Sunday, August 29, 2010

UPS Shipping - Something to Consider

On the handmade homefront, many artists choose to use the USPS (United States Postal Service). Some use them because of the free supplies such as boxes. Others use them because of the speed in which they can deliver packages from coast to coast. And some artists still ship Parcel Post to save on shipping cost.

Last year, FedEx put a hand in the game by offering Etsy artists a discount on shipping. I signed up for the program and I'll talk about my experience in a moment.

I have now been in business for almost 7 years and I have used them all. My favorite is UPS. Many shy away from UPS because there is a stigma that UPS is expensive. Some live in a location that simply doesn't allow it. And for some, it is just the fear of the unknown.

Don't get me wrong...I still use the USPS on occasion...Priority Mail only unless the item is very inexpensive. Parcel Post takes too long for my specifications and the longer candles are "out there," the better the chance of damage. For others, of course, this is not an issue because their items are not perishable.

After an extensive study on rates, I found that UPS was not only cheaper to nearly all locations, but it included insurance! USPS makes you pay extra for insurance. Again, for perishables, this is a negative.

When I signed up for my FedEx account, the rates were comparable to UPS and they too said that insurance is included. However, FedEx neglected to pick up my very first shipment with them...during December...just before Christmas. I ended up shipping the items next day via UPS which was VERY pricy. I never used them again.

So why do I highly suggest trying UPS?

  • It is easy to set up an account and you can have the charges charged right to your PayPal debit card once per week.
  • Rates are often lower than other carriers AND they include insurance.
  • If something is damaged, you quickly file a claim online and you see a check within days.
  • They have a new option called "Smart Pickup" where you pay $10 per week and they automatically schedule a pickup when you ship something. You actually set up a pickup time once and then you can create labels right up until that is wonderful! For those who ship even two days a week, this is an incredible deal and very convenient. While USPS offers free pickup, the higher rates (at least for me) reflect that and the packaging.
  • Labels...a very expensive item...are FREE!
  • UPS presents a very professional image. The "stigma" of being expensive can be a positive in this respect.
  • My personal experience with damage: UPS rarely damages items...possibly because they have the insurance program. USPS often damages my items. My items should never experience damage with all of the packaging I use so if packages are damaged, they have been mishandled.
One negative with UPS can be the transit time from coast to coast. Because of the benefits, lack of damage, and cost savings using UPS, I will typically ship with them anyway. However, if I have a shipment that needs to get to California fast, I may on occasion use Priority Mail because it will shorten the ship time by two days.

Remember, this is just my experience. Your experience may be different and if you don't have perishables or experience with USPS damage to your products, USPS may be just the ticket! If you have had a positive experience with FedEx, that is great. I had a very angry customer because of mine, unfortunately.

Before this busy season, set up an account with UPS and give it a try. It may just be worth your time!