What Is Stamps.com & How Does It Work?
Shipping is one of the great challenges of eCommerce, and smaller businesses are especially prone to struggles with order fulfillment. Without the benefits of a full warehouse and fulfillment team, the mechanics of shipping can quickly get in the way of more important business endeavors, and shipping expenses can pile up. And with so many variables affecting shipping rates, it is often difficult to know which option is the most cost-effective.
To simplify their shipping processes, merchants turn to a variety of alternative methods (in fact, we’ve written a whole blog series on those shipping methods). You can, for example, integrate shipping software with your current eCommerce platform or even invest in a third-party fulfillment service.
Here at Merchant Maverick, we love complex shipping software, but we also recognize that for some small business owners, more advanced shipping solutions may be overkill. If you’re used to loading up all of your shipments and driving them to the nearest package drop off, you may simply be looking for a way to print out your postage and send your merchandise without making a trip to the post office. For you, and merchants like you, Stamps.com may be the way to go.
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Stamps.com is software that integrates with the USPS (United States Postal Service) to let you purchase postage and shipping labels directly from your computer. You can print out postage on any regular printer and then schedule a pickup time with USPS. In essence, you can get your shipments in the mail without ever leaving your place of business.
The software is available in both an online version and a downloadable version for PC. Although Stamps.com is similar to many shipping software options, it is a bit less functional than the average program. Most notably, Stamps.com only allows you to purchase postage from the USPS, while other shipping solutions give you a wider range of postage options. Additionally, Stamps.com only includes the most basic of shipping features. You can purchase postage and insurance, schedule pickups, and email return shipping labels, but that’s pretty much it.
Stamps.com’s base plan is priced at a flat rate of $17.99/month + applicable taxes (in addition to the cost of postage, of course). This plan includes one user account only. If you need access to more users, you can sign up for Stamps.com’s Premier plan, which allows you to use three user accounts and one location. The Premier plan costs $24.99/month + applicable taxes.
Stamps.com also offers a trial for your first four weeks on the software. That trial comes with a few extra perks, including:
- $5 in free postage to use during your trial
- Free Stamps.com Supplies Kit ($5 value) with address/postage labels and a user manual
- Free 5 lb. digital scale ($50 value) when you pay shipping and handling
- Coupons for $20 in postage that you can use after the trial
As you consider using Stamps.com to purchase postage, you should also keep in mind the numerous shipping discounts the company provides. Stamps.com users can access Commercial Base, Commercial Plus, Cubic Pricing, and Negotiated Service Agreements. Here are the available discount rates:
- Up to 16% on all Priority Mail Express shipments
- Up to 40% on Priority Mail shipments
- Up to 30% on First Class Package Service shipments
- Up to 7% on international shipments
- Up to 40% on package insurance
Stamps.com has also recently started offering a new Enterprise-level plan. Enterprise is intended for businesses that need to list more than three user accounts and more than one location. Stamps.com does not list pricing information for Enterprise online, which typically means that pricing depends on your specific business. The Enterprise plan also includes a few additional features:
- Stronger Reporting Features: View reporting on postage expenses by each user, office location, and more. You can also view historical purchase trends from the past two years and expenses related to supplies and insurance.
- User Permissions: With Enterprise, you can manage your employees’ access to the software and set restrictions on postage purchases.
- Account Manager: Each Enterprise plan includes a dedicated account manager. This account manager provides personalized customer support.
How Does Stamps.com Work?
Stamps.com is both a downloadable and cloud-based software that lets you purchase and print postage on any printer. Stamps.com is easy to use, and the web-based version of the software works with any computer. The downloadable software, on the other hand, is only compatible with PCs. While Stamps.com does not offer a mobile app, you can use the online version of the software on your mobile web browser. Stamps.com’s web-based software differs slightly from the downloadable software. The web-based software has fewer built-in features.
Compared to most full shipping software, Stamps.com is a bit limited in general. That said, Stamps.com still does a good job of fulfilling its purpose: simplifying the process of purchasing postage from the USPS. Here are a few of the features Stamps.com offers:
- Bulk Printing Options: Print shipping labels for all of your orders at once.
- Print Packing Slips: You can only add custom graphics (such as a logo) if you’re using the downloadable PC version of the software.
- Print Postage: You can print shipping labels and stamps. You can also print addresses and postage directly onto envelopes.
- Send Return Shipping Labels: If a customer requests to return a product, you can create a return shipping label and send it via email.
- Schedule USPS Pickups: Schedule pickup times directly from Stamps.com’s admin panel.
- Purchase Shipping Insurance: Select this option when you go to purchase postage. Insure shipments up to $10,000 in value.
