Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Turn to Internet Retailers for Holiday Shopping

Retail sales figures may be down this year for many retailers. We are told customers are buying less. But, there is one strong trend that we are seeing that is very positive. There are definitely more buyers purchasing on the web this year!

How can that be when overall retail sales are down? We are seeing a 2-5% increase in unique people tracking packages daily as compared to last year’s volumes. This means that even though volumes shipped are down as a whole, more people are turning to the web for their holiday shopping than ever before. We feel this is a very strong indicator for the future of the Internet retailer.

We also continue to receive reports from some of our clients that they not only have more customers buying this year, they also report increased sales. In fact, clients who used our CPS flat rate calculator to employ our flat rate and free shipping strategies were among the majority of those reporting increased sales. We find this very positive, too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Consider Flat Rate Shipping

As stated in a recent article at, the U.S. Postal Service web site is still having problems with its web shipping tools. This release also states malfunctioning USPS web tools failed to report the USPS price causing more expensive rates of other carriers to be displayed for those that rate shop on their sites. This caused a measurable increase in shopping cart abandonment. This is yet another example why flat rate or even free shipping is better than trying to use real time rating at the time of order processing. Not to mention the fact that these shipping methods can even help you close more sales and increase the amount purchased!

Now that we are getting to the end of the holiday shipping season, we are getting reports from several retailers that have used our suggestions on how they handled shipping this year at their web sites. Those businesses that decided to try flat rate or free shipping had very positive things to say. They are using the techniques outlined in our free whitepaper found at The same retailers that have had good results are telling us that even though they see the negative effects of the economy on how much people are spending, they are also seeing more customers buying on-line! Just think how these businesses would have done in a more positive year…

Monday, December 15, 2008

Important Holiday Dates for Shippers

As we end up 2008 and begin 2009 there are some important dates that all shippers should be aware of. The following are the last days domestic holiday packages can be shipped for on time Christmas deliveries with USPS:

December 16, 2008 Parcel Post
December 20, 2008 First-Class Mail/Priority Mail
December 23, 2008 Express Mail

USPS International delivery schedule can be found at the link below:

UPS and FedEx pickup and delivery information can be found at the links below:

In addition to holiday delivery schedules there some other dates that are rapidly coming up. In January many carrier rates and services will be changing. The following are the dates these changes take place.


January 5, 2009 Rates, Fuel Surcharges and Services change. For more on these changes visit:


January 5, 2009 Rates, Fuel Surcharges and Services change. For more on these changes visit:


January 18, 2009 Rates and Services change. For more on these changes visit:

All Harvey Software CPS shippers will receive the rates and service changes by download and will automatically reflect the new carrier changes.

Make sure to mark calendars with all these very important dates!

We here at Harvey Software all wish everyone a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Profits for Companies that Ship in December

Would you like to save over 10% on your air shipping and almost 1½% on you ground shipping? It doesn't look like there has been much notice about this yet, but on December 1st, the fuel surcharge for the two largest package carriers will drop significantly for both ground and air service. If any of your shipping can wait until that December 1st pickup date, you will be charged a lower shipping rate due to the lower fuel surcharge. So, if you absolutely, positively have to ship a package before Thanksgiving, then it's got to go. But if you can wait for that Monday pickup, the savings are significant. This could mean the difference between a good and great holiday sales profit!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Looking at International Packages Damaged in Customs

Recently we had a shipper neatly roll up and send photographs from the US to Canada using a large Mail Tube. When the photographs arrived at their destination it was discovered that the tube had been opened and the photographs had been folded into thirds and placed back in the tube. Naturally this destroyed the photographs. With some investigation we discovered that the tube had been opened in Customs and that was where the pictures had been folded and placed back in the tube. But that was not the end of the problems for the shipper and recipient.

Unfortunately the recipient did not save the tube. When they made the claim for the damaged contents, they were unable to collect for damages in Canada. This left the shipper to deal with our carrier of choice, and they eventually received an amount that covered only some of their costs.

Hearing all this made us think, “Is there a difference between shipping internationally with all the different carriers when it comes to dealing with customs damages?” The following is what one of the commercial carriers told us during our investigation:

“Any Customs officer can open any package they choose regardless if it is an export or import. The only exceptions are diplomatic bags/pouches. The difference between shipping with us is the fact that one of our employees opens the package and reseals it, where with other carriers, the Customs officers works alone. In the case of our package, should the contents be damaged by a Customs officer, our employee will notate it and the customer (be that consignee or shipper) will have recourse with the government to file a claim.”

The good news is we were also told by this carrier that this does not happen very often. At least for them, in all cases where it did happen they noted that the Customs officer included a claim procedure inside the package. (Something our shipper in the above example did not have happen.) The alternate carrier did say that the Customs officers generally are very respectful of the contents and do take care not to damage goods.

