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As USPS Lowers Postage, Variations Arise for Online Sellers

The USPS was forced to lower postage on Sunday for market dominant rates including the cost of a First Class stamp (from 49 cents to 47 cents). While most USPS shipping services used by online sellers are considered competitive and are unaffected (those rates increased in January), the USPS is lowering Retail First-Class Mail parcels.

How much an online seller pays for postage can vary greatly depending on whether they use an online postage provider or bring their packages to the Post Office. And online postage providers vary greatly in the rates they charge.

One aspect of the change that can be confusing is the price of certain First Class parcels. The USPS raised First Class Package Services on January 17th, including FCPS under 3 ounces, as part of its “competitive” rate hike.

Yet eBay announced it would be lowering the eBay label rate for such packages on April 10th due to the “market dominant” rate change.

USPS Katina Fields explained how that was possible: “Retail First-Class Mail parcels are being lowered as part of the “exigent” rollback, due to a mandatory action required by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). This is a different product from the commercial First-Class Package Service “competitive” price category.”

When we forwarded a question from an eBay seller about how eBay and PayPal would handle the changes, she advised eBay sellers with questions to consult their eBay and PayPal customer sales representatives about how the two companies are implementing the new price changes.

For sellers who ship packages via USPS on a regular basis, it makes sense to use online postage providers, especially now that the Postal Service’s own Click N Ship service no longer provides Commercial Base discounts. Those companies can handle packages from multiple channels, automate notifications to customers and upload tracking information to marketplaces – and importantly, they can keep up with postal changes.

You can find the new retail rates on the USPS website.

Update 5/6/16: A seller tells us Amazon is now offering USPS 1-3 Oz FCP at $2.45.

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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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.