USPS Shipping Options: What They Mean to Your Jewelry Business
Do you dread dropping off a shipment of jewelry because you fear that your package of valuables could be lost, damaged, or stolen?
Maybe that fear stems from the confusion about the options available when shipping a package. After all, there are numerous carriers to choose from and even one of the most widely accessible — The United States Postal Service (USPS) — has many services with different options.
Having an abundance of options for shipping your valuables can be stressful, but don't just cross your fingers and resort to an "out of sight, out of mind" thinking pattern. If you decide to use USPS to ship jewelry, get informed about the different types of service and protection they provide.
A glance at the USPS's Quick Compare matrix will show you eight services and 13 different options. That may be overwhelming, so let's simply take a look at a few options jewelry businesses are advised to use when deciding among USPS shipping options:
The difference between Priority Mail®, First-Class Mail® & Registered Mail™
First-Class Mail is similar to Priority Mail in terms of the options for protection and extra services, but it is only intended for envelopes and lightweight packages of 13 ounces or less. It's priced variably by size, weight, and shape, while Priority Mail is based on weight and zone (along with some flat rate options). USPS has a Postage Price Calculator to help you get a better idea of what it may cost.
Image Courtesy: USPS
Whether you select Priority Mail or First-Class Mail, the most important thing is to designate your package as Registered Mail. Not long ago, Registered Mail offered insurance up to $25,000, but today you can purchase up to $50,000 of insurance. Without it, the contents of your package may not be protected at all!
And don't be confused by the "Insured Mail" option that could be offered in place of Registered Mail. Insured Mail through USPS is not necessarily related to your regular insurance policy — it's a designation given by the post office that offers coverage against loss or damage up to $5,000.
If you have a jewelers block policy with Jewelers Mutual, check your coverage limits so you know the right amount of insurance to purchase through USPS if you need to. The last thing you want is to believe untrue myths about insurance for shipping jewelry.
Priority Mail Express®
Even though Priority Mail with Registered Mail insurance covering the full value of a shipment is preferred, sometimes the delivery time may not be fast enough.
If your shipment needs to be expedited, using Priority Mail Express might be a better option. It includes some of the same features of Priority Mail, but it can reach the intended destination on an overnight basis - even delivering on Sundays.
However, you can only designate it as Insured Mail, which covers up to $5,000.
Image Courtesy: USPS
There are other missing features that you need to be aware of as well:
- A Certificate of Mailing is not available - a receipt provided at the time of mailing is the only record you receive.
- While it is available when requested, a signature confirmation from the recipient is not guaranteed. If you do opt for Priority Mail Express, remember to explicitly request a signature.
- It's not as critical as the first two, but Priority Mail Express does not include a return receipt for merchandise either.
1) Choose your shipping option wisely
Ask yourself, "How quickly do I need this delivered?" This will help you determine if you absolutely need to utilize Priority Mail Express.
Knowing where you're shipping to will also aid in your decision. If you can wait an extra few days, always opt for Priority Mail or First-Class Mail with Registered Mail service added.
Lastly, the type of packaging option you choose will help protect your package beyond insurance for shipping jewelry.
2) Confirm the receipt from the post office.
Make sure all the services and extra features you are expecting are documented on your copy of the receipt — including the amount that the package is insured for.
This will help you to avoid any possible breakdown in communication. For instance, if you're in a rush and say, "I'd like the maximum coverage available," and your Priority Mail shipment is classified as Insured Mail instead of Registered Mail, you could unknowingly be lacking $45,000 worth of coverage.
Take your time, document everything, and have a solid understanding of the protection provided USPS shipping options, as well as any additional coverage that may be offered through the policy you have with your insurance company.
3) Request a signature when using Priority Mail Express
It may be optional through the post office, but your insurance policy could still require it.
Compare USPS with other options
Try JM Shipping Solution™ to select shipping options that fit your needs and budget while taking advantage of exclusive discounts, insurance options for your packages, and much more!
*This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for accuracy.