Postal Service

Among the most sophisticated and advanced web sites online today are the different postal service web sites. Most frequently accessed are the United States Postal Service and UPS.

Postal Service: Usps

The USPS’s online home is usps.gov or usps.com. This is one of the most robust web sites on the Internet, providing ways to electronically transact any business you might otherwise have gone to the post office to do.

Commonly, I use the site to find a zip code with an address; you can also use it to locate post offices, calculate postage, or find special forms used by the USPS. For $1, you can change your address online and skip the hassle of filling out a form and mailing it in; and it’s much faster. For mail or packages with tracking, you can track and confirm delivery online yourself, without calling anyone, or request that tracking and confirmation news be delivered to you via email.

In addition, you can buy stamps and other USPS products, have packages picked up at your office, and purchase PO boxes, all online.

Postal Service: Ups

UPS’s web site, at UPS.com, while not as easy to use as the USPS web site, has its own sets of nifty tools. You can set up a shipment online, pay for it, print out labels, have it picked up, and follow it with tracking and confirmation all from one place. There’s a good time/cost calculator available to you as well, so that you can determine cost and time prior to purchasing anything. Comparison shopping is a good idea; UPS and the USPS commonly have very different price scales, and you might be surprised at what’s cheaper to ship via the USPS as opposed to UPS.

A business can open a UPS account online and ask for labels to be delivered to their office. In addition, UPS offers a business solutions site where they will tell you, depending on your business needs, what sorts of services they can offer to you.

Postal Service Web Site: Fedex

Federal Express (at FedEx.com) also offers shipping and tracking options online, but again it is not as user friendly as either the USPS or UPS. They do, however, offer a pack and ship option unique to them — if you ship from a Kinko’s/FedEx location, they can pack your item for you prior to shipping in packing material they supply and then ship it for you from the store. (this is not an online option, alas)

Postal Service Web Site: Dhl

A relative newcomer to the national and international postal service scene, DHL has a website (DHL-USA.com) almost as easy to use as UPS. They offer the same physical shipping tools: tracking, pickup, rates calculators, free supplies, and billing options. However, their website also offers an eCourier service: a way to send your most secure documents via 128-bit encryption email, with verified eSignatures, to a recipient almost instantly. Watch for this to become a much more common tool in the future.