While postage rates continue to rise (the U.S. Postal Service plans another rate hike in April), the USPS has also introduced some new products that can help online sellers save money. One example is the new Padded Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope. Online booksellers and merchants selling small items that need to arrive quickly are evaluating the new envelopes. The service costs the same as the regular Flat Rate Priority Mail envelope, and depending on what you're shipping, may save you money on bubble wrap or special mailers.
Another innovation is the Priority Mail Regional Rate box, and sellers in the U.S. may be able to save money if they are a commercial customer or online shipper (for example, Click-N-Ship, ShipRush, Endicia.com, Stamps.com, etc.). Priority Mail Regional Rate can be used to ship small, dense packages short distances that need to arrive in 2-3 days, and all extra services that are available for Priority Mail can be used with the Regional Rate boxes as well.
Postage is calculated based on the appropriate zone and depends on which of the two types of boxes are used (each type of Regional Rate box comes in two styles, top loading and side loading).
- Box A has a 15-pound maximum weight limit.
- Box B has a 20-pound maximum weight limit.
Stamps.com Director of Online Marketing Eric Nash said Stamps.com does not yet have Regional Rates but will be adding the option this month - he said Regional Rate Boxes have been one of the top feature requests since their debut on January 2. Nash said that, overall, Regional Rate boxes are a great deal for shippers. He had two observations that make for good rules of thumb:
Priority Mail Regional Rate versus Priority Mail (Not Flat Rate)
1) Regional Rate Box A is exactly the same price as a 2 pound regular Priority Mail (not Flat Rate) package, Nash said, so anything more than 2 pounds that can fit in the Regional Rate box saves the shipper money.
2) Regional Rate Box B is exactly the same price as a 4 pound Priority Mail (not Flat Rate) package, so anything more than 4 pounds that can fit in the Regional Rate box saves the shipper money.
You can review the Priority Mail Rates here. Of course, it's also important to compare Priority Mail Regional Rate with Flat Rate boxes:
Priority Mail Regional Rate versus Priority Mail Flat Rate
Rafael Zimberoff, ShipRush Product Manager, said the regional boxes are great if you are within a few zones of the recipient. "In practice, this means those in the middle of the country can use them almost without thinking for shipments in the lower 48. Those of us on the coasts need to turn on our thinking caps, and work out when the Regional box is a better deal than flat rate boxes, and why."
Stamps.com's Nash has another rule of thumb helps simplify the comparison: 99% of the time, the Small Flat Rate Box ($5.20) will be cheaper than Regional Rate boxes. (Box A zones 1-3 are the exception.)
For the other Flat Rate boxes, which range in price from $10.95 - $14.95, there are only a few cases when they may be cheaper: Regional Rate Box B to Zones 6, 7 and 8.
The Regional Rate and Flat Rate boxes are described below. Keep in mind the rules of thumb described above, and you may save on postage costs!
The Four Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes
Remember, Regional Rates are only available to commercial customers or those using online postage - you can't get these rates at the post office window ("retail").
Priority Mail Regional Rate Box A - Side Loading (15-pound maximum weight)
Inside Dimensions: 10 15/16" x 2 3/8" x 12 13/ 16"
Outside Dimensions: 11 1/16" x 2 1/2" x 13 1/16"
Priority Mail Regional Rate Box A - Top Loading (15-pound maximum weight)
Inside Dimensions: 10" x 7" x 4 3/4"
Outside Dimensions: 10 1/8" x 7 1/8" x 5"
Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B - Side Loading (20-pound maximum weight)
Inside Dimensions: 14 3/8" x 2 2/8" x 15 7/8"
Outside Dimensions: 14 1/2" x 3" x 16 1/4"
Priority Mail Regional Rate Box B - Top Loading (20-pound maximum weight)
Inside Dimensions: 12" x 10 1/4" x 5"
Outside Dimensions: 12 1/4" x 10 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes
Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box - $5.20 (8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8")
Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (FRB1) - $10.95 (11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2")
Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (FRB2) - $10.95 (13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8")
Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (Domestic Addresses) - $14.95 (12" x 12" x 5-1/2")
Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box (APO/FPO/DPO Destinations) - $12.95 (12" x 12" x 5-1/2")