After our investigation we have found that there is a difference. We must package our international shipments so they can be easily inspected by Customs regardless of carrier. We must be aware that there is a difference in how your products could be handled and you should check with your carrier representative to know for sure. We have been told by several industry people that the inspection rate is about 6 percent for Canadian shipments although the government has mandated 10 percent. More on this subject can be found at the links below or at your carrier’s web site:

United States Customs:
Canada Border Services Agency:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We Always Use the Post Office...It Costs Less…Or Does It?

We hear this phrase almost daily any more. And yes, many times this is a true statement, but our CPS customers are finding out that this is a very bad assumption. In fact, using only one carrier to ship your products can result in much higher costs than you could ever realize even if you are shipping only a few packages per week!

A good example of this is when one of our employees recently decided to ship a large flat box that weighed 4 pounds. Like many of our customers, he first checked the rates for shipping it using USPS Parcel Post because he incorrectly assumed that they were the cheapest. He found that the cost was $63.23 because of the package dimensions and it would be delivered in 2-9 days. This seemed very high since the shipping cost was nearly as much as the value of the product. He then decided to let CPS shop for the best price and service. To his surprise he discovered that by using standard UPS Ground rates the same package would be delivered in 1-5 days and would only cost $12.81. This is a cost savings of $50.42 for a single package!

So you say, I will look at each thing I ship and determine the best way. After that I will always use the best way I discovered when I ship that item. This is another false sense of security concept. With things like fuel surcharges and prices changing constantly the results of this decision can be costly, too. This points to the fact that automated systems for doing pricing on a box by box basis optimizes savings and is your only real choice to keep from over-paying in today’s fluctuating economy.

If you want to minimize your shipping costs and maximize your profits on every box you ship, you need to have access to multiple carriers and shop between them for each and every parcel. This is especially true when you receive carrier discounts because this, too, can have varying results depending on many factors. The savings you will receive by employing the right tools will easily pay many times over for any solutions needed to get this done in an automated fashion.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Carrier Fuel Surcharge Opportunity for the Holidays

With all the negative economic issues affecting retail buyers today, many companies are questioning how holiday sales will be this year. We feel that despite an overall retail sales decrease, Internet sales will be higher for 2008. We also feel that these sales will be spread over many more retailers than in years past. For many it could be tough. Many retailers who did not sell on the Internet in past years are now turning to Internet retailing as a way to increase overall retail sales. Many of these are huge, well funded companies. The reason for all of the interest is mainly due to energy costs. Experts feel that more buyers will be shopping from their PCs rather than driving to stores in 2008. With many more established Internet retailers creating a much more competitive market this holiday season, everyone will need to be more innovative to survive.

Keeping this in mind, we have noticed in the last week that the major carriers have announced a decrease of their current fuel surcharges, starting October 6, 2008. This decrease in cost could be an opportunity for you to increase your company's sales right now. With the uncertainty in the energy market, it's possible these prices may not be around very long. To see examples of the decreases, you can visit the UPS and FedEx Fuel Surcharges links on this Blog page.

Now you ask, "How can I benefit from this carrier fuel surcharge decrease?" That is easy. You need to focus on offering deals to your visitors to purchase heavily from your web site during the month of October.

Offering a lower flat-rate (or even free) shipping for volume purchases is a great special to take advantage of this opportunity. If you are a CPS user, now is the time to use your Flat Rate Report to help you determine the right strategy for flat rate or free shipping. We feel this is a good time to get a jump on the holiday market before the fuel surcharges increase again. Let's face it - the odds are in favor of them going up again. And if that's wrong, you still got a jump on 2008 holiday sales.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New International Shipping Document Requirements Mandatory for October 1, 2008

Back in June, we wrote about an upcoming change effective July 2, 2008, that the Census Bureau would require mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or AESDirect. This is for all shipments where a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is required. Beginning October 1, 2008, the "adjustment period" is over and there are fines and potentially prison time if these filings are not filed accurately and on time. The fines and prison time are significant - up to $10,000 and 5 years per shipment.

Some history-

The changes are in the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) that affect the Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) (now known as Electronic Export Information - EEI) procedures. The new Regulations became effective July 2, 2008. By October 1, 2008, if EEI is required for a U.S. export, the EEI must be electronically filed to the Automated Export System (AES) by the U.S. Principal Party in Interest (USPPI) (normally this is the exporter) or their designated agent.

There are more rules about when EEI is required than can be covered well here. UPS, FedEx and the USPS want different information about EEI, some of the exemption numbers have changed, and there are many other requirements. Be sure to contact your carrier(s) so they can advise you about how to comply with this new requirement. The USPPI can file for themselves directly with AESDirect. You may also find that the carriers offer other filing method options.

