What is Stamps.com?
Stamps.com is a Nasdaq quoted company and a market leader provider of internet-based postage services aimed at small business, and online retailers. It enables users, armed with just a computer, printer and internet connection to print, from their office or home, US Postal Service-approved postage, without them having to go to their local post office. The vendor currently has partnerships with the likes of Microsoft and HP, as well as the US Postal Service itself.
A publicly traded company on the NASDAQ – it appears under the symbol STMP – Stamps.com was the first company which the US Postal Service approved to offer a software-only postage service to its customers, allowing them to buy and print postage online. It currently has 735,000 monthly subscribers, with current customers including well-known names like Mattel, John Deere, Regus Offices and Taylor Made.
By the nature of its business, this service is aimed exclusively at US-based businesses.
The main benefits offered by Stamps.com are:
One of the most obvious benefits of the service provided by Stamps.com is the amount of time that it saves users. People can print their postage at home or in their office, and do not have to go to their local post office and wait in line.
Using Stamps.com is at least 50% cheaper than a traditional postage meter leased through companies like Pitney Bowes. Price comparisons have shown, for example, that a small business owner can save an estimated US $17 a month by using Stamps.com as opposed to MailStation 2 meter. Additionally, using the service requires no hardware costs– just an existing computer and printer and internet connection.
Furthermore, it is cheaper to use Stamps.com than it costs at the post office, because the cost of potage is not marked-up.
With automated forms the solution eliminates the manual effort involved in handwriting certified mail, international customs and return receipt forms, and saves time by enabling postage, addresses and forms to be printed in one step. Furthermore, logos or marketing messages can be added to all postal materials to give them a more polished and professional appearance.
Shipping Rate Discounts
Customers of Stamps.com can take advantage of a range of negotiated discounts on various shipping services. These include up to 13% on all Priority Mail Express shipments, 40% on Priority Mail Shipments and 25% on First Class Package Service shipments. Additionally up to 5% discount and international shipments and 40% on package insurance is offered.
Integration with UPS
Stamps’ functionality allows subscribers to integrate UPS shipping as part of their operations, whether this is needed for warehouse, transportation or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions. Users are also, through this integration, able to benefit from UPS low cost rates, leading to significant savings in terms of shipping costs.
Supports International Shipping
The program is designed to make international shipping easy and offers all USPS classes of international mail. It includes integrated Customs Forms; the program automatically selects the correct form and populates it with information such as delivery address, item quantity and product description. In addition, Stamps.com will notify users of applicable product restrictions for each country.
The program automatically includes the date, the name of the sender and an automatic electronic “round stamp” on the Customs Form which means that an international package can be mailed in the normal way without a visit to the Post Office being required.
Security Controls and Fraud Detection
Password protection is offered to all users to prevent unauthorised use of the system. Multiple people can access an account, but only one computer can be logged in at any time (only the subscriber has paid for a multi-user account). Postage amounts printed can be traced back to individual computers helping to prevent employee fraud, whilst reference code enable easy expense tracking and the ability to see how postage funds are being spent by people.
The features offered by the program can be categorised by customer type.
Small Office Mailers
For small business owners, the program allows them to buy, calculate and print easily official United States Postal Service (USPS) postage for all sorts of material – postcards, envelopes, and packages – both for domestic and international mailing. These can be printed either on plain paper, on a variety of labels or envelopes.
Every account is provided with a free Stamps.com scale, which takes the guesswork out of estimating postal costs. A user just needs to place their letter or package on the scales, it will be weighed, and the software will calculate the cost, and the correct postage amount is then printed. Users have the option to select the best mail class based on criteria such as delivery time and price.
The software keeps a detailed record of all the postage that a business prints, and allows them to assign cost codes for different clients or customers, making it easy to control postage spending. In addition users have the option to personalise their mailings with full-colour or customised stamps, or add logos or marketing messages to shipping labels or envelopes.
Additional functionality includes the ability to import addresses from existing address books, and print postage from QuickBooks, Outlook, Microsoft Word and others. Additionally, the program offers users the facility to import their contacts directly into the program from popular contact management programs. .
Stamps.com enables users to manage and ship orders from all their stores via a simple dashboard. The software will import orders through direct integrations with online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, as well as shopping carts, .csv files and more. Platforms supported, apart from Amazon and eBay, include Etsy, Shopify, Volusion, PayPal, and Magento. Subscribers need to simply connect with the relevant platform, click, connect and ship.
Online sellers also get instant package tracking information, with the option to send an email notification to customers once their order has been shipped. The program also enables subscriber to process orders faster through workflow automation tools, which includes automatic domestic address cleansing, the ability to print multiple labels, add order tags based on products ordered, and use pre-sets to apply shipping preferences to multiple orders.
