Major changes may be coming to the US Postal Service, according to an article in Government Executive on Friday that said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will seek to reinstitute operational and workforce changes to put the USPS on firmer financial footing. One line from the article that may jump out at sellers who rely on USPS to deliver their orders to customers: “Joe Corbett, the USPS chief financial officer, said the agency will again seek to slash work hours in fiscal 2021.”
The USPS had issued some new directives over the summer that ended up slowing the mail. Now that the election is over, the organization may again try to roll out initiatives to improve efficiency, and the experiences of the summer show cause for concern.
Speaking of possible delivery delays, the holiday-shipping clock is ticking with an even greater sense of urgency this year due to the pandemic. Christmas is less than 6 weeks away – is it reasonable to continue holiday promotions to capture last-minute shoppers? ShipStation published a guide to holiday shipping deadlines from the major carriers on this October blog post (includes USPS, UPS, and FedEx).
You may want to build in some extra breathing room, however. In a guest post on the Stamps.com blog in October, Global Post’s Shea Felix said merchants should allow for 1-2 weeks of delay for peak international shipping this season. “So, if (you) take the most popular product by volume and destination (First Class Package International Service to Canada) and the USPS deadline provides a “mail by December 7” date, then I would try to have it out by November 30 to be safe.”
UPS and FedEx rates will increase after the holidays. USPS’s holiday surge-pricing for commercial rates will expire, but higher mail rates will kick in in January. (The USPS has yet to announce a 2021 increase for shipping services.) Stamps.com’s October 19th blog post has handy charts, including one that details increases for optional services. It shows, for example, a 5-cent increase in Certified Mail and a 15-cent increase in Adult Signature Required. Those pennies (and nickels and dimes) add up, be sure you know what’s coming and adjust your prices and shipping costs appropriately.
eBay sellers are getting a new shipping option, though we don’t know when. If you sell small flat items like trading cards, stamps, or ephemera, this could be good news. eBay published information about the new service that costs only 75 cents and includes tracking, but removed the pages because, a moderator stated, the eBay Standard Envelope option was “not quite ready.” You can read more details on the AuctionBytes Blog.
eBay sellers are still waiting for an answer about whether eBay is planning to take away one of the benefits of being a Top Rated Seller (TRS). Currently eBay provides a $30 credit each quarter to TRS sellers they can use towards Promoted Listing ads. Again on the November 11th weekly chat, eBay moderators said they did not yet have an answer about whether it would be eliminating that benefit. Why the evasiveness – could eBay be planning on making structural changes to the TRS program itself?
In today’s issue, we talk to an executive at Facebook about Shops and how it’s helping small sellers reach customers in new, targeted ways. We also take a look at the problem of holiday returns and what steps sellers can take to reduce them.
Collectors Corner takes a look at a toy classic, and we end with Letters to the Editor.
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Thanksgiving is a week from Thursday. We have a lot to be thankful for this year, not the least of which is the support we received from our readers and advertisers. Thank you for the news tips, letters to the editor, EKG reports, and for sharing the joys and pitfalls of selling online. Have a happy and joyful Thanksgiving!