You will find additional information about this at the U.S. Census Bureau web site.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Handling Carrier Strikes and Other Service Disruptions

Recently, the 12,000 member Teamsters Local 705 in metro Chicago authorized a strike against one of the major carriers. Although an agreement was reached just hours before deliveries stopped, it reminded me that there is another important aspect of a multiple carrier shipping system - carrier choice. Sure, carrier choice in your shipping system gives you the best price for each package and more negotiating power with the carriers at contract time. But "best pricing" is in second place compared to making sure your packages get shipped.

Labor problems are not the only reason a carrier may stop picking up your packages. What about weather like hurricanes and winter storms? If a carrier stops picking up your packages, whatever the reason, you need to do something immediately. If packages aren't flowing out, then money is not flowing in. Even a one day interruption is disruptive, and you never know when it will be over until it's over (with apologies to Yogi!). If you miss just one shipping day, you could be facing expensive service upgrades when you ship the next day to you meet promised delivery times.

When an interruption becomes extended, history tells us other carriers may not even accept new customers to prevent overloading and poor service to their current customers. Even if you have selected a "primary" carrier, consider giving another carrier some packages each week so you have an alternate carrier available if the worst happens. As an example, with the CPS shipping software, you simply change the three carrier initials and you are immediately shipping with your alternate carrier, printing carrier accepted labels and sending them accurate data for billing and tracking.

Strikes, weather, etc. are "worst case" situations, and a shipping system with carrier choice can do more than just save money, it could save your business.

Friday, August 29, 2008

UPS® Has Issued a New Sustainability Report

One day after our Blog posting on “How You Can Save Oil”, UPS released its sixth annual Corporate Sustainability Report with progress reports on the company's economic, social and environmental performance. The report is posted at

Of special interest to those that are looking at their shipping impact on foreign oil use visit the Environmental Section (PDF).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

How You Ship Can Save Oil

I find it very interesting that T. Boone Pickens, an oil man, is promoting alternate energy sources. I am sure there is a hidden profit motive, like drilling for and selling natural gas, but I will have to admit that he makes some very valid points. The PickensPlan can be seen at his site located at Some of Mr. Pickens points include the fact that in 1970 we imported 24% of our oil, but today that figure is 70% and growing! He also points out that our use of oil amounts to $700 billion dollars leaving our country this year alone. That's four times the annual cost of the Iraq war. This is a huge loss of wealth and we contribute to this problem every time we ship something!

In making his argument for change, Mr. Pickens offers some interesting ideas that we think can even be applied to parcel shipping. As you promote your products and ship parcels every day, you can help by directing customers to make the right choice. For example, promoting ground shipping over air shipping decreases our use of foreign oil.

Choosing carriers and services within your chosen carrier’s portfolio of offerings can also make a difference in how much oil you use to ship your parcels. Many carriers have already started to make changes. For example UPS has announced the deployment of 167 compressed natural gas trucks which supports Mr. Pickens plan. And USPS is moving to E85, biofuels and fuel cell vehicles for their delivery vehicles, all of which decreases our dependence on foreign oil.

These are great beginnings but as a parcel shipper you need to fully think about and offer shipping methods that truly help us stop the drain on US wealth by the use of foreign oil, even when shipping domestically. Some solutions will help. Others solutions like E85 and biofuel have caused other issues that you need to take into consideration.

If you would like to learn more about this subject so you can do your part, I recommend you visit the sites below:





EPA SmartWay

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Reliable Shipping System Must Include a Good UPS

How can you give your shipping system an additional "edge" to be as reliable as possible? Use a battery backup (or UPS - uninterruptible power supply) so that temporary power interruptions do not affect your shipping.

Our CPS(TM) shipping software is very reliable (with great “Economic Stimulus" pricing through 8/29 - a shameless "plug") but a power problem in the middle of shipping a package can create problems, including an unnecessary system crash. A battery backup gives you time to shut down your computer properly. Better battery backups also provide line conditioning to correct line sags as well as reduce an over voltage on the line.

Ideally, using a good UPS with line conditioning abilities is the way to go. Use it when you need maximum reliability and up time for any computer, including servers, networking devices, and Internet modems and routers.

Choose a good UPS and protect the business's data and make sure that service to customers isn't interrupted. Brand names include MaxPower Corp., APC, Minuteman, Tripp Lite, Liebert, and Best Power.

The right UPS will take the panic out of a power interruption.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Are you selling nationally or locally? Are you sure? (Part 2)

Forecasts say that online sales will grow in 2008, even in the current economy. Are you going to get your share? Eliminating as much cart abandonment as possible will definitely help. As you plan for the season, your shipping system can give you the information you need to make your final price right for your customers. Make them click "Buy" instead of "Bye".

