What Is Stamps.com & How Does It Work?
Looking to make your shipping easier? We'll walk you through everything you need to know about signing up for and using Stamps.com.
Ah, shipping. If your business depends on online shoppers, you can’t escape it — but that doesn’t mean you have to love it. In fact, it’s a smart step to make shipping so easy that you barely have to think about it. And for that, you need some good shipping software. Fortunately, there is a huge variety of good shipping options out there that can help alleviate this pain point, no matter how big or small your eCommerce business is. Today, we’re taking a closer look at just one of those options: Stamps.com.
Stamps.com makes shipping more affordable by offering deep discounts off published rates from both USPS and UPS. Stamps.com users can save up to 40% with USPS and up to 76% on UPS rates, as long as you’re shipping from the US. And that includes fast delivery: First class, Priority, and Priority Mail Express with USPS and UPS’s 2nd Day Air and Worldwide Expedited Services, in addition to UPS Ground.
Even better, Stamps.com offers easy integrations with popular marketplaces and online shopping carts. So if your customers are buying from you on Etsy, Amazon, or eBay, for example — or if you built your online store using Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, or some other popular options, you’re in luck. You can manage and ship all your orders from your Stamps.com account, using a direct integration. Best of all, you can even schedule package pickups, so you’ll never again have to make a mad dash to the post office before it closes.
If you like what you’re hearing so far, keep going. In this post, we’ll dive into the details, including the pros and cons of using Stamps.com, giving you the information you need to decide if it’s the right shipping solution for your small business.
Table of Contents
What Is Stamps.com?
Stamps.com is simple online shipping software that lets users purchase postage from the USPS or UPS from their home or office computer. And it integrates with many online stores, making Stamps.com an easy, convenient, and affordable shipping solution for businesses that don’t ship in high volume.
How Does Stamps.com Work?
Stamps.com makes shipping easy, and of course, that means you can expect the software itself to be easy to use. Getting started is a snap. All you’ll need is a computer with a current browser and a regular printer (ink-jet or laser).
- Start A Stamps.com Account: You can download the Stamps.com software for free, or use the cloud-based version through your internet browser. You’ll need to enter some information, such as your name, phone number, and physical address. (You can create a Stamps.com account for your personal use, too, and not just a business account.) In return, you’ll receive a digital scale; the scale is free though you’ll have to pay a shipping and handling fee.
- Build Your Address Book: Your contacts will be imported automatically from MS Outlook or other popular address books and contact management software to Stamps.com. You can edit or add more at any time.
- Hook Up Your Scale: Remember that free scale you got in the mail? It’s time to pull it out and start using it. The free scale works on packages up to five pounds. If you need something larger, you can upgrade and weigh up to 35 pounds. The scale will connect automatically with your computer and integrate with your Stamps.com account.
- Add UPS As A Carrier: If you intend to use USPS only, you can skip this step. However, it’s free to add UPS as an option to your Stamps.com account, and you may end up saving money if you do. From your Stamps.com dashboard, click the Settings icon and select the Carriers tab. Then click Add and choose UPS. After you agree to the terms, UPS will show up in Stamps.com as a carrier.
- Print Out Postage: Using the weight calculated by your integrated scale, Stamps.com software will give you delivery estimates and costs for all available USPS services. Select the service you want and then print the exact postage needed for each package. Use any printer to print postage on standard labels, on envelopes, or on plain paper. Stamps.com connects with the USPS database to verify delivery addresses. Affix the postage label to your package, and it’s ready to send off.
- Schedule Or Drop Off: If you’re shipping with USPS, you can schedule a USPS pickup or drop packages off at the post office. With postage printed using Stamps.com, you can even drop packages weighing over the 13-ounce limit right into a mail collection box. If you’re using UPS, you can drop packages at a UPS Store or a retail partner (such as CVS, Advanced Auto Parts, or Michaels), hand them to a UPS driver, or use a dropbox or other drop-off location. You can also receive a discount on on-call pickup if scheduled through Stamps.com. Expect to pay $3.80.
- Track Packages: After the package is mailed, the most important question is: when will it arrive? Use Stamps.com tracking to access one-click tracking on all your packages. Stamps.com keeps records of the postage you print, so you can track your shipping history, too.
