USPS Announces New Shipping Products, Prices for 2011

The U.S. Postal Service announced price increases and new products for its shipping services next year, effective Jan. 2.

The overall price increase for all USPS shipping services products is 3.6%. Priority Mail prices will increase 3.5%, and there will be new prices for Express Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service.

A complete listing of 2011 prices is available online at: link. The new prices and product innovations are pending Postal Regulatory Commission review.

Logistics expert Gerard Hempstead, president of Hempstead Consulting, views the rate increase as “very modest” compared to FedEx and UPS. “But you have to understand that the USPS is more expensive than the other two already, and the other two give discounts off their tariff,” he says. This makes it difficult for the USPS to compete even with negotiated service agreements (NSAs).

The Postal Service also announced several new products for flat parcels for 2011. Priority Mail now includes a legal-size Flat Rate Envelope (measuring 15″ x 9-1/2″) and a padded Flat Rate Envelope (12-1/2″ x 9-1/2″).

All six types of Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes, which include the Gift Card Flat Rate Envelope, Window Flat Rate Envelope, and Small Flat Rate Envelope, will be priced the same as the regular Priority Mail Envelope (12-1/2″ x 9-1/2″) at $4.95.
A new Express Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope (measuring 15” x 9-1/2″) will make its debut and is priced the same as the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope at $18.30

What’s more, the Postal Service’s popular “hold for pickup” service option, currently available only for Express Mail, will be extended to Priority Mail and first-class mail commercial parcels in 2011.

With the hold-for-pickup service, which is available at no extra charge for customers using shipping labels from Click-N-Ship or other USPS-approved vendor, the packages is shipped directly to a post office, instead of being left at a recipient’s address. The parcel is then held at the post office until the recipient picks it up at his or her convenience.

Critical Mail is another new product offering for USPS’s Commercial Plus customers. The service provides fast, consistent time-in-transit service for sensitive documents such as event tickets, identification cards and high-value direct mail.

A category of Priority Mail with first-class mail service standards, Critical Mail provides customers with tracking and free delivery confirmation. Additional services such as insurance and signature confirmation are also available. Critical Mail requires using USPS-supplied envelopes at a mailing cost of $3.50 for letters and $4.25 for larger, flat-size pieces.

Hempstead commends the USPS on the new products and services because they show that the agency is trying to capitalize on its strengths. For instance, he notes, “the USPS has more hold-for-pickup locations than FedEx and UPS combined.”