For the same order, do you charge different amounts for shipping depending on the package destination? That makes your price different according to where your customer lives. If you visit you local Sears store, they don’t ask for your ZIP code before you get the price. Yes, that's a little different situation, but no one likes to know they are paying more than someone else for the same item. That's a key factor that creates abandoned shopping carts.

It's clear that flat rate shipping, strategically mixed with "free" shipping offers, combats this problem. It has been found by a number of experts and Internet entrepreneurs that it is very important to display shipping charges before checking out to avoid shopping cart abandonment. Now, how to do this?

Of course, free shipping is very easy to calculate. Figuring out the right amount for flat-rate shipping is easy but takes a little more effort. The easiest way is to use your actual carrier rates in your shipping system, then use historical reporting directly from the shipping system. As an example, the CPS shipping software can use actual carrier rates, including contract specific rates that reflect the fuel surcharge. CPS provides a report (Click here to see a sample CPS Flat Rate Shipping Charge Report…) showing average shipping cost per package and average shipping cost per pound. These costs are also then split into next day, 2 day, 3 day, ground and international services. With just a few mouse clicks you can keep tabs on your shipping costs for any period of time by carrier and service to accurately manage your flat rate shipping offer.

Of course you can get these same numbers from the carrier bills, but its so much easier if you can just "Click" and see them. The example above is for CPS, but look for similar reporting in your shipping system. Monitor your costs at least monthly and make adjustments for changes in average charges. When using flat rate charges you can offer free shipping for special times of the year like holidays when competing for consumer dollars.

When you look at customer satisfaction and shopping cart abandonment issues, one might conclude that free shipping is the only way to go. This may not be the best approach for a couple of reasons, especially for the bottom line. Using flat rate shipping charges for low volume orders, then using free shipping to increase the order amount are effective ways to increase sales, decrease shopping cart abandonment and increase your return customer rate. When done properly, this leads to increased profits. In addition, if you offer only free shipping you have to build the shipping cost into the item cost. This means you have to change item costs on a regular basis to offset the shipping price increases brought about by fuel surcharges - inconvenient for you and confusing for your customers.

Use your shipping history reporting tool to monitor your average shipping costs and you can successfully use flat-rate or flat-rate and free shipping. Quick, easily available reporting from your shipping system lets you make sure you are making enough to break even for total shipping charges either way.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Are you selling nationally or locally? Are you sure? (Part 1)

Do you think you are selling nationally but most sales are local?

A recent caller from the New York City area suddenly realized this. He brought up his 50-60% cart abandonment rate. He also said he charges his exact shipping amount to his customers so he does not "screw" people (gotta love NYC!) by charging them more than the actual cost to ship the package.

I asked him if he wanted to sell his products in Florida. He said "Yes!" "California?" "Yes!" He knows his shipping costs are higher to ship to me in Florida vs. a customer in New York. The way he charges for shipping means that he charges more for his products to customers who are further away. So if I shop at his site, I will quickly realize this and recognize that it's cheaper for me to buy from a competitor of his in Florida. It dawned on him that, by doing this, he makes his products more expensive nationally than locally. That effectively limits his market and leads to abandoned carts. Now, who's getting screwed? He is, of course, and he doesn't like it.

"How do I get around this?" he asked. I suggested that he offer flat rate shipping for ground and air service to make his prices look competitive nationally. Then he should monitor his average charges on a weekly and monthly basis to determine if he needs to adjust his flat rate prices. Besides increasing his national sales since shipping costs will be the same for all, he also thought that it would be much easier to maintain shipping prices at his web site. Are you where he is?

Next time, part 2 - an easy way to discover the right "flat rate" price to charge for your shipping.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keeping Up with Carrier Fuel Surcharges

Have we found something to join death and taxes as a "sure thing" - the carriers' fuel surcharge increases? The surcharge amounts for August have been announced. They are over 10% for ground and almost 35% for air. And for some carriers these amounts are even greater. YIKES!!

I see fuel surcharges see-sawing up and down, not just as a way for carriers to take money from businesses, but more a way to let carriers be able to offer their services in trying economic times without having to change their rate tables constantly. Recently, the surcharges have gone up and up, but so have oil prices, in fact faster than any US or global company ever expected (except maybe the traders - that's another story). Eventually, I expect parcel carriers to include these operating costs directly in their standard rates with their annual price increase, lowering the fuel surcharges. Or even better, the fuel surcharges fall due to decreased oil costs or increased efficiencies in the carriers' delivery system. All businesses adjust pricing over the long haul in a free market system. As long as the economy changes, nearly all services will increase in price. Just a fact of life we all have to deal with. Now, how to best handle this?