Stamps.com Features For Small Businesses
In general, compared to most full shipping software, Stamps.com is a bit limited. That said, Stamps.com does a good job of fulfilling its purpose: simplifying the process of purchasing postage from the USPS and UPS. 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 package, you can create a return shipping label with prepaid postage and send it via email.
- Schedule USPS and UPS Pickups: Schedule pickup times directly from Stamps.com’s admin panel.
- Purchase Shipping Insurance: Select this option when you go to purchase postage to insure shipments for up to $10,000 in value.
- Send Notification Emails: Let customers know when their orders have shipped. Notification emails can include tracking information, delivery address, mailing date and class, estimated delivery time, order details, special services, and a customizable personal note.
- Online Reporting Dashboard: View package tracking details.
- View Reports: Establish “Cost Codes” to track your purchases or for a department, categorize and review postage expenditures by project, export data for further analysis, and more.
- Print From Any Printer: You don’t need to buy a fancy printer to print postage. Thermal printers work but are not required.
- SCAN Forms: Include multiple shipments in one barcode and access USPS Acceptance SCAN (shipping confirmation acceptance notice) so you and your customers can access shipping information.
- Hide Postage Cost: If you charge customers for “shipping and handling” use the Hidden Postage feature to print labels that do not display postage costs.
- Advanced Services Available: Sign up for Stamps.com’s free Global Advantage Program and you gain access to special services for international shipping. That includes automated customs forms, shipping in lower-cost flat packages, shipping concierge, instant shipping refunds, free $100 insurance, global address verification, and free end-of-day pickup.
- Support: Contact support representatives with email and unlimited telephone support. You’ll also find blog articles, videos, and free webinars that can help you get the most from your Stamps.com account.
- Automation: Use a variety of tools to have Stamps.com automatically select the right shipping options for your orders. You can import orders, fulfill orders faster, and access lower shipping costs.
Do I Need Special Equipment?
You won’t need any special equipment to use your Stamps.com account. As long as you have a computer with a current browser, an internet connection, and an ordinary office printer, you’re all set. You don’t even need any special labels to print postage on. The only special equipment required is the postage scale that Stamps.com sends you when you sign up for the service.
Stamps.com offers three levels of service to its users. The price is the same whether you use the web-based software or install it directly. Be aware that the cost of postage is not included in the monthly subscription.
Stamps.com lets new users sign up for a four-week trial period, with a hitch. If you like Stamps.com and sign up for a paid account, you will be charged for the first month you used the service. When you sign up for the free trial, you’ll receive a credit for $5 in postage that you can use during the trial period. After the trial, you’ll receive two $10 postage coupons; you can redeem one per month.
Here are the subscription plans:
Stamps.com’s Pro plan is priced at $17.99/month and includes these benefits:
- One user at a single location
- 10 reference codes (cost codes)
- Customer support via phone and email
- Free digital scale
Stamps.com’s Premier plan is priced at $24.99/month and includes everything on the Pro plan, plus:
- 3 users at a single location
- 50 reference codes
Stamps.com’s Enterprise plan has custom pricing, depending on your needs. It includes these benefits:
- 3 or more users, at multiple locations
- Printable certified mail forms
- Dedicated account manager
- 1,000 reference codes
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 USPS Commercial Base, Commercial Plus, Cubic Pricing, and Negotiated Service Agreements. Here are the available USPS discount rates:
- Up to 16% on all Priority Mail Express shipments
- Up to 40% on Priority Mail shipments
- Up to 28% on First Class Package Service shipments
- Up to 7% on international shipments
- Up to 40% on package insurance
Stamps.com users can access UPS discounts too:
- Up to 66% for UPS 2nd-Day Air
- Up to 50% on UPS Ground
- Up to 76% on UPS Worldwide Expedited Services
For more information on the available price plans and features, read our full Stamps.com review.
Types Of Businesses Best Suited For Stamps.com
Stamps.com best fits smaller sellers who ship between 50 and 500 orders per month. It’s also good for merchants who were previously using USPS and UPS exclusively for their shipments.
