A typical small business spends more than $4,000 per year on the cost of postage. The internet has changed many things about