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Save Money on Shipping: The Difference Between First-Class Package Services and Priority Mail Services The first step for business owners is knowing your options, and the costs.

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When it comes to sending mail and packages, it's easy to wind up overpaying. There are so many services and so many service providers, it's simple to choose the wrong one if you don't understand all of the details.

"Historically, companies have overspent on shipping by about 13 percent annually," says Jamie Cohen, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Pitney Bowes. "With shipping rates increasing, new fees and surcharges being added throughout the year, and the number of packages shipped each year on the rise overspending on shipping is likely to increase."

For small businesses, every dollar counts. Most expenses like salaries, rent, and insurance are fixed, so it's important for business owners to make the most of every dollar and save wherever they can. "Shipping is a great place to reduce costs and when the optimal shipping choices are made can deliver significant savings," Cohen says.

Thankfully, a simple solution like SendPro® Online from Pitney Bowes can help businesses save money in numerous ways. Here, Cohen outlines differences between First-Class Mail® services and Priority Mail® services and explains how business owners can save money when sending larger items and packages.

Mail and smaller packages: First-Class Mail services

First-Class Mail services include most types of mail that you'd find in your mailbox, from postcards and letters, to flats and lightweight parcels. "It's an affordable service for standard-sized, single-piece envelopes weighing up to 3.5 oz. (First-Class Mail) and large envelopes and small packages weighing up to 13 oz. (First-Class Retail Packages) with delivery in four business days or less," Cohen explains.

If you're sending a package via First-Class Package Service, USPS Tracking® is included. Insurance is also available, at an additional cost.

The Retail price for small packages starts at $4. However, you can save up to 28.4 percent1 with Commercial-based pricing available when you use an online postage solution like SendPro Online, Cohen says. Rather than using stamps or a meter tape, SendPro prints a full delivery label with prices starting at just $3.01. The other benefit of SendPro's Commercial pricing is that it allows send heavier items as a First Class Package - up to 15.9 oz.

Larger shipments, plus more: Priority Mail

When using stamps or a traditional meter for USPS, and your mail piece weighs more than 13 oz., it must be sent via Priority Mail® services. "Priority Mail combines value and speed, with free package pickup service at your home or office, $50 of included insurance and USPS Tracking included when you print postage online or at the Post Office," Cohen explains.

Pricing is generally based on weight and zone and starts at a retail rate of $7.70. Those shipping with an online postage solution like SendPro Online can unlock Commercial-based rates and save up to 40.3 percent off Retail prices.2

Business owners also have the option to use Priority Mail Flat Rate® packaging, where you pay one price across all zip codes. "There's no need to weigh parcels or calculate postage for any parcel up to 70 pounds," Cohen explains. "Simply add a pre-printed barcode label or full shipping label, and you're ready to send."

Flat rate pricing begins at $7.75, and senders can unlock savings up to 12 percent off Priority Mail Flat Rate® shipments with commercial-based rates available in online postage solutions.3

When it comes to delivery time, First-Class Mail® and Priority Mail® delivery typically takes up to four days. If you're looking for expedited services, Cohen says Priority Mail Express offers delivery guarantees (all other carriers except USPS have suspended this) starting at $26.35 for retail rates and $22.75 for Commercial-based rates available in online postage solutions like SendPro Online.

Bottom line

The service you select for your business' needs will likely be determined by specific criteria like weight, size, destination, and delivery time requirements. First-Class Package Service should be considered for any parcels weighing less than 1lb. "While First-Class Mail services offer the best price for mail and packages that weigh less than a pound, there are some benefits Priority Mail services offer shippers that First-Class Mail services does not, including free boxes and envelopes, free insurance up to $100, and for Priority Mail Express, delivery on Sundays in certain areas," Cohen says.

Knowing the best service to use doesn't need to be a difficult decision. "SendPro Online takes the guesswork out of shipping with the USPS for you," Cohen says. "It presents you with the available service options based upon your package weight and dimensions and also unlocks savings with Commercial pricing," offering small businesses big savings on mailing and shipping.

Click here to learn more about how SendPro Online can simplify the process of sending packages and save your business money on shipping.

1 Based on a First-Class Mail Package service savings on a 5-lb to 8-lb, Zone 4 shipment.
2 Based on a 10lb, Zone 4 shipment.
3 Based on a Large Flat Rate Box.