Change is rarely easy, and this is especially true when you’re talking about changing your primary shipping carrier. Your shipping system touches every part of your organization, impacting finance, vendor management, sales, marketing, customer service and, of course, fulfillment operations. It’s one reason that fewer than eight percent of companies switch their primary carrier in any given year — it’s just too hard.
Switching from UPS or FedEx to the US Postal Service has always had its own challenges — learning new rules and rate structures are part of the learning curve (and well worth it when you see the savings!), but the technology transition has been perhaps the most daunting. The good news is that developments in technology platforms are now having a dramatic impact on the ease and convenience of switching your shipping
business to the U.S. Postal Service.

New Technology Makes It Easier than Ever Before
So what are these key technologies, and how are they helping professional shippers take advantage of the benefits of shipping with the Postal Service? 
Dedicated rate-shopping tools — Sometimes you can’t shift all of your shipments to the Postal Service. Until now, the difficult part has been identifying and switching the right shipments. Today, dedicated Postal Service rate-shopping tools allow you to make the right decision about every single package, in real time. Instead of costing thousands of dollars, these tools are now available virtually for free and can be installed and configured in 15 minutes. This is a technology that can save you money immediately.

Third-generation web services applications — SOAP-based web services applications allow shippers to integrate their systems directly into Postal Service’s online postage providers for rapid and seamless processing of shipping labels. The latest  generation of dedicated shipping applications capitalizes on the flexibility and customization of a web services platform while delivering the reliability and scalability required of high performance shipping systems.

Deep e-commerce integrations — Are you shipping on eBay or Amazon.com? Using Google checkout? Are you already using powerful order management or logistics software such as ReadyShipper, Nexxio, Shipworks, Malvern Systems, Webgility, Atandra or running your business on QuickBooks? Switching to the Postal Service from another carrier can be done in minutes, just by setting up an account with an online postage provider. 

Successful Transitions to the US Postal Service
Customers increasingly cite technology not as a barrier but as a reason they are making the switch. Anna Ameduri, Vice President, Logistical Development at Glidewell Laboratories describes their recent experience: “In the current economic environment, cost savings is critical, but we couldn’t have considered adding the Postal Service as one of our preferred couriers without the technology and technical support to make
the process seamless. We’ve been honestly impressed with the level of attention and technical assistance we’ve received throughout this process.”

United Shipping Solutions (USS), of Salt Lake City, Utah, has launched a high-profile partnership with the Postal Service as a nationwide sales and marketing partner. Once a substantial DHL sales partner, USS is now fully integrated with the Postal Service, offering small parcel shipping services to its 50,000 customers nationwide. Jesse Moore, Chief Technology Officer, describes the process of making the switch from DHL to
the Postal Service as, “…surprisingly easy. We used technology and integration tools from Stamps.com, our postal technology partner, to get fully integrated in less than four weeks, start to finish. Their integration support team was there every step of the way, and the technology itself has been stable, reliable and maintenance-free.”

So if the cost-savings, convenience, reliability and unparalleled reach are driving you (like many others) to switch to the Postal Service, don’t be surprised to find that the technology available will make the transition easier than you might have imagined. As the Postal Service aggressively takes market share in the parcel market, state-of-the-art, easy-to-use technology is one of the best weapons in its arsenal.

JEFF CROUSE is the vice president of marketing, shipping solutions at Stamps.com, a leading provider of online postage, shipping software, services and developer solutions for Postal Service customers. He can be reached at 310-482-5895 or jcrouse@stamps.com
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