need to send a document, a letter or any item such as a passport or a certificate. The size of the document should be around 8” x 11” if you want it to fit perfectly.
You can get it here: Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 10″ x 7″
As is pretty much obvious by the name of the envelope, it is perfect for you if you deal in greetings cards, even quite large ones, among other things. It also has a small pouch inside that is perfect to hold a gift card.
You can get it here: Gift Card Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 10″ x 5″
This envelope has a window which makes it easy to deliver documents with the address clearly visible.
You can get it here: Window Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 10″ x 6″
Does it not really matter if the documents or products you are sending have been folded? Or does your customer require only small cards, for example? This is the perfect thing for you in such cases.
You can get it here: Small Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 12.5″ x 9.5″
Commercial Shipping Price: $7.55
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail Express: $23.18
This is a large envelope that is bubble-padded for extra protection. If you have a business of books, clothes, jewelry or other small accessories that can get damaged easily, this is the way to go when you need to ship one or two items to a customer.
You can get it here: Padded Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 15″ x 9.5″
Commercial Shipping Price: $7.25
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail Express: $22.80
As mentioned in the name, this envelope is perfect to ship legal documents. This may not really be necessary for you as an e-commerce business but the option is there if you need it.
You can get it here: Legal Flat Rate Envelope
Dimensions: 8.69″ x 5.43″ x 1.75″ (outside) and 8.63″ x 5.38″ x 1.63″ (inside)
Commercial Shipping Price: $7.50
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail International: $25.50
If you are looking to ship small items such as electronics and jewelry that do not fit in an envelope, this is your next best option!
You can get it here: Small Flat Rate Box
Dimensions: 11.25″ x 8.75″ x 6″ (outside) and 11″ x 8.5″ x 5.5″
Commercial Shipping Price: $12.80
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail International: $47.10
This box can be used for anything like shoes, stationery, electronics, and much more.
You can get it here: Medium Flat Rate Box – 1
Dimensions: 14″ x 12″ x 3.5″ (outside) and 13.63″ x 11.88″ x 3.38″ (inside)
Larger equipment, multiple clothing items, and other things can be shipped easily in this relatively larger box.
You can get it here: Medium Flat Rate Box – 2
Dimensions: 12.25″ x 12.25″ x 6″ (outside) and 12″ x 12″ x 5.5″ (inside)
Commercial Shipping Price: $17.60
Commercial Shipping Price – Priority Mail International: $61.30
This box, as you can see from the dimensions, is quite large and is ideal for use when you have to send multiple or large items to your customers.
You can get it here: Large Flat Rate Box
Dimensions: 12.25″ x 12.25″ x 6″ (outside) and 12″ x 12″ x 5.5″ (inside)
Commercial Shipping Price: $16.10
To ship a product to a customer’s loved one serving in the military overseas, you can use this box.
You can order it here: APO/FPO/DPO Flat Rate Box
Dimensions: 24.06″ x 11.88″ x 3.13″ (outside) and 23.69″ x 11.75″ x 3″ (inside)
Ship board games and other long objects in this thin but long rectangular box.
You can order it here: Large Flat Rate Board Game Box
Note: The commercial shipping price mentioned for Priority Mail International is the starting price. The price may vary based on destination.
Now we come to the USPS Priority Mail regional rate options.
The prices for these boxes are determined based on the size of the box, as well as the “zone” to which it is being sent. Like the flat rate boxes, they remain unaffected by weight.
These are the two main box options when it comes to regional rate:
This box has a maximum weight limit of 15lb. You can go for a top- or side-loading box.
The weight limit on this one is 20 pounds. Like box A, you can get top- or side-loading variants.
Coming back to the zone, there are 8 zones that you can ship to within the US.
You can view the zones here.
As we mentioned above, the rates vary based on the size of the box, as well as the zone you are shipping to.
In other words, if your consumer lives in the same state or in a different state but still close-by and you have to send a small but heavy object, you may get a better deal with a regional rate box.
Take a look at the specifics of these boxes.
Dimensions: 10.13” x 7.13” x 5” (outside) and 10” x 7” x 4.75” (inside)
If you have a small item to ship that falls within the range of 15lb, this box is the option for you.
You can get it here: Priority Mail Regional Rate Box – A1
Dimensions: 11.06” x 2.5” x 13.06” (outside) and 10.94” x 2.38” x 12.81” (inside)
For flatter objects in the 15lb limit, this is the option you can go for.
