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What is Parcel Select
02-02-2013, 04:57 PM
Post: #1
What is Parcel Select
Many people are confused about the new USPS shipping regulations that went into effect in January 2013. This section is for discussing the many different options for outgoing shipping and the services that supply them.

Let's start with Parcel Select...

is it Parcel Post with a new name?

Not quite, but there are some similarities.

Both Parcel Post (now called Standard Post) and Parcel Select are ground shipping options. They are somewhat economical (although the difference in price between Priority Mail and Parcel services has narrowed over recent years and Priority Mail is sometimes even cheaper) and they are required for certain shipments, such as flammable items.

Why do flammable items have to go by ground? The rationale is probably that burning up the back of a truck on the side of a highway is better than blowing up a plane. USPS has a list of items that must be shipped by ground.

So, get used to calling Parcel Post Standard Post and here's some info on the difference between Standard Post and Parcel Select...

Standard Post is ground shipment for oversized packages up to 70 pounds. Delivery is usually between 2 to 8 days, but a package going from Southern California to New York in winter could take longer. Standard Post can save postage on packages over 10 pounds. Under 10 pounds, be sure to research other options. Delivery confirmation is included.

At the present time, you have to purchase Standard Post at a USPS counter.

Parcel Select is ground shipment for oversized packages up to a combined length/girth of 130". Shipping time is the same as Standard Post and Delivery Confirmation is included. It's slightly less expensive than Standard Post and is only available through online purchase. Delivery confirmation is included. Parcel Select was introduced a couple of years ago as a bulk shipping option for businesses. Recently, online stamp resellers like stamps.com, have been purchasing it in bulk from USPS and reselling it to their members.

So while USPS treats the two services quite differently, for online businesses, who can buy the reseller Parcel Select labels one-at-a-time, the biggest difference between Standard Post and Parcel Select is that one is purchased at the counter and the other is purchased online.

It was rumored that Parcel Select would only be available to businesses as a bulk option, but online stamp services like stamps.com apparently enable small businesses (and individuals?) to purchase labels for individual packages.

It seems strange that USPS would create two entirely different shipping systems for what is essentially the same service, when the only significant difference is that one is purchased at the counter and the other is purchased online but USPS originally perceived Parcel Select as being specifically a bulk service for businesses.

Since resellers have (so far) been permitted to buy and resell parcel select in single quantities, it makes you wonder if the extra USPS bureaucracy involved in treating them as separate services will cost more in the long run than if they had simply kept it as Parcel Post.

The distinction is still important, however. If USPS decision-makers decide they don't want individuals to buy the Parcel Select labels as is possible now, they can issue a mandate for resellers to stop selling them. There are no indications that this will happen, it's just something to keep in the back of your mind if you invest heavily in Parcel Select logistics.
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