How to Use a Postage Meter
Shipping is one of the biggest expenses for any business that provides customers with a physical product. Stamps must be purchased, trips to a shipping provider must be made and shipping materials must be obtained. Fortunately, using a postage meter can minimize some of these expenses. A postage meter allows you to print precise shipping labels right from home. Postage meters are offered by several companies and typically interact with an online interface. This interface allows you to both track and manage your shipping expenses.
Benefits of a Postage Meter
Postage meters are designed primarily to save business owners time and money. Below are several benefits of using a postage meter:
- Save Money on Shipping – Instead of purchasing stamps and postage in set amounts, you can use your meter to print a label that costs a precise amount. For example, if you have a package that costs $2.53 to ship, but only have stamps in $.50 increments, you will waste $.47. While this may seem like a small amount of money, it can add up quickly if this action is repeated several times a day. A postage meter will print out a label for exactly $2.53 – no waste!
- No, or Fewer, Trips to the Post Office – Every time you have to visit the post office, you are taking time away from operating your business. With a postage meter, you will have to visit the post office much less as you will not need to buy stamps. You may also be able to schedule a pick-up with your shipping provider and completely avoid the post office.
- Track Your Expenses – Most postage meters work with an online interface. Depending on your brand, it may include the ability to track your usage over time. This means that you’ll be able to see exactly when, and on what, you spend your shipping budget.
- Adds a Custom Touch – While not available on all postage meters, some will allow you to customize your shipping labels. You can add your logo or a custom message to the postage label. This promotes your business and also presents a professional image.
- Stealth Mode – Sometimes there will be a difference between what you charge for shipping and the actual shipping cost. If customers see that you “overcharged” them for shipping, it can turn into a customer service issue. Many postage meters will allow you to hide the cost of postage to avoid any potential issues.
How to Use It
The exact usage procedures will vary depending on the company that created your postage meter. However, below is generic information that will apply to most postage meters:
- Installation – This is specific to your brand of postage meter. Typically, a scale and printer will both be connected to your computer. The scale is used to measure the weight of various parcels, while the printer is used to create the shipping labels. Not every postage meter will require a scale, as some will simply allow you to enter the weight manually.
- Letters – Letters typically have the same postage amount. If you are familiar with the postage rate, you can simply enter this amount in the online interface. Some printers will print labels that will use adhesive to stick to the envelope – others will print directly on the envelope. If you have large letters, use the scale to ensure that they receive the correct amount of postage.
- Parcels and Packages – Simply place the parcel on the connected scale. The machine will weigh your parcel and automatically print a label for the exact amount of postage required. If your system does not use a scale, you will be able to directly enter the shipping amount.
A Postage Meter is Essential
Any small business that seeks to streamline its shipping process requires a postage meter. Consistently running to the post office will expend an unnecessary amount of time and money. While postage meters cost money, they are worth the initial investment. You will receive a lower price on postage and will streamline your shipping process. This enables you to handle a higher volume of business and spend your time expanding core operations.
About the Author: Trevor Crusher is a contributing writer and small business owner. His small business specializes in rare model kits, i.e. those of antique model airplanes. He uses postage meters frequently to ship them.