As we approach the January 27 implementation of the 2019 USPS updates, I want to hit on a few highlights that I see as being most pertinent to Etsy sellers.
First a summary list, followed by additional details and my recommendations:
- First Class Package Service – now priced according to zones and in 4-oz. ranges
- Priority Mail – Commercial Base and Commercial Plus have been combined into one uniform commercial rate
- First Class Package International Service – rates to Price Group 1 (Canada) and Price Group 9 have increased; the rest stayed the same or decreased slightly
- Priority Mail International – all rates have increased except a couple of flat rate boxes
When compared to the 2018 Commercial Base rates, Priority Mail Flat Rate increased $.40-.45 on flat rate envelopes and the small box and decreased by $.05 on the medium and large flat rate boxes. For weight & zone-based Priority Mail, zones 1-2 increased slightly and the rest of the zones actually decreased. I imagine this was an attempt to land more in the middle after eliminating Commercial Plus pricing.
For Priority Mail International flat rate prices, there was a slight increase for flat rate envelopes and small box and slight decrease for the medium and large flat rate boxes. (The exception is Canada, where all PM flat rate prices have increased.) Weight and price group-based rates have all increased.
I have three recommendations:
- Stop paying for postage at the post office. This has always been my advice since rates at the PO are retail, plus it’s a time-eater. But I’m really going to shout it from the rooftops now, especially to those with lightweight packages that ship First Class. There is an even greater gap now between retail vs. commercial rates with First Class – up to $1.42, depending on the weight and zone.You might wonder why $1.42 is that big of a deal, so consider these various options for covering the cost:~ Pay the difference out of your own pocket. My average order is around $20. So if I cover the difference in postage, I’m decreasing my profit by over 7%. How about you?
~ Pass along the difference to your customer. Sure, you could do that. But in this culture of free shipping, even an extra $1.42 in shipping charges can be a deterrent for shoppers.
~ Build the difference into your product price. But is it worth increasing your prices just to pass along the extra to the USPS? If you’re going to raise your prices, do it to increase your profit margin – not so that you can keep standing in line at the post office.
So what you do with packages once you’ve printed the labels at home? You can either drop them in a blue box if they’re slim enough, skip the line and leave them on the counter at your post office, put them in your mailbox with the flag up, or schedule your mail carrier to pick them up right from your front door.
- Stay on Etsy to purchase shipping labels. I know that some Etsy sellers who use Priority Mail to ship have been purchasing postage on sites such PirateShip due to the slightly lower Commercial Plus rates. Since that category has been eliminated, there is no longer an advantage to purchasing labels outside of Etsy. You will get the same rates no matter where you buy postage online, and doing it through Etsy Shipping Labels will save you time.
- Use calculated shipping! If you mainly ship using First Class, you may have successfully put off learning how to use the calculated shipping tool and stuck with manually setting shipping charges. With zones now being introduced to First Class, this is as good a time as ever to get calculated shipping set up in your shop! Plus you won’t have to do a thing when this time of year comes around, because the adjustments will happen automatically. No more figuring out what to charge and changing all your shipping profiles by hand. And no under- or over-charging. (Check out my helpful tutorials here.)
Oh, and one more bonus recommendation that’s more general and not necessarily business-related: Stock up on Forever stamps! This year’s increase from $.50 to $.55 is an unusually big jump, and you can continue to use Forever stamps regardless of price changes.
Want to chat about this more?
I’ve scheduled a Facebook Live for Friday, 1/25, at noon Pacific (2PM Central / 3PM Eastern). Bring your questions and I’ll do my best to help you out. I went live on Facebook on 1/25, so watch the replay and feel free to leave a comment. And if I made any errors in this post, please let me know. My head is swimming with 2018 and 2019 postal rate charts!
P.S. Here is the link to the full 2019 USPS Price List.