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One Case Where It’s Cheaper to Ship at the Post Office

The USPS did not change the retail rate of First Class Package Service, only the Commercial Base rates, resulting in a strange phenomenon where in a few cases, it’s actually cheaper to bring your package to the post office. (Retail is what you get at the window of your local post office, while Commercial Base is what you get if you print postage online.)

That means you still pay $2.54 if you bring a 3-ounce package to the post office for FCPS, but you pay $2.60 if you print the postage online.

Six cents can add up if you do a high volume in low-weight packages. But thanks to another change that went into effect on Sunday, you don’t actually have to visit your local post office to get the retail rate – use USPS Click N Ship to print the label online. See important update below.

That’s because of the Postal Service’s decision to change Click N Ship rates from Commercial Base to Retail rates. So while that decision in general seems counter-intuitive, in this one case, it could benefit online sellers if they’re willing to switch between Click N Ship and another service that offers Commercial Base pricing for all other shipping services.

Update 1/19/16: Click N Ship does not offer the ability to print First Class Mail. That means the only way to get the lower retail rates for 1 – 3 oz FCPS rates is to bring them to the post office.

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USPS confirmed that Click–N-Ship service has never offered 1st Class as a postage option in the past, nor will that option be available going forward, a spokesperson told us. “Click-N-Ship allows customers to print shipping labels with postage for Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail International, Global Express Guaranteed and Priority Mail Express International.”

But as a reader pointed out, while it may save 6 cents for the retail rate, it doesn’t offer tracking, which is so important for online sellers. Yet another reader pointed out, “All package services at the retail counter now have tracking on them. Whoever corrected you about click-n-ship hasn’t been to the retail window in at least a year.” Thank to all for keeping the info flowing!

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.