Last time, I talked about "Using Your Shipping System to Get the Lowest Shipping Rates". Keeping your shipping system up to date with the fuel surcharge is absolutely necessary for you to have accurate rate comparisons among the carriers for your packages. Accurate "best rate" shipping (the more automatic the better!) is a primary line of defense against these increased shipping costs. I'm sure you agree that, today, you need every advantage you can get.

Larger shippers might consider using a fulfillment service. The more you can move in bulk that can be delivered from local centers, the more you can save. This can also be seen in services where carriers use USPS for final delivery or in consolidated clearance services for international shipments. In all of these cases the key is in what you have to ship and the best logistics channel to move your goods to market - all balanced against doing it for the least cost. All of these factors mean that the time has ended for freight charges to just be passed to the consumer without any concern about the effects.

Today, this must be done while fulfilling the end customer’s normally high expectations for time of delivery, condition of the end product at the time of delivery, but not losing the sale due to shipping costs and order abandonment.

It's a tall order, but there are professionals in shipping software and fulfillment centers to help.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Using Your Shipping System to Get the Lowest Shipping Rates

You've negotiated a great rate with your package carriers. You also want to use the USPS since they have new commercial rates and great rates for lighter packages shipped to residences. You know you have good rates, but what's the next step so you can use all of these carriers and make sure you pay the best price for every package you ship? There, as they say, is the rub.

It's easy in concept. For each package you ship, check each carrier's rate, and then choose the least expensive. The problem is making that work efficiently. Looking up rates in two or three different systems can add 5 minutes processing time to every package. Also, to shop for the best carrier and service in your order system, you need the exact shipping weight of the items in the order, including the packaging. In a number of order systems, this final shipping weight can be difficult to obtain.

There is one more wrinkle. If you use a carrier provided shipping system, it may only give published rates, not the rates you worked so hard to negotiate. This is when 3rd party shipping systems can really earn their keep. Here is how it works in our CPS™ shipping software.

With CPS, you can use your company's UPS and FedEx contract rates, plus CPS supports the new USPS commercial rates. This means you can quickly see at a glance, on just one screen, a rate comparison and select the best from just one list.

And there's more. CPS also lets you set up automatic rate comparison codes that we call RateBots™. For example, set up a RateBot to get the best price for ground delivery service, and then use that RateBot for your ground packages. CPS even optionally determines if the address is commercial and residential, so the entire "best rate" process is hands-off and automatic. You can set up as many RateBots as you need, such as one for ground service, another for best next day service, etc.

Look for these features like these in your shipping system and really start putting those competitive rate bids to work for you.

SmartWay Partner Networking Opportunity

For those interested in learning more about the SmartWay Partnership there will be a meeting in Toronto on September 30th through October 2nd. For details of this meeting click here…

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Saving Can Be as Simple as Becoming a SmartWay Transport Partnership Shipper

Want to know another great way to save money, help improve our environment and decrease our dependence on foreign oil? Consider committing to using SmartWay Transport Carriers and becoming a SmartWay Partnership Shipper. SmartWay Partners receive many great benefits for their efforts. They also quickly realize that going green can not only help our planet but it also goes straight to the bottom line with significant green savings. For more on becoming a partner click here...

You can also visit for the latest SmartWay news, events and e-updates.

WHOOPS! Latest Microsoft XP Security Update Stopped Our Internet Access

After applying the latest Windows XP updates from Tuesday, 7/8/08, we've had reports of problems with connecting to the Internet. In our offices we had to make firewall setting changes so that our Internet and email would work again. We use ZoneAlarm and had to change the Firewall setting for the Internet Zone Security from High to Medium to be able to communicate again with the outside world.

Of course, our shipping system could not be used until its Internet connection was restored. Not a good thing!

Watch out for this issue with your security software when you apply this month's Windows XP updates.

If you use ZoneAlarm and want to know more click here…

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reduce Shipping Costs with Free Shipping Boxes

Shipping cost is more than just how much the carrier charges to deliver a package. For example, let's look at the package itself.

If you use the carriers' air services, each carrier provides boxes and envelopes at no cost to you. Here are some examples.

The USPS has an Express Mail 12" x 15.5" x 2" box, the Tyvek envelope, the 6" x 25" tube mailer and the 6" x 38" tube mailer, all that you put postage on based on the weight. They also provide the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope and a Legal Size Flat rate envelope which each needs 1 postage amount regardless of what you have in the envelope. For every one of these, the packaging is free. You pay only the postage.

For their air delivery services, UPS and FedEx provide envelopes plus shipping boxes in 3 sizes. They are also free. It is important to note that dimensional weight rates apply, so use the box that just fits. How can dimensional weights affect your shipping costs? Even if what you send weighs less then a pound, if the box dimensions rate the package as 3 pounds, you pay the 3 pound rate as a mininum.

