Online shippers: This is one price hike you just might like

Big change in postal rates

I jumped up and down with joy when I filled up my gas tank this week — it cost a heck of a lot less than it did a month ago. Same thing when I bought the pricey headphones I’ve been coveting for the past six months on Black Friday; sure, I had to stand in line for two hours, but the price slash was well worth it.

But let’s face it, a price drop is a rare and beautiful thing. More often than not, prices go up. Alas, that’s the case with commercial shipping rates through the U.S. Postal Service.

If you ship products from your own online store or an e-commerce marketplace, you might have been affected by a big change in postal rates that took effect January 26. Unless you want to pay more for commercial postage (doubtful), you must now meet all Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) requirements. You can find them here.

This change is good

Say what? As small business guru Gene Marks explains in a recent Forbes article, “Do You Know About The Big Change in Postal Rates That Takes Effect Today?”, the postal rate hike offers a number of benefits for small businesses:

“The intelligent barcode will offer three key benefits for your business: For starters, it provides an end to end tracking service where packages will be scanned up to eleven times, making it easier to get tracking information for both companies and customers and improving the USPS’s customer service. The service will also offer free insurance without having to go to the post office to buy it. Most importantly, customers who use the service will have the ability save five to fifty percent on postage, as compared to typical commercial rates and depending on their packages’ weight, class and distance.”

As Gene points out, the only hitch is that you HAVE to use the unique tracking Intelligent Mail package barcode on all parcels to get the benefits (and avoid paying more) — and that means you need to use a computer or web-based shipping solution to access IMpb-enabled services. This really isn’t that big a deal because there are plenty of affordable, Postal Service-certified IMpb software vendors.

Take heart, Gene says:

“Yes, it’s another headache. But then again change is never easy. And let’s give credit where credit is due: at the very least, the USPS is one government agency that is working hard to not be like a government agency. I’m sure Fedex, UPS and other shippers will continue to do what they need to compete. And all of that is good for the customer, particularly business owners.”

And we’ll take all the breaks we can get, right?

A former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for small businesses and web pros through her work as managing editor of the GoDaddy Garage. When she's not writing or editing, she likes to experiment with baking, travel, read, and dip her toes in the ocean.