Shipping products that weigh under 1 pound can be difficult because, generally speaking, the product in the shipment is inexpensive and margins are already thin. So, finding the cheapest possible way to ship the product is necessary to keep costs down for the customer. But this is easier said than done. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a monopoly on pricing for shipments under 1lb. So, I'd like to provide some shipping tips so you can ensure your products arrive fast and at a reasonable price.
USPS First Class Mail
This is going to be the fastest and most expensive way to ship packages under 1lb. Delivery times for USPS First Class Mail are 1-3 days within the continental US. They offer free returns on undeliverable packages and address forwarding is also included. The packages are all trackable through the USPS website and include a delivery confirmation.
From 1 to 8 ounces, the pricing remain constant. But after 8 ounces, the pricing varies based on ounce weight. This product does not offer zone based pricing, so it is the same price whether shipping down the street or across the country.
USPS Standard Mail
Pricing for standard mail is going to be slightly less expensive, but does not come with free returns or address forwarding. Delivery times on these will be anywhere from 3-6 days approximately. This product also offers tracking and delivery confirmations.
This is a good product for what it is, but it does not provide enough cost savings over the First Class Mail product to justify using it over the faster delivery times and free returns.
While the USPS does have a monopoly on under 1lb shipments with ounce break pricing, there are companies that will take work out of USPS to get lower rates. These companies will consolidate, presort and drop the packages deeper into the postal network, thus getting a lower rate. A few examples of these are: UPS Mail Innovations, DHL eCommerce and OSM Worldwide (there are many more).
Using a mail consolidation service can provide some significant savings, but it also adds on to the delivery times. Delivery times can range anywhere from 7-10 days. The key to being able to use this effectively is to be very clear to your customers about these delivery times. Setting expectations will allow you to provide some slower delivery times without receiving too many customer service calls.
There aren't many choices for shipping packages under 1lb, but you do have some. Make sure to look at all your options and talk with several mail consolidation companies before making a decision on your shipping option. Many of them offer different service levels at very attractive pricing.