The application enables USPS shipping services to be integrated into a company’s existing warehouse workflow, and to customise shipping processes to match their business needs. Functionality includes the ability to select the best rates based on customer preferences and custom shipping rules, and to link multiple warehouses and workstations. They can auto generate USPS-compliant labels and documents, and improve shipping efficiencies and transportation costs.
The solution makes it easy to fulfil e-commerce orders, whether one shipping label is printed at a time or as a batch. The need for manual data entry is eliminated because the software is able to retrieve order data from online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Yahoo and Google Checkout, as well as from a company’s online shopping cart. Stamps.com will also post-backorder data and shipping details to an Amazon or eBay online store. The program also has the ability to generate return shipping labels and to hide the postage value on labels, if required.
Corporate Postage Solutions
For those who need detailed easy-to-access mailing and shipping information, those under the Enterprise plan are offered a variety of reporting options. Detailed reports include postage expenses by user and office location, spending on postage by mail class, special service and reference code, and historical trends for the last two years of postage use. In addition, users can see supplies, insurance and all related expenses.
NetStamps are postage stamps that subscribers can print for themselves, either on rolls or specially-designed label sheets. They can be used for first class mail for both letters and envelopes, as well as domestic and international postage. The program offers a wide choice of designs; alternatively users can create their own personalised and customised designs.
The SCAN (Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice) form ensures that USPS scan packages when they are picked up by a mail carrier, or dropped off, and give customers assurance that their package is on its way to them. Stamps.com enables users, with just a few clicks, to create such a form. They then just need to hand it to the mail carrier or clerk who will use a scanner to scan the barcode on the form. This, in turn, creates an “Acceptance Event”; all packages associated with the form are recorded without the requirement of scanning each package on an individual basis.
The vendor offers three pricing tiers – Pro; Premier and Enterprise. All plans come with Customer Support and access to Stamps’ Learning Center.
Pro (US $15.99 per month): This plan is for one user with a single location, and offers one user access as well as 10 reference codes.
Premier (US $24.99 per month): Available for multiple users from within a single location and with a maximum of 3 users being able to access the program at the same time, this offers all the functionality of the Pro Plan plus 50 reference codes and printable, certified mail forms.
Enterprise: This Plan is by quotation only. It is intended for multiple users in multiple locations and provides additional functionality such as thousand reference codes, and dedicated account managers. This plan is by quotation only, so interested parties need to contact the vendor directly for more details.
(It should be noted that the monthly prices quoted do not include the cost of the postage itself; this is charged at cost).
The vendor offers an initial 4 week free trial and includes US $5 of free postage to use during that trial period. In addition, prospective users can contact the vendor to arrange for a product demo.
The service can be cancelled at any time without incurring service fees.
Stamps.com is a cloud-hosted web-based platform which supports Windows and Mac operating systems. No special hardware or software is required to install it a subscriber just needs a computer, printer and internet connection. The program enable users to print envelopes, stamps and shipping labels directly from their web browser. Users can print on plain paper, use their own envelopes or labels, or use the program’s own NetStamps labels, which can be used just like normal postage stamps. The application supports all printers – from laser and inkjet to high-speed thermal printers.
The program integrates with e-Commerce applications like Shopify, BigCommerce and ProStores, and shipping applications like DigitalShipper and ShipStation, as well as with online marketplaces like Sears and Etsy. In addition, orders can be imported from both Amazon and eBay into Stamps.com to enable shipping labels to be created and printed.
In terms of security, Stamps.com operates their service from two geographically diverse data centers, and incorporates redundancy at all levels of their operations. It also offers a 99.9% uptime.
Direct customer support is available via email on a 24/7 basis or by calling a toll-free number between 6 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday PST. There is also a live chat facility available through the website. All customer support staff are experienced logistics, supply chain and small parcel experts. Enterprise Plan subscribers additionally have access to a dedicated account manager as well.
The vendor can also be followed on the major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
In terms of self-service resources, subscribers are given a range of options including an online community forum where they can ask questions of other Stamps users and share product ideas. In addition there is a wide range of product guides and tips, a series of “how-to” video tutorials, FAQs, infographics, and a blog which features product and shipping news, as well as more generic topics aimed at the small business community.
In addition, the vendor offers free webinars, although most of them listed on their site were recorded years ago.
As regards training, the program is intuitive and easy to learn, but dedicated training staff are available to provide assistance and advice where required.
A range of office supplies such as envelopes, shipping boxes, stamp rolls and customisable, and patriotic stamps are available for purchase and order through the vendor’s online store.