For USPS Priority Mail, there are a variety of envelopes and boxes. A number include flat rate shipping as an added benefit. One rule is the box needs to keep its original form, not packed until it's bulging. For instance, a Large Flat Rate Priority box needs $12.95 in postage. If 7 pounds of merchandise fits, you’ll save up to $6 dollars versus regular Priority mail rates. More information about USPS supplied packaging materials is at

Will these boxes be right for every package? Maybe not, but whenever you can use these boxes, it's money you keep. Between the actual cost of the box and using flat rate services, smart use of these may save you up to $20 dollars per package!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 4)

Next we will cover some of the commonly used forms for international shipping. The samples below are customs forms as printed by our CPS shipping software. These are typical but can vary slightly in appearance from application to application. They are according to the current, approved layouts, which is always subject to change. The data about the goods is included in some way on each form. The commercial invoice form is the same for all carriers. The different USPS forms are used according to the value of the goods as well as other criteria. The USPS 2976A form is a single page but the 2976 is six pages and even has its own required envelope, the 2976E.

As you see, there is a lot of data in the forms, and a mistake with any part can stop your packages cold at customs. The forms for UPS and FedEx are identical. Click on the links below to view the sample forms:

Did you know that you could need a license to export a pencil to Canada? No kidding! Need more information about export licensing and when it's needed?

You can learn more from the actual regulators. Where? For those who think that it can't be hot enough, in Orlando on August 5 & 6, the US Department of Commerce will present a seminar titled "Complying with U.S. Export Controls" which will cost $350. This seminar will cover the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), U.S. sanctions programs, and the Foreign Trade Statistics Regulations (FTSR). You'll learn to classify your commodities, services and technologies; understand whether a license is required; apply for a license; and you'll learn about the documentation that you will need to keep to prove your due diligence. Click here to register or see the attached document. You can also visit:

U.S. Trade Information Center (General export information)

U.S. Department of Commerce (for a Basic Guide to Exporting)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (For Food Products)!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?navid=

US Customs (More general information)

International Monetary Fund - SDRs per Currency unit and Currency units per SDR (Dollar conversion rates)

This is it for this series on international shipping. But that is not all. We will continue to publish more on related subjects over the up coming weeks, so subscribe to our feed now to receive this information automatically or visit us again soon.

Friday, June 27, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 3)

Now that you have all of the information I've talked about for international customs forms, what's next? Well, more information is needed, of course. It is the government, after all! To finish filling out the commercial invoice and certificate of origin forms, you will also need your federal tax id number (or social security number), the country of origin of the goods you are shipping and the terms of sale. For the USPS, you will need to decide how you want non-deliveries treated and which customs form is needed. Harvey Software’s CPS(TM) shipping software supports both the 2976 and 2976A forms for the USPS and the Commercial Invoice and Certificate of Origin for any CPS carrier.

The Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is another form that may need to be provided. "May need" because shipment value is part of its requirements. Starting July 2, 2008, the Census Bureau requires mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper's Export Declaration (SED) is required. For more information, visit this web site:

Next time, we'll start to bring this all together with some international form samples, so subscribe to our feed now to receive this information automatically or visit us again soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 2)

For your international packages, do you create customs forms through your shipping software or do you attach your own forms to the package? Customs forms have to meet certain specs and need to contain specific information. This information includes a description of the goods in the shipment, their value, its classification (a merchandise sale, gift, documents only, etc.), and accurate customs Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes so that your packages clear customs without delays.

Here is some information about Schedule B codes that comes from the US Census Bureau. You can get additional information about these codes at the US Census Bureau web site:

Millions of trade transactions occur each year. These transactions are classified under approximately 8,000 different products leaving the United States and every exported item is assigned a unique 10-digit identification code. For example, concentrated frozen apple juice is assigned a 10-digit identifier that is in a broader category that is assigned a 6-digit identifier for apple juice. The 6-digit identifier for apple juice is in another broader category assigned a 4-digit identifier for fruit juices, vegetable juices, etc. The 4-digit identifier is in another broader category assigned a 2-digit identifier for Preparations of Vegetables, Fruit, Nuts, etc.

What's the difference between the Schedule B codes (for exports) and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes (for imports)? All of the import and export codes used by the United States are based on the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS - The HTS assigns 6-digit codes for general categories. Countries which use the HTS are allowed to define commodities at a more detailed level than 6-digits, but all definitions must be within that 6-digit framework. The U.S. defines products using 10-digit HTS codes, like the example for concentrated frozen apple juice. Export codes (which the U.S. calls Schedule B) are administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. Import codes are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

The USPS uses forms called 2976 or 2976A to record and print this information. UPS and FedEx use a commercial invoice. Regardless of which form or carrier is used, your products must be properly documented or your package will sit at customs until clarification is provided.

