A number of our customers use First Class mail solely for the timing benefits. First Class will reliably deliver within about 3 days of the drop date, where Standard Mail will take 3 to 6 or more. The reasons they care vary. In one example, they bring in extra staff to man the phones on the dates they expect the mail to start arriving in homes. This is fine for letter size mail under an ounce. Once you get outside that, the postage goes up a great deal.

What we do in these cases is switch to Standard Mail with drop shipping. The Standard Mail rates are lower, and by dropping the mail closer to its destination, we’re able to overcome the timing issues.

First, your piece has to qualify for Standard Mail. This means you can’t have any personal information inside, such as account balances. You also won’t get returns or forwarding services with Standard Mail without incurring additional charges.

Second, to gain a benefit, you must have a need for First Class style timing, and a piece that weighs more than one ounce. Alternately, a First Class flat or parcel would also gain by using this technique. If you’re not particularly interested in the timing benefits, you can just change to Standard Mail and realize a large savings anyway. By the use of pre-canceled stamps and other techniques, you can avoid the perception issues some associate with Standard Mail.

Once you’re past these hurdles, here’s how it works. We sort the mailing list for Standard Mail and identify geographic regions with large concentrations of mail. this can be an individual post office (DDU), a 3-digit zip Sectional Center Facility (SCF), or a regional Bulk Mail Center (BMC). Those destinations are then separated and forwarded to the appropriate center by truck or other carrier, or by Priority Mail sacks. This eliminates a lot of the sorting and travel time that would be incurred inside the USPS transportation system, and shortens the delivery window. The difference between the First Class and Standard Mail rates, plus discounts received by dropping into these centers results in charges that are about the same as the one ounce First Class rate. For a 2 or 3 ounce piece, this can be a substantial savings.

To illustrate the savings, one example customer had the habit of sending advertising letters in #10 envelopes weighing less than a pound by First Class. At current rates, their average postage per piece was 35 cents. When they shifted to a 6×9 envelope, with additional material weighing 2.5 ounces, the First Class rate would have been 60 cents! Their base postage for a Standard Mail letter weighing 3.3 ounces or less was 24 cents. This plus the shipping and processing charges, less the DBMC, DSCF and DDU discounts came to an average cost of 37 cents, a savings of 23 cents off the First Class rate. In all, they saved $6,325 off the postage they would have paid if they continued using First Class. Delivery times were equivalent and predictable as well.

2 Responses to “Using Standard Mail and Drop Shipping to Replace First Class”


May 30th, 2008 - 6:20 pm

If I’m sending a personalized letter do I have to use first class?


May 30th, 2008 - 8:05 pm

You can have the person’s name and other generic information in a Standard Mail letter.

Sensitive financial information is the standard example of what MUST go First Class. You can’t tell them an account balance, that their bill is late, or even due, etc.

Other information not specifically named, but which might be questioned, would be health related items, facts about minor children and so forth.

Basically, if you wouldn’t want a stranger to know about it, it should go First Class, otherwise Standard Mail would be fine.

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