This is going to sound like an exaggeration, but stamps.com saved my business.
If you are a small business owner that ships physical products you most likely know that shipping international can be a huge hassle. It seems like the postage rates are ALWAYS changing (sometimes depending on your teller). Worse than that, in the past few years the USPS has started typing all of the custom's form information into the computer while you stand there. I used to dread going to the post office. Depending on the teller I got, I could be there for over AN HOUR. ONE HOUR. Standing at the counter, waiting while the friendly but slow-typing teller entered all the information for every package.
I hated wasting that time and knew it was going to be impossible once Ellerie was born.
If you collect payment and ship through PayPal you have probably noticed that you CAN ship international PRIORITY through the PayPal system. This is good - but VERY expensive. International shipping is a lot of money to begin with, but priority international rates are crazy high. So for me, that was not an option.
I was considering closing shop to international orders (which would have been a huge bummer) but then, Tiffany, a blog friend of mine who runs a fun handmade shop, emailed to tell me about stamps.com. She explained how easy the system made first class international shipping and I was intrigued enough to sign up for a trial account that day. About a week later I received a "welcome package" in the mail from stamps.com (with some free labels and information about the service).
Shortly after I sent a package first-class international FROM MY HOUSE and it arrived safely.
AND THEN I NEVER LOOKED BACK. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, TIFFANY.
I still use PayPal for the majority of my domestic shipping because it's it works and the shipping costs are deducted right from my PayPal account.
But I use stamps.com for all my international mailing. (please note : I am on a Mac and so I have to use the online system. I am pretty sure if you are on a PC, you can download an actual program from stamps.com that makes importing addresses even easier.) I enter the addresses, package size, weight and customs information. Then I print a label on regular printer paper, fold it in half and stick it into an envelope called a PS Form 2976-E. I order these clear envelopes in quantities of 50 from the USPS - they are free and are shipped free.
I stick that envelope on my package and my mailman picks it up at my doorstep. FIRST CLASS INTERNATIONAL PACKAGES. Out the door, easy as one, two (there isn't even a three because it's so simple). Aside, from the ease, I love that my shipping records are saved so if and when I get emails from international folks about their packages I can check the system and see when their label was created and if I have any information about it to pass on. (While the USPS does not offer international tracking, I can see "package left LA sort facility on XX" which is usually very helpful.)
Because shipping rates seem to always be changing, I use stamps.com to "test" items and determine my postage fees. I weigh and measure my packages before a new MAKE29 edition goes live and then see how much it will cost to send to various countries. I am now able to offer more accurate shipping fees because I know in advance exactly what I will be paying.
Something else to keep in mind is that stamps.com has more shipping options than PayPal. The biggest one is "regional rate" priority boxes that allow me to send something priority to Sacramento for less money than it costs to mail the same thing to Massachusetts. It doesn't come into play very often with the type of product I sell, but when it does, I appreciate it.
What I didn't know before I started doing my shipping online (both through PayPal in 2012 and stamps.com in 2013), is that mailing the same item at home from your computer is CHEAPER than mailing through the post office. It's adequate postage. It includes tracking so you have a digital record and your (domestic) customer gets email confirmation PLUS it's cheaper. Making the switch has saved my business thousands of dollars and saved me hundreds of hours. (Again, I am not exaggerating.)
Stamps.com costs $15.99 a month in addition to the money you spend on postage. I have had to call their customer service hotline twice - once because my payment wasn't going through and another time because I had a question about package type. Both times my concern was addressed quickly and professionally and both times I was THRILLED that I was able to speak on the phone with a real live person (rare these days).
If you have an online shop and are dreading the post office visits, I really hope this helps!
This post is NOT sponsored by stamps.com but links throughout are affiliate because I have used this service for nine months and have had a great experience.