The U.S. Postal Service continues to provide reliable universal services at affordable prices. For many companies, the Postal Service is often the least costly method of shipping, both domestically and internationally. It offers flat-rate envelopes and boxes that ship anywhere in the world for a low cost, regardless of weight. Its Priority Mail service is oftentimes faster than like services offered by private carriers. The Postal Service has no hidden fees, such as residential and rural surcharges, address correction fees, fuel surcharges and higher weekend delivery rates. The Postal Service also allows shipment to ship to PO Boxes, APO and FPO.

    With the recent regulatory changes, the Postal Service has become more business focused, fostering growth and innovation in the mailing industry. For example, the Postal Service has released new rates, a new flat rate box and a lower minimum for co-branded packaging supplies. As the US economy is slowing down, the USPS is still focused on growth in markets like business to consumer shipments. The slowdown in the economy may be slowing business-to-business shipping, but with faster Internet connections and secure purchasing sites, many consumers are more confident in buying online. More online shopping translates to an increase in business-to-consumer shipping. As online retailers examine their bottom lines, many are searching for cost-effective, reliable solutions for shipping their products to consumers. One solution for online retailers who are shipping business to-consumer via the Postal Service is a shipping application programming interface (API).

    An API is a basic language and message format used by an application to communicate with an operating system. Possible applications for shipping APIs include eCommerce websites, online marketplaces and trading environments acting as a liaison between buyers and sellers. Shipping APIs offer one of the most adaptable and dynamic ways to eliminate the challenges of processing postal shipments. Take, for example, Endicias shipping API, Label Server, which enables companies/users to determine US postal costs instantly and accurately by validating a customers address and automatically generating a pre-paid/ramp-ready shipping label. By
    using a shipping API, retailers are able to support most, if not all, of the following USPS services: First Class Letter & Flats (up to 3.5 ounces with Confirm Services), First Class Parcel, Priority, Parcel Post, Media Mail, Library Mail and Bound Printed Matter (with free or discounted Delivery or Signature Confirmation), Express Mail and discounted Priority and Express Mail International (with integrated customs forms). Shipping APIs are easily incorporated into a number of applications such as online shopping carts, websites, fulfillment/distribution centers and multi-location/multi-user applications. This allows companies/users to ship packages via the Postal Service within their existing workflows while leveraging all the benefits of Internet Postage, including free or discounted services, discounted international mail and third party insurance.

    With over 155 stores located in the Northeast, Olympia Sports relies on a shipping API for a key element of their customer service. Its not unusual for a customer to find the perfect pair of running shoes, baseball glove or hockey jersey at an Olympia Sports location but that particular store may not always have the right size or color. Like many retailers, Olympia Sports salespeople have access to an inventory locator system to find the customers desired product at another store or in their warehouse. Instead of having the other store hold the item, or having it shipped from store to store, the customer can buy the item and have it shipped directly to their home with the help of a shipping API. Olympia Sports offers this unique service for free, and the customer doesnt pay for shipping.

    Heres how it works: a customer is shopping at Olympia Sports store in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the Bloomsburg store does not have the color shoe he is looking for. After entering the customers address information, an employee at the Bloomsburg store locates the item the customer wants at Olympia Sports store in Ellsworth, Maine. A salesperson in the Ellsworth, Maine store then packs the item and prints the pre-paid USPS shipping label with the customers address from their Point-Of-Sale software integrated with a shipping API. The employee then applies the shipping label to the box. The next day, the package is picked up by a Postal Carrier and the new pair of shoes  is delivered to the customers doorstep in 2-3 days. This seamless operation allows Olympia Sports to retain customers that may have gone to another store to buy the out-of-stock item. Happy customers are returning customers, and by using a shipping API, Olympia Sports has many happy customers. Paul Fitzpatrick, Director of Operations and Distribution at Olympia Sports notes, The support we have received from the local USPS staff and the employees at Endicia has been outstanding; they have all worked diligently to ensure the system works as we need it to. Paul estimates that they save about 45% on shipping costs using USPS compared to their previous carrier. Plus, no matter how many locations Olympia Sports decides to ship from, their shipping API allows them to use just one postage account. All 155 stores are sharing a single postage account, which means no more headaches for the accounts payable department.

    Using a shipping API for business-to-consumer shipping saves users time and money by providing them the savings and benefits of the Postal Service with direct integration into their application. Likewise, it provides users the opportunity to fully integrate the USPS in their product without up-front licensing or certification expenses. Additionally, since the shipping APIs are 100% web-based, users can eliminate the challenges of deploying and updating software. A shipping API is the perfect solution for business-to-consumer shipping.

    To learn more about shipping APIs, specifically Endicias Label Server, please visit