June 2 2008 08:59 AM

At the Parcel Shipping & Distribution Forum in Chicago this past fall, we were privileged to be introduced to several new U.S. Postal Service products developed expressly to assist parcel shippers. For those of you who missed the show (or perhaps just want some more information), heres a recap.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The Postal Service helps you ensure that your shipments are signed, sealed and delivered from signing your shipment in with a new acceptance scan, to making sure USPS-supplied envelopes are sealed up tight, to keeping you up-to-date on delivery status with a re-designed online shipping application. These are just a few recent USPS developments that add value to the mail for shippers and individual customers alike. Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN); a new adhesive to seal Priority Mail, Express Mail and Global Mail envelopes; and a new version of the popular online Shipping Assistant application also add value for shippers.


Shipping Assistant

The Postal Services popular desktop Shipping Assistant application has been re-designed with new features to save customers time and money. The free and easy-to-use application combines label printing and package management in one program, which customers can download at their convenience from www.usps.com.


The new edition, Shipping Assistant 3.0, adds the ability to print customs forms and international mail labels, enhanced address book management tools, more user preferences and an integrated help component. Another new feature allows customers to schedule and manage Free Package Pickup requests right from the desktop applications.


Shipping Assistant is for all mailers, but particularly small- to mid-sized business customers who ship 50 to 200 packages a day, says Vice President for Product Development Nicholas Barranca. These customers need a powerful online shipping environment, and Shipping Assistant provides it in a new, cleaner and more user-friendly design.


Barranca says the new design allows customers to complete online shipping tasks in fewer steps. To save time, Shipping Assistant can pre-populate online form fields with frequently used customer data. Customers can work online or offline, printing labels immediately or saving them to a shipping cart to print later in a single batch. And, with the Shipping Assistant message center, customers can stay up-to-date on news that could affect their shipments. Other new shipping assistant features include:

The addition of new flat-rate shipping options. Shipping Assistant now offers two sizes of Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes (both using the same-sized label), large Global Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes and Priority Mail and Express Mail Flat-Rate envelopes

The ability to compare postage rates and estimated delivery times, including Express Mail commitments

Domestic address verification

The option for customers to review their mailing records and confirm shipment delivery status


Shipping Assistant was introduced in 2001 and is used by more than 100,000 customers. The new version replaces Version 2.2, released in July 2002. For more information and download instructions, customers can go to www.usps.com/shippingassistant/.


My Lopes Are Sealed

This is truly a behind-the-scenes (or more accurately, behind-the-flap) development to help mailers keep their shipments more secure. When Flat Rate Priority Mail was introduced, customers loved the service. And whats not to love, with the convenience of mailing a package or envelope regardless of weight or destination for one flat rate, as long as the contents fit inside and the envelope could be sealed without extra tape or extensions. Even better, like all Priority Mail supplies, the flat rate envelopes are provided free to mailers by the Postal Service.


The flat-rate options proved so popular that it wasnt long before envelopes filled to capacity were causing mail processing problems if the adhesive seal failed to hold. A quick solution came from the Postal Services Supply Management team, working with the packaging supplier.


The company added a primer to the flat-rate envelope, which allows the adhesive strip to bond more quickly and aggressively when its sealed. The primer also has been added to regular Priority Mail, Express Mail and Global Mail envelopes another quick, easy and convenient solution from USPS.


The U.S. Postal Service provides great savings opportunities for your package shipment needs. For more information, email us at Packageservices@usps.com, contact us through our website,
www.usps.com or contact your USPS Sales Representative.