In-Depth Cost Analysis: Stamps.com vs. Post Meters vs. Post Office
What is Stamps.com?
Stamps.com is a licensed vendor, approved by the United States Postal Service, to sell postage. Once you or your company purchase the software and install it on your computer, you will be able to print and affix postage to your packages and have them ready for pickup from your postal carrier. There is a monthly fee for the service in addition to the cost of postage itself. Stamps.com routinely offers discounts to its members allowing them to save money each month.
Some features of Stamps.com
- Works with Quickbooks to help you record your postal expenses
- New customers may enroll in a free 4-week trial to test the service and save up to $100 with coupons and free supplies
- Allows you to create custom stamps featuring your company's logo
- Free shipping on initial software and free postage scale
- Import your address book directly from your PC (no re-entry required)
- Free technical support
Stamps.com vs. Postal Meters
Postal meters were a handy business tool in the pre-Internet world. It allowed businesses to weigh their own packages, calculate the postage and prepare them for pick up or drop off at their nearest USPS branch. The companies that lease these machines generally offer long-term contracts that many customers feel have hidden costs (reset and maintenance fees, ink refills, etc.). Stamps.com offers the same valued service without the additional machinery, long-term contracts or high fees.
Pros & Cons of using Stamps.com vs. Post Meters
- 24 hour access, 7 days a week.
- Save time and gas money traveling to and from the Post Office
- No standing in line at the PO, especially during peak service times
- Buy stamps instantly and print postage labels directly on envelopes
- Save immediately by taking advantage of the $45 off coupon.
- Your computer and printer is all you need to get up and running
- Ending the service will end access to your mail records
- User errors on mailing labels can be frustrating
- Software does not currently support the Mac platform (but Mac users can download postage on-line through their browsers)
- Costs of additional mailing labels can seem pricey
Cost Break Down
If you lease a post meter, you might pay up to $50 per month in a flat rental fee. Factor in the higher costs of ink to print postage on the meter as opposed to your inkjet or laser printer, plus the cost of a scale, minus the 10% insurance discount you won't get from them (but which is offered by Stamps.com) and you're looking at a savings of up to 80% over the meter.
Unless you have an eBay store or send a lot of mail--that is over the weight of a normal letter--Stamps.com will probably not have any benefits over the USPS except for convenience.
Small companies have the most to gain by using a service like Stamps.com for their postage needs. When you factor in the monthly cost of leasing a post meter for about $50 per month and add to that the cost of resetting the meter, possible maintenance charges and the higher price of ink, you're looking at almost $100 more per month in charges.
Large businesses can certainly function without the use of a service like Stamps.com, especially if they qualify for bulk postage discounts. If your business sends bulk advertising materials, then printing postage on each piece of mail would be very labor intensive and not very cost effective.
Stamps.com vs. the U.S. Postal Service
The advantages of printing postage from your home or office with Stamps.com, as opposed to traveling to the post office, should be pretty obvious. There's the time you'll spend getting to the Post Office and back (plus the gas money you'll burn if you drive there) and the time you'll spend standing in line for service (double during the holidays). Plus the USPS does not offer the same money saving offers and discounts.
Pros & Cons of Stamps.com vs. U.S. Postal Service
- No waiting in line, especially during peak service times
- Free scale and valuable coupons when you register
- You can also use the USPS's Click-N-Ship feature through Stamps.com
- Missing out on the opportunity to converse with your fellow customers while standing in line at the Post Office--not really a con though, is it?
Creating an Account is Simple
- Sign up and pay on-line.
- Have a live online chat with a customer service rep if you have any questions.
- Easy to download software ready to install
- Get your discounts and coupons right away and use them to save money
Companies no longer operate on the 9-5 business model, so you shouldn't be limited to using a service like the USPS or a traditional post meter leasing company that operates with limited hours. For convenience over the USPS and a financial advantage over postal meters, Stamps.com is the best money and time saving alternative.