Are USPS Boxes Free? USPS Can Help You Save on Shipping!
How USPS Can Help You Save Money on Shipping
For anyone who does an extensive amount of shipping, purchasing boxes and other shipping necessities can make a dent in your wallet. You need to deal with boxes, tape, envelopes, protective material for fragile objects – and that's before you even take your box to your mail carrier of choice and pay for the cost of shipping. And if you have an e-commerce website or you can’t quite stop selling things on eBay, those shipping costs will quickly add up.
For some businesses, you may be able to leave the shipping costs to your customers, but you still need to be cautious. Too high a shipping cost will dissuade people from purchasing your products at all, and setting the rate too low can lead to you trickling into the red. It doesn’t help that most online shoppers are accustomed to free shipping at a certain threshold, and services like Amazon Prime have paved the way for the expectation of purchases arriving in a couple of days with shipping included in the purchase price.
Fortunately, a solution to this dilemma exists, and it comes in the form of free shipping supplies.
Free Boxes From USPS
The evolving shipping demands of customers led to USPS implementing flat rate envelopes, which would later expand to involve flat rate boxes. Anyone can go to the post office and pick up these boxes for free. They work on the premise of “if it fits, it ships,” which gives plenty of options to anyone mailing a package and gives some breathing room to those who regularly mail higher-density objects.
You may start to feel suspicious at the notion. “Are USPS boxes free? Are they actually free?” The truth is you can pick up any flat rate priority mail supplies from the post office free of charge. You can also order them online, and USPS will deliver them to you so long as you create an account, have a physical address that can receive packages, and meet minimum delivery standards.
The boxes and tubes come in a variety of sizes to fit different objects. When you go to the post office, you can get as little or as many as you like. If you choose to order online, you can get boxes in packages of 10 or 25, and envelopes in sets of 10 or 100. Your order will arrive within 7-10 business days, but it can come much sooner.
The boxes aren’t all you can get for free. USPS also offers priority mail envelopes, shipping labels, and even stickers for special delivery instructions, like certain drop off times. These cover a lot of your options and can cover the needs of most small shipping services and e-commerce businesses.
What’s the Catch?
No service is without its restrictions, but the ones on USPS boxes are more than reasonable. One of the first rules of flat rate boxes is that you must use them for flat rate shipping – no exceptions.
Using them for any other purpose, like shipping through another mail service, is a crime. You also can’t choose to pay a different shipping rate, even if you want to opt for a more expensive service.
There are also some restrictions on "if it fits, it ships." Anything you can fit into a priority mail box or envelope will ship at the flat rate – so long as it weighs in at under 70 pounds. If you happen to have a weighty order, no matter the size, you'll have to pay more than the flat rate to send your package on its merry way.
The flipside of the weight requirement is that you’ll pay a set price no matter how little your package weighs. For most things, this is a great advantage. For very lightweight objects, you may be better off investigating how prices compare for regular shipping.
How This Saves You (and Your Business) Money
For people who only send a package now and then, it may not seem too bad to go pick up a box for a dollar. But when you're trying to grow an e-commerce business, that one dollar can add up to a scary amount over several shipments. The most obvious way USPS flat rate boxes save you money is that you don't have to spend money to get something to pack in.
The delivery option creates some less apparent savings, too: free boxes with free delivery means you can enjoy the convenience of getting them to your home without having to spend the time and gas to go to the post office to regularly pick up supplies.
The savings don’t stop there, either. As mentioned, these boxes are “flat rate” – meaning that, no matter what you put inside them, you see the same price, every time. This can save you a lot in shipping costs, especially when you regularly mail heavier objects. Because the cost is the same every time, you don’t have to worry about any surprises when it’s time to send a package, letting you more effectively manage your business budget. You also don’t need to worry about any delivery surcharges.
One of the other great advantages to USPS flat rate boxes is that they’re priority mail. Most packages will reach their destination in 2-3 business days. You can also pick up “express” boxes and envelopes from USPS, which cut delivery time down to 1 business day for an increased cost. You effectively get the same shipping options customers expect from Amazon and other big names without having to break the bank.
As an e-commerce business, you can also qualify for commercial flat rates. USPS has two commercial rates for lower- and higher-volume shippers, commercial base and commercial plus. These rates shave a few extra cents off smaller envelopes and a couple of dollars off bigger boxes which, like that lack of a dollar paid for every box, adds up to substantial savings over time.
For e-commerce businesses and frequent shippers, USPS flat rate boxes offer free shipping supplies and a quick and affordable option for getting your deliveries where they need to go.