Online shoppers expect to be able to track their online orders, and marketplaces like eBay expect sellers to offer it, but it isn’t always easy to get an acceptance scan from the USPS. However, there is a way to help ensure your customers can see when their item has been placed in the mail stream.
During the 2015 holiday shopping season the US Postal Service had a total shipping/package volume of over 1.4 billion packages, with ecommerce pros and other contributing to this record volume. It’s possible that in their normal course of business that some online sellers may have missed out on a useful service the USPS offers, the Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice, or SCAN form.
SCAN Form (PS Form 5630) has been around for ten years allows sellers to prove their packages have entered the mail stream – it contains a master barcode that represents all the packages in a shipment, and a single scan enters all of the associated packages into the USPS database as “Shipment Accepted.”
USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid-DeMoe told EcommerceBytes noted SCAN doesn’t require signing up, and “it is an automatic option within multiple online postage options, such as Click-N-Ship, eBay, Endicia, Stamps.com, etc.”
“Customers using On Line label printing and shipping solutions have told us that it is extremely important to have an initial scan or on-line indication of the pickup or induction of their items by the USPS,” Reid-DeMoe said. “The USPS also feels that greater levels of acceptance scanning increases the value of our products.”
“In the USPS Click-N-Ship service the SCAN form is rendered to the shipper when they are printing their labels. The SCAN form would print out with their shipping labels,” she said.
Eric Nash at Stamps.com shared some tips with EcommerceBytes for getting the most out of SCAN. “Don’t print a SCAN Form until you’ve finished printing shipping labels for the day. Stamps.com recommends completing this process before 5 pm, after which the software will submit your package information to USPS,” he said.
“If this information is sent without a SCAN Form, you won’t be able to include them on it and it will take longer for a postal employee to accept your packages into the system. If you remove a package from a set of parcels on a SCAN Form, USPS will not allow you to use the SCAN Form. The carrier will need to scan each package individually.”
Nash also noted how SCAN helps improve the customer experience by making a little more shipping information available. “In the old days, customers often complained that employees would not scan the package upon acceptance. So sellers had to wait for the package to go through the USPS processing system before getting their first tracking scan. By using a SCAN form, the buyer can see the package has left the seller’s hands and their package is in route to their delivery address.”
This Newsflash article from 2011 includes more information and useful links.