Are You Prepared for the USPS Changes to Priority Mail and Express Mail?

From discussions on discontinuing Saturday deliveries to the possible elimination of door-to-door delivery, there have been a number of conversations happening about the future of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

While there are several potential directions the USPS may take in the future, shippers should be aware of a few USPS service changes that already went into effect on July 28, 2013. While none of them affect postage rates, it’s important to stay informed, so that you can set accurate expectations with your customers.

Currently, this round of changes primarily affects Priority Mail and Express Mail. Here’s what’s changed and how your business can prepare:

Priority Mail

Priority Mail has long been a go-to shipping option for many retailers. For the most part, this service is staying the same. What is changing, though, is the way estimated delivery times are communicated and the amount of USPS insurance automatically available for these shipments.

In addition to changes in the design of its packaging, Priority Mail shipping labels will now include estimated delivery times. Priority Mail has always been advertised as a 1-to-3 day delivery option, but shippers didn’t really have visibility into exactly how long each particular package should take to be delivered. Now, however, instead of simply expecting that your package will arrive at its destination within this small window, you’ll be given a specific shipping time estimate based on origin and destination locations.

While this is a nice new perk, it’s important for both shippers and recipients to understand how it works to avoid confusion. The key piece of information to communicate to your customers is that Priority Mail does not include a guaranteed delivery time. While recipients may see the expected number of days until delivery, these are simply estimates and are not exact times for delivery.

Another new benefit to the Priority Mail service is the addition of $50 of free USPS insurance for shippers who qualify for Commercial Base pricing. Shippers who qualify for Commercial Plus postage pricing, which are high volume discounts, will get $100 of free USPS insurance coverage on their Priority Mail packages.

Express Mail

When it comes to Express Mail, the major adjustment to be aware of is that the name of the service itself has been changed. Rather than being called Express Mail, it’s now Priority Mail Express. The service will also include the new estimated delivery time labeling as stated above, and the same delivery standard that Express Mail guaranteed before is still in effect.

As a result, if you reference “Express Mail” in your shipping policies or checkout area, we recommend updating the language to reflect the new name. In addition, it may be helpful to offer your customers a short explanation, clearly communicating that this is the same service as Express Mail.

The last change is only cosmetic. Given the USPS’s name change, the former Express Mail packaging is being phased out to accommodate the new service title, as well as a fresh and updated look.

Fortunately, you don’t need to get rid of any packaging you have on hand, as you’ll be able to use it until it runs out. Once your supply runs out, you’ll receive the new packaging automatically, whether you order your materials online or pick them up from your local Post Office. It may also be wise to notify any of your employees that are involved in shipping your products ahead of time in order to avoid confusion.

Other Changes

One final update of note is that 13 new countries, in addition to Canada, are supporting international electronic Delivery Confirmation for the Priority Mail International Small Flat Rate Box and Flat Rate Envelope, as well as all First-Class Package International Service shipments. If you use these mail classes or package types, the new Delivery Confirmation is free when you ship to a participating country, making it a great new benefit for shippers.

That’s it for the major USPS changes that went into effect in July. Stay tuned to the USPS News page on the Endicia website or check out our latest webinar for more details on the Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express updates, as well as any other changes that come down the USPS pipeline!

For more news and tips, check out our FedEx vs. UPS vs. USPS shipping rates comparison page.

About Jessica Foth:

Jessica Foth - Product Marketing Manager for EndiciaAs Product Marketing Manager for Endicia, Jessica Foth develops and drives business strategy for the shipping market. Her various responsibilities include market analysis, program development and implementation, demand generation, and messaging. Prior to her role in Product Marketing, Jessica managed the Endicia Marketing Services team to develop, execute, and measure marketing campaigns, events, and customer communications. Jessica has a B.A. in Journalism & Strategic Communication from the University of Minnesota.

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