Billionaire investor and businessman Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Given the spate of recent rate increases by America’s two largest delivery companies, Buffet’s insightful observation as seen through the lens of America’s thousands of companies who send parcels is especially illuminating. 

Now more than ever, as the economy continues to seek firmer ground, savvy businesses should take a thorough look at what they are paying for parcel delivery services – and an even harder look at whether or not those providers are delivering sufficient bang for those bigger bucks.

That said, not much is gained by bemoaning price increases. They are often a necessary business reality, especially in a dynamic marketplace where one poorly-timed blizzard can wreak havoc on profit margins.

Still, parcel delivery customers do have choices, including the U.S. Postal Service, which has announced January 2011 price increases that will be less than those of private carriers. The Postal Service can often prove to be of greater value than other commercial delivery options – and that is especially true when businesses manage their shipping and mailing needs via electronic postage software, which can be the simplest, most affordable and most convenient domestic or international parcel delivery method.

Postage Technology – A Bevy of Benefits
Now, with over a decade of innovation, electronic postage – for mail and parcels – allows individuals or businesses to print from a computer as-needed postage, shipping labels and even customs forms for domestic and international delivery by the U.S. Postal Service. With billions in postage printed over that time, and with increasingly-sophisticated but simple-to-use software, electronic postage provides numerous benefits for shippers of all size and frequency.

Perhaps the most important of these benefits is financial. Historically, the U.S. Postal Service is a very affordable way to mail and ship and using an electronic postage provider further minimizes costs. For example, recent U.S. Postal Service changes have increased the options for parcel shipments, including providing more opportunities for discount pricing at lower shipping volumes. Moreover, these discounts are often further enhanced by using electronic postage services (check with your provider for more details). 

An equally important and related advantage is the considerable time savings that can be garnered by using electronic postage for all shipping/mailing needs. Certainly the biggest, and most sustaining, is that buying and printing postage from your computer speeds up the mailing/shipping process and – importantly – virtually eliminates any trips to the Post Office. (On a side note, check to see if your electronic postage provider offers PC, Web and Mac access, in addition to potentially being integrated into other systems you may already be using for added flexibility; many do not.)

With an eye on labor costs, businesses can utilize electronic postage to either reduce the number of employees needed or make multi-tasking workers much more productive by keeping them at their desks rather driving to the Post Office. Those savings are further enhanced by the software’s ability to integrate seamlessly with order management and other existing software applications, thus avoiding time-consuming and mistake-likely re-keying of customer or order information.

Indeed, a significant benefit of electronic postage is users do not need to be experts in the nuances of domestic and international mailing and shipping rates, options and procedures. Users in essence are leveraging the expertise of their providers to deal with the complexity of preparing parcels for accurate and speedy delivery by relying on the software to make smart decisions for them.

The user-friendly electronic postage software guides the user every step of the way, from helping select the right delivery option to automatically filling out all relevant shipping forms. If the parcel needs to be shipped internationally, some electronic postage providers include in their software all cost and delivery standards and options for a particular destination, as well as that country’s prohibitions, restrictions and areas served. 

Of course, over-arching benefits of electronic postage lie in the reliable and increasingly-flexible services of the U.S. Postal Service, which features great rates and a 200-country reach. For instance, a new Priority Mail option – Critical Mail – has just been launched for high-volume users of letters and flats. Flat Rate shipping options continue to grow, and they are increasingly popular due to their predictable pricing regardless of weight. These new options also reflect how the U.S. Postal Service continues to respond to the various shipping needs of businesses.

Also, the U.S. Postal Service – unlike most private carriers – has no hidden fees, surcharges or complicated minimum requirements that often serve to jack-up the advertised rate and may only appear on the invoice you get long after the package may have been shipped. What you see is what you get, rate-wise, from the U.S. Postal Service, including new and lower minimums to be eligible for volume discounts or rebates. 

Harkening back to the brilliance from billionaire Buffet – “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” –and it seems clear that in a world of tight margins and squeezed budgets, true value stems from products or services that tangibly boost business. With money and time savings, and revenue-enhancing opportunities, electronic postage can truly bring value well beyond its affordable price. 

U.S Postal Service, Priority Mail, Postal Service, Post Office and Critical Mail are among the many trademarks of the United States Postal Service. 
As General Manager for DYMO Endicia, Amine Khechfe is responsible for directing all aspects of the DYMO Endicia business unit as well as managing its position within the Newell Rubbermaid Technology Global Business Unit. For more information, please