- Send Notification Emails: Let customers know when their orders have shipped.
- Online Reporting Dashboard: View package tracking details.
- View Reports: Establish “Cost Codes” to track your purchases and more.
- Print From Any Printer: You don’t need to buy a fancy printer to print postage.
- SCAN Forms: Include multiple shipments in one barcode.
- Thermal Printers: Stamps.com supports the leading brands of thermal printers.
- Hide Postage Cost: Send labels that do not display postage costs.
- Advanced Services Available: Sign up (free!) for Stamps.com’s Global Advantage Program, which gives you access to services for flats and large envelopes, automated customs forms, instant shipping refunds, free $100 insurance, and free end-of-day pickup.
- Support: Contact support representatives with email, live chat, and unlimited telephone support.
- Automation: Use a variety of tools to have Stamps.com automatically select the right shipping options for your orders.
Benefits Of Stamps.com
With all this talk of “limited features,” why would you choose to sign up for Stamps.com? In truth, Stamps.com may not be right for many online sellers. Larger businesses (which often need to purchase postage from multiple shipping carriers) likely require more features than Stamps.com can offer. However, for smaller merchants, Stamps.com might fill a need perfectly.
The first benefit of using Stamps.com is the price. At $17.99/month, Stamps.com is cheaper than most other shipping software solutions, especially if you’re shipping between 50 and 500 orders a month. Also, a subscription with Stamps.com gives you access to discounted shipping rates from USPS.
What’s more, Stamps.com is simple to learn. Because it is a bare-bones tool, there isn’t a whole lot to figure out to get shipping. What’s more, Stamps.com does a great job with its support documentation. You can find answers to many of your questions with a quick search.
- Postage discounts available
- A convenient way to purchase postage
- Affordable for some businesses
Downsides Of Stamps.com
Stamps.com is far from a perfect solution. I’ve seen multiple reports online that blame Stamps.com for charging them a monthly fee during their trial period. These merchants claimed that it was difficult to have that amount refunded to them. You should note that if you go one day beyond Stamps.com’s four-week trial period, you will be charged the monthly fee for that initial trial period.
Other users called Stamps.com a “scam” because the company continued to bill them after they had stopped using the software. It seems that it can be difficult to cancel Stamps.com once you’ve opened an account. Some merchants had to wait on hold a long time to do so. Other merchants had simply forgotten to cancel their accounts and wish that Stamps.com had been proactive about notifying them of continued monthly payments.
I have also seen reports of glitches, crashes, and clumsy updates. In particular, merchants complain that Stamps.com Online is limited in its features, and if you’re using a Mac, it can be a real pain.
- Hard to cancel a subscription
- Works best for PC users
- Too expensive for personal use
Who Should Use Stamps.com?
Stamps.com best fits smaller sellers who ship between 50 and 500 orders per month. It’s also best for merchants who were previously using USPS exclusively for their shipments.
Merchants who ship fewer than 50 orders per month would be better off signing up for a free plan with a shipping software such as ShipStation or ShippingEasy. Those who ship over 500 orders per month would also benefit from the advanced features of these software solutions, even though plans cost about $10 more per month.
How Do I Get Started With Stamps.com?
To begin using Stamps.com, you must first sign up for a four-week trial. Provide your name, address, and credit card information. Then, you’ll create a login and password.
Note: This trial is “free” for your first four weeks, but if you stay with Stamps.com for one more day, you will be billed for that trial period.
Next, you can integrate your online store and any marketplaces you use (take a look at Stamps.com’s list of integrations to see if your shopping cart is already connected). This lets you quickly import your orders directly into your Stamps.com admin.
When I tested Stamps.com, I first synced my Shopify store with the shipping software. I was pleased to see that my Shopify orders transferred over immediately.
Processing orders is simple. Just select the shipping method and the packaging you plan to use with your shipment and purchase the postage.
If you run into trouble, support materials are available online, and you can contact a support representative Monday-Friday from 6 AM-6 PM PT.
Is Stamps.com For Me?
Is Stamps.com worth it? The answer depends entirely on whether it fits with your business model. If so, I highly recommend that you sign up for a trial with the platform. Keep in mind that you’re providing Stamps.com with your credit card information to create this trial. If you forget to cancel the service after those initial four weeks, you will be charged the monthly fee.
Make sure you vet Stamps.com thoroughly during your trial period. Try using the software to process all of your orders for a week, so you’re sure it will fit into your workflow. Test out advanced features and dive into the support resources with any questions you may have. Stamps.com may just be what your business needs!
Click below to sign up for a trial of Stamps.com or check out our shipping software reviews to see your other options.