Merchants who ship fewer than 50 orders per month would be better off signing up for a free plan with shipping software such as Shippo, 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 To Set Up A Stamps.com Account
As mentioned, when signing up for a Stamps.com account, new users enter into a four-week trial period. It’s billed as a free trial because you don’t have to pay during the four weeks you’re testing Stamps.com. However, if you decide to keep using the software, you’ll be back-billed for the trial period.
During the trial, you’ll receive several freebies:
- Free postage scale. You will be billed $9.99 or less for shipping and handling.
- $5 free postage
- Free postage labels you can use to print postage from Stamps.com. However, you don’t need to use those labels; you don’t need to use labels at all, unless you want to.
To sign up, visit Stamps.com online. Because Stamps.com users are issued a license to print official US postage, the USPS requires registration information that includes a name, telephone number, and physical address where postage will be printed. You will need to enter credit card information in order to sign up for an account. The postage you print and use will be charged to the credit card you enter.
Once your account is up and running, be sure to integrate your online store and the marketplaces you sell on. That lets you quickly import orders directly into your Stamps.com admin. Stamps.com offers integrations to nine shopping carts and five marketplaces. See the website for a full list.
How To Cancel A Stamps.com Account
If you decide Stamps.com is not for you, cancel during your first four weeks and you’ll owe nothing. You can cancel online or by phone. Your service will continue uninterrupted, until you cancel. You’ll be billed at the base rate of $17.99 per month, including the first month.
After the trial period, you can cancel at any time to stop using the service.
What To Consider Before Using Stamps.com For Your Business
- Easy to use
- Postage discounts
- Affordable for some businesses
- Not suited for medium to large users
- Limited carriers
Stamps.com is a good online postage service that performs as advertised. However, in practice, Stamps.com may not be right for many online sellers. Larger businesses likely require more features than Stamps.com can offer, especially the ability to ship with more carriers than just USPS and UPS. However, for smaller merchants, Stamps.com might fill a need perfectly, so don’t dismiss the software out of hand if you fit into that category.
Why is Stamps.com a good option for smaller shippers? The first reason 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. More important, a subscription with Stamps.com gives you access to discounted shipping rates from USPS and UPS that can more than pay for the monthly cost of using the software.
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. And Stamps.com does a great job with its support documentation and support options. You can find answers to many of your questions with a quick search. If not, answers could be just a phone call or email away.
It’s important to note, too, that Stamps.com doesn’t earn full marks from all users. 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. That could be caused by the somewhat confusingly presented trial period. Although Stamps.com does not use the word “free” in describing the trial, it’s uncommon, though not unheard of, to back charge software users following a trial period. You should note that if you go one day beyond Stamps.com’s four-week trial period, you will be charged the full monthly fee for the introductory 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, the software may not work well overall.
Is Stamps.com Right For You?
At Merchant Maverick, we believe that using shipping software is just one of the smart shipping strategies that business owners should be putting into practice. That’s especially true when you add in significant discounts on shipping costs that more than make up the monthly subscription cost.
Still, small business owners and those working to turn a side hustle into a cash stream may find that an advanced shipping solution may be overkill. If you’re used to loading up all your packages and driving them to the nearest post office, Stamps.com may be the time- and money-saving solution you’re looking for. Larger organizations shipping more than 500 packages would be wise to look at other shipping software solutions that are better suited to their needs.
At the same time, Stamps.com’s relative simplicity compared to its cost may mean it’s not the ideal solution for your business. Fortunately, you have a lot of good options to choose from. Check out our list of this year’s best shipping solutions to find the one that will fit your business best.
If you’re curious about Stamps.com, we suggest giving the software a try. Use the four-week trial period to vet Stamps.com thoroughly during your trial. Use the software to process all your orders for a week, so you’ll see how it will fit into your workflow. Test out advanced features and dive into the support resources with any questions you may have. Set a reminder in your online calendar to make a decision before the end of your fourth week, or you will end up being charged for the month, even if you decide to cancel.
As long as you understand how the trial period works and keep track of the calendar, you have nothing to lose by testing the software. Stamps.com may just be what your business needs!