You can get it here: Priority Mail Regional Rate Box – A2
Dimensions: 12.25” x 10.5” x 5.5” (outside) and 12” x 10.25” x 5” (inside)
If your item crosses the limit of 15lb and weighs up to 20lb, you can go for this box.
You can get it here: Priority Mail Regional Rate Box – B1
Dimensions: 14.5” x 3” x 16.25” (outside) and 14.38” x 2.88” x 15.88” (inside)
For a flatter item that weighs up to 20lb, this is the way to go!
You can order it here: Priority Mail Regional Rate Box – B2
Are you scared that your products will not fit into any of the boxes we just discussed? You don’t need to worry – there is a third range of boxes that you can explore!
This page on the USPS website displays all the free options you can ever need – for the most part.
How is it different from the flat rate and regional rate boxes?
Well, firstly, it allows you to explore a wider range of box sizes. Secondly, the weight of the item now becomes a factor in the shipping cost.
So if you are selling a lightweight item, you can definitely go for one of these boxes!
There are options to order single boxes, as well as different packages that let you buy multiple boxes in one go.
For larger, lighter products, these boxes are a godsend.
But wait, there’s more:
If you want to ship something that just won’t fit in ANY box, you can ship it in your own packaging! But for that, you need to have these Priority Mail Stickers to slap onto the box before you send it out.
This is very useful as it saves you a lot of hassle.
So, how do you choose?
We’ve discussed different types of Priority Mail services with you, as well as different envelopes and boxes.
So how do you choose the one that is perfect for your unique needs? With so many options, how do you know which one to go for, when?
It isn’t as hard as it seems at first – let us walk you through some of the considerations that will help you make your decision!
The first thing you need to think about is the size of the product you are shipping.
Are you an online jewelry store that can easily fit its packages inside a small padded envelope? Go for a flat rate envelope.
Or are you a shoe company that definitely needs a mid-sized box to fit your product into? A flat rate or regional box might do the trick for you.
And don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you sell a range of things with different sizes. You can choose different options for different products but you just need to be aware of the options you are going to need.
Luckily for you, as we have just discussed, both Priority Mail flat and regional rate options have many sizes to pick from!
This won’t have come as a surprise if you are used to shipping things personally – you will know that it is cheaper to ship a lighter object than a heavier one.
And it doesn’t always depend on size. A pillow can take up a whole carton and still be light as a feather (or a few thousands) while a small pocket toolbox, for example, may be quite heavy.
Also, if you have a product that weighs 69lb and fits in a relevant flat rate box, you’re good to go but if it is a much lighter product that is shipping closer to home, you may want to consider regional rate packaging.
Again, this varies from product to product.
Depending on the size and weight of the item, you will have to choose from between envelopes and boxes of different sizes.
In addition to this, you will have to consider other factors such as the fragility of the product. Something tiny and lightweight will fit a padded flat rate envelope perfectly but that may not be the best option if it is easily breakable.
Similarly, if you are shipping something that needs extra layers of packaging (such as an oily food product that is likely to leak), you will need special packaging. In that case, you can use the Priority Mail Stickers with your own packaging.
If you just ship to your local area or within the state or country, you can go for any local shipping services.
However, if you have customers in other countries, you will need Priority Mail International shipping, for example.
It may be a good idea to compare the flat and regional rates for a particular product before you ship it – one might be a lot cheaper than the other.
You want a package to reach the destination within a day?
You need a service that will cost more. Example? Priority Mail Express.
You give your customers a delivery time of one to five days?
You can go for a cheaper service – the usual Priority Mail or something even more affordable.
As a businessperson, it is better to give yourself a margin so you don’t have to pay extra.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to picking the best option that will cost you the least amount of money. And if you are a small to medium-sized business, that is all the more important. So choose wisely!
The most important thing to note is this:
No one option will always be the best for you, no matter how similar any two items may seem. Sometimes, a regional rate box will be much more economical than a flat rate box. At other times, you will be better off going for the flat rate one. At others yet, you may have to go with a different kind of box or even your packaging.
This is all relative and you will have to compare options as you go.
It may be confusing and time-consuming at first but you will get the hang of it after a while and get on track!
And when you do, you will know just when to choose the USPS regional box A or B and when to choose a USPS flat rate box or envelope!
Got a question for us? Let us know and we will be happy to help you out!