We'll get into more about international customs forms in a subsequent post. There will be several more posts on international shipping to follow over the next few weeks. Subscribe to our feed to receive them automatically or visit us again next week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

International Shipping Tips for UPS, FedEx and USPS (Part 1)

When shipping internationally, there are 2 sets of information needed so your packages are delivered properly. One is for the carrier; the other is for customs.
Let's start with the most important items for the carriers. First, and it may sound obvious, but you need to know what the carrier calls the country you are shipping to. For example, let's use Ireland. If you are shipping via UPS, the country can be Republic of Ireland or just Ireland. For FedEx, you can only use Republic of Ireland. For USPS using Endicia, you can only use Ireland. Use the wrong one and you will not even get a shipping label. CPS has a pull-down country listing, but you still need to know which country listing your carrier needs.
Next is international paperwork. This includes Commercial Invoices, Certificates of Origin, USPS Customs Forms and SED filings. The carrier needs to know how the international paperwork is being handled or your package can be delayed clearing customs. Each customs form has a specific layout. Shipping software like our CPS can collect and print the needed forms in the right format.
Later on I'll include some more detailed information about some of the items in the customs forms, such as the Schedule B and Harmonized Tariff codes and other items.
International shipping is definitely not for the uninformed. There will be several more posts on this subject to follow over the next few weeks. Subscribe to our feed to receive them automatically or visit us again next week.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Important Notice for International Shippers...

Effective July 2, 2008, the Census Bureau is requiring mandatory filing of export information through the Automated Export System (AES) or through the AESDirect for all shipments where a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) is required. They are also providing the trade an additional 90 days to implement these new requirements. After the 90-day implementation period, which ends September 30, 2008, you must file your export information electronically through the AES or AESDirect. Non-compliance to these new rules can result in some serious fines.

Click here to learn more about the SED changes…

One has to wonder why it is so hard to export goods when there is such a large imbalance between our imports and exports!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Does Flat Rate or Free Shipping Increase Sales?

According to last month’s shipping poll, 92% of those that voted said yes. There have been several other studies (much larger and better done than ours) that also indicate that free or flat rate shipping closes more sales and decreases shopping cart abandonment. It is important, regardless of your shipping policy, to tell customers about your shipping terms before they get to the final screen of your shopping cart system. We feel having a surprise at the end of checkout is the biggest single reason people never hit the final submit order button. You should instead use your shipping terms to help sell your products from the beginning. If you would like to learn more about ways to deal with shipping costs visit and download the free whitepaper on “Mail Order and Internet Retailer's Guide to Handling Shipping Costs”. Those that have read this whitepaper and followed its advice tell us it has increased their sales and decrease shipping costs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Will US Internet Retailers and Manufacturing See Growth from High Oil Prices?

Sounds crazy but it is a possibility! Yesterday an interesting article was published at describing how globalization and outsourcing may be changing in the near future due to oil prices. (See Article.) One example given was how it costs $8,000 to move a 40 foot container from Shanghai to the east coast of North America at current fuel prices. This is a major increase from 2000 when the same container cost only $3,000. This could have a leveling affect on businesses causing them to have more things to be made and grown closer to the ultimate customer. This could also mean shortages this fall for those that are not planning now. Only time will tell, but it does once again show how fuel and shipping charges can have a definite affect on many aspects of all business.

Monday, June 2, 2008

US Postal Service Shipping and Tracking (Continued)

Just as a follow up to the post on Thursday, May 29th concerning USPS® shipping and tracking, the package got there on time and with good tracking visibility. (See above.) This is a major tracking visibility improvement for USPS.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

US Postal Service Shipping and Tracking

For my USPS® shipping and tracking, recently I've noticed that the Delivery Confirmation number now returns more information than in the past. Today when I used my free CPS™ Parcel Locator Gadget on my iGoogle™ home page to track my package mailed on Tuesday from FL to PA, I found some great new results. The USPS Track and Confirm page now shows it received the data about the package and also shows that the package was processed through its Tampa facility. This is a great improvement!

This all happened when I shipped my package using CPS and Endicia® Internet postage. Has anyone else noticed this (what appears to be) more detailed tracking information for USPS packages?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Shipping Notices Keep Customers Happy

Don't forget to show your customers you are giving them great service. One simple way is to send them an email to let them know their package is on the way. Today's best order systems may have this feature, the carrier shipping systems might be able to help, and high-quality third-party shipping systems have this as an optional or (better yet) a standard feature.

For example, Harvey Software’s CPS shipping software includes as standard the SHIP eLERT® that sends email shipping notices right out of CPS using your company's own email address. You don't need Outlook, Outlook Express, etc., for this. Since each SHIP eLERT comes from you instead of the carrier or another party, there is no doubt about who your customer is doing business with.

Great service keeps customers. Showing customers know how well you are serving them is a great way to encourage repeat business.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Some Money Saving Ideas to Reduce Shipping Expenses

CPS Shipping Sofware by Harvey Software, Inc.

With all the concern about current shipping rate increases, businesses should consider some other ways to save money. For example, beyond sending your packages using the best service at the best rate, it is also important to make sure the address is correct. This insures that you will not receive address correction charges that further increase shipping costs. Many shipping software packages like Harvey Software’s CPS will automatically do address correction for you.

Another great money saving idea is to use carrier provided envelopes and boxes. These not only save the cost of the container, but many times they qualify for reduced shipping fees as in the Flat Rate Priority Envelopes and Boxes. To learn more about carrier provided shipping envelope and boxes visit the links below:

For UPS® click here…

For US® Postal Service click here…

For FedEx® click here and log in the Ordering Supplies section…


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

USPS Manifest Users Can Get Commercial Rates - Here's How...

If you use a post office manifest, we have an update about the new commercial and retail USPS rates. Originally we were told that shippers who use a manifest could not take advantage of commercial rates. On Monday the post office told us that manifest users can use commercial rates under certain conditions: 1) delivery confirmation codes are printed on each shipping label and 2) the delivery confirmation data is electronically uploaded to the post office. So, if you manifest and meet these conditions, you get the new commercial rates. Our CPS program will be changed to allow this in CPS Setup in the next day or two. In the meantime, if you are using our manifest software and want to get started with these new rates now, call our support department and they can send you the files to get started immediately. So, if this is you, enjoy the savings!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Get the Best Shipping Rate with New Post Office Commercial and Retail Prices

Like they promised, the post office is changing their prices on schedule again. They decided to do changes in May, and this year's changes take effect on May 12th. The changes are a lot more than listed here, but it's easy to see them at

In the saving money department, new for this year are the lower prices for Priority Mail and Express Mail when you use online postage. You might read about new "retail" and "commercial" prices. You get commercial prices when you use online postage, and those prices are lower than retail. Retail prices are what you pay when you go to the counter at the post office.

To get the lower prices, you want to be sure your shipping system uses an online postage system. Harvey's CPS is one shipping system that does this. and others are online postage providers. The post office says the average Priority savings is 3.5% and for Express Mail it is 3%. Certainly better than a fuel surcharge!

If you use a manifest you pay retail prices and don't get the commercial discount. You might qualify for a volume discount, but this new commercial pricing is guaranteed only if you use online postage. The post office is still holding meetings about this update, so we may see more changes before they are done.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Are You Ready for Monday’s Fuel Surcharge Increase?

Effective May 5, 2008 carrier fuel surcharges for Air and International services will change from 20% to 25%. The fuel surcharge for ground will change from 6.25% to 7.75%. Once again the cost of fuel is hitting us with one of the largest jumps in fuel surcharges for some time. Every business that charges for shipping needs to make sure they have address this increase starting Monday, May 5, 2008. Ignoring this increase could eat deeply into profits, especially if you offer flat rate or free shipping!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The way you handle shipping charges will cost you sales!

There is a good chance that you will lose sales today because the carrier's fuel surcharges are making your product too expensive to buy.

Carrier prices are increasing and fuel surcharges are rising. There is a strategy that allows you to thrive in this period of expensive fuel, not just survive. It's a different approach of how to charge your customers for shipping, and includes monitoring shipping for both package weight and shipping charges. Analyze your actual shipping for these factors and you can start winning this battle against these rising prices.

The Ground shipping surcharge is based on U.S. Department of Energy Highway Diesel Fuel Prices and the Air surcharge is based on the U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) Jet Fuel Price. Both seem to go higher every day. In the last week, a co-worker reported they did not complete 2 different on-line orders because of the shipping charges. One site charged $7.95 for each product ordered. And these were light, small products. To win, you have to successfully combat cart abandonment at order time.

After accurate weight and cost statistics, carrier choice can make a difference, depending on the distance involved and whether you are shipping to a commercial or residential address. Fuel surcharges must be part of the cost statistics or you will not be accounting for 7% to 25% of the total shipping costs. Also, carrier supplied shipping supplies, like free shipping boxes, can also work in your favor. It's important to gain every advantage you can.

Most companies don’t know there is a better way to handle this. Don’t let sales disappear because you are using old software technology. It’s not your fault that the technology in many systems has not kept up with today's challenges and grown old. There is more free information on dealing with shipping costs found at The time to change is now, don’t wait.