Pros: For domestic service, the service is "handy."
Cons: For international service, the service is "abysmal."
If you're printing postage, Stamps.com offers a real value. However, for Click-N-Ship mailers using flat rate USPS Priority Mail services, Stamps.com has only one true virtue. It is a ready backup for those pesky times when the free USPS site is down.
VALUE: Two words come to describe Stamps.com when it comes to Click-N-Ship mailers using flat rate USPS Priority Mail services.
For domestic service, the word is "handy."
For international service, the word is "abysmal."
To be fair, here are other relevant pros and cons for the fee-based Stamps.com and the free online USPS.com system.
ADDRESSING: With Stamps.com, The auto-correcting addressing feature will save you time with difficult domestic addresses. However, this feature is an abysmal failure with international addresses.
With USPS system you enter the addressing info by country and the address validation and customs entries are simple and straightforward.
Worse yet is the issue with international label printing errors.
ERRORS PRINTING INTERNATIONAL LABELS: If there is an error on label printing, the USPS system let's you note that so the charge will automatically fall off your credit card after 10 days.
With Stamps.com, you have to print and sign an affidavit and mail it in, then wait 6 weeks for credit. To add misery to the mix, you have to read 8-point type for the address and hand enter it yourself.
UP TIME: The Achilles heel of the USPS.com system is its credit card services connection. This can be problematic at times.
During the 2008 holiday season was so severe, the Post Office sent Click-N-Ship customers a message telling them to use Stamps.com as a backup to their service.
SHIPPING HISTORY: If you need to access your Stamps.com history while on the road, the outdated legacy approach is a real disadvantage. You need to export a CSV file which means keeping a real-time history available through multiple locations is difficult at best.
With USPS.com, your shipping history is maintained online. A huge benefit if you're on the road a lot.
SCAN SHEETS: The USPS.com site offers shippers the ability to print a Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN) Form. When you deliver your shipments to the local post office with a SCAN form, the clerk literally scans the form and this flags the shipment as being received.
This highly useful feature is not available with Stamps.com and that can be costly disadvantage for shipping overseas. This is because the only tracking information that often makes it into the postal database is an electronic notification, which is NOT proof of shipping.
Ergo, if an overseas credit card customer disputes a shipment for non-delivery, you'll have to the eat the chargeback if all you're showing is the notification.
However, if you do use a SCAN sheet, you're protected from the chargeback as the SCAN form when properly used, ensures proof of mailing.
BUSINESS REQUIRMENTS: The biggest difference between USPS.com and Stamps.com is their fundamental understanding of the business needs for Click-N-Ship mailers using flat rate USPS Priority Mail services. USPS.com really does get it. They understand the business needs of their customers and their site freely offers the best protection and history access.
Stamps.com seems to be intentionally oblivious to these very same business needs. Their software is still based in an antiquated approach dating back to the Windows 95 era. Consequently, Click-N-Ship functionality has been clumsily shoe-horned into legacy code that never anticipated the business model.
To be a true alternative to USPS.com, what Stamps.com does not need is any facelift of a software solution that is long in the tooth. Rather, they need to address the real shipping needs of the 21st century with same level of service offered by USPS.com.
WHICH SERIVCE TO USE: If you're an occasional Click-N-Ship mailer, Stamps.com is a weak value at best. If it does not answer your business needs spot-on, the service is not the price.
If you a high level Click-N-Ship mailer, Stamps.com offers a good value for domestic shipping only. Using this service for international shipments is not advised.
A good strategy for high level shippers is to use USPS.com for international shipments and Stamps.com for domestic shipments where immediate online access to shipping histories is not essential. This way, Stamps.com, as USPS.com suggests, serves a useful role as a fail-over solution as well.