Online Postage vs. Traditional Postage Meters
Posted by business on October 16, 2012 in Business Technology [ 0 Comments ]
Computers have the ability to take over the functions of just about every office machine, from the typewriter to the fax machine to the phones. They can also be used to print postage. If your business sends out a lot of mail, you may wonder which is better: printing online postage or using a traditional postage meter. The answer depends on several factors. Here are the facts you need about online postage and postage meters in order to make the most informed decision for your business.
Online Postage Advantages
Online postage software — like that offered by Stamps.com — allows you to import your PC’s address books and print out addressed, stamped envelopes in one step. In some cases, online postage can reduce costs over use of postage machines, and it allows you to customize envelopes in ways that are not possible with traditional postage machines.
But users have to learn how to use the software and you have to be sure your printing hardware is capable of printing the postage insignia properly. The addressing capability is considered a big advantage by some users of online postage. Additionally, it takes less time to set up an account with an online postage provider than it does to rent a postage meter.
Online Postage Disadvantages
However, there are some drawbacks to online postage vs. postage machines. While start-up costs are lower than they are with traditional postage machines, these costs may be subsidized by providers in order to entice you into trying the service, possibly giving you an inaccurate idea of what your long-term costs will be.
In addition to your computer, internet connection, and printer, you will need a postal scale to use online postage. Also, the fact that mail is stamped and addressed at the same time can be a disadvantage. This is done to ensure that each piece of mail has the correct postage, but many businesses already pre-address their mail. A workaround may involve printing both postage and address on stickers and then only using the postage sticker, which can be a time waster if you send a lot of pre-addressed mail.
Postage Meters: Advantages
Postage meters generally cost more to use than online postage, but they have a long history of rock-solid reliability. Furthermore, using a postage meter doesn’t require much in the way of training because it’s a very simple process. Postage machines are fast, and they don’t require you to have a computer or a connection to the internet. High numbers of small businesses still primarily send individual letters or invoices in preprinted envelopes, and in these cases, postage machines are much faster than using online postage.
Postage Meters: Disadvantages
The main disadvantage with postage meters is the cost. Start-up costs and monthly fees are typically higher than the fees for online postage, and you still have to have a scale for weighing the mail. You pay for the postage itself on top of these costs. When postage rates increase, you will have to pay a fee to have your postage machine recalibrated.
Evaluating Your Business’s Postage Needs
If you do a lot of mailing of pre-addressed envelopes on a daily basis, then a traditional postage meter may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you have a setup where it’s beneficial to be able to address and stamp mail all at the same time, online postage may be the better choice.
What About Stamps?
The humble postage stamp definitely still has a place in today’s businesses. They’re simple and cheap, and there are no startup or monthly fees in addition to the cost of the postage. The other cost associated with stamps is the time it takes to affix the postage to the mail. If some of your letters are too heavy for a single first class stamp to be sufficient, you will have to either calculate and affix the extra postage or slap on another stamp to cover the costs.
Finally, someone will have to go to the Post Office to get more stamps when they run out. But if your business only has a minimal amount of outgoing mail, good old stamps may still be your overall best solution for postage.
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