May 7 2010 08:46 AM

    You know all the ways the U.S. Postal Service can save you money in your shipping. From lightweight packages to residential and rural areas, it’s no secret that the Postal Service is the most economical, best service level option for some of your shipping. But have you considered how the USPS can change your negotiation strategy? They can, and many times, it’s just by being at the table.

    #1 – Take away the shipments they don’t want! Your cost with other carriers goes down when you take their least profitable packages out of the equation. If 30% of your packages are residential two-pound packages, your carrier is subsidizing those packages with the profits from your 15-pound business shipments. Imagine if they didn’t have to “waste” that money on those unnecessary lightweight residential deliveries; the heavier shipments would be even more profitable, giving you the opening to negotiate for better discounts on the packages they are most efficient at carrying. The Postal Service gives you low-cost shipping for your lightweight and residential shipments, while improving your pricing leverage with your heavier weight shipping. 

    #2 – The USPS keeps other carriers honest. When you invite the Postal Service to compete for your shipping business, you serve notice that you are looking at all of the options available. The issues of Residential Delivery Surcharges, Fuel Surcharges, Rural and Extended Area Surcharges are important to you. Once the USPS is part of your negotiation process, you should expect to get better rates for lightweight shipments. You may even get a break on those residential and delivery area surcharges! If the USPS is not a serious player at the table, no one is going to push the other carriers to be aggressive in those areas.

    #3 –The USPS can change how you negotiate. Once you factor in your packaging costs, pickup charges, surcharges, refused shipments, technology and equipment requirements and ongoing maintenance, you build an appreciation for the importance of issues beyond the base rate offered by your carrier. The USPS is a vocal proponent of options – free Priority Mail packaging; free Carrier Pickup; no Saturday delivery charge; free shipping software; etc. 

    #4 – Think Cube! – The USPS can change what you negotiate. With the launch of Commercial Plus Cubic pricing for Priority Mail, the USPS delivered a whole new weapon in your negotiations. Cubic pricing forces your carrier to think through your operational needs as well as your weight/zone distribution profile. Moreover, if you have discussed flat-rate pricing or cubic pricing with your carrier in the past, they just might be a little more receptive now than they’ve been in the past! 

    Without question, the Postal Service wants to be your carrier, and it is willing to compete for that business – on price, on reliability, on technology and on service levels. However, beyond negotiating with the Postal Service, the USPS should be an integral part of your overall negotiation strategy. It all starts with inviting them to the table.

    Jeff Crouse is the Vice President of Marketing for Shipping Solutions at, a leading provider of online postage, shipping software and developer solutions for Postal Service customers. Jeff frequently advises customers on technology solutions for optimizing USPS savings in their carrier mix. He can be reached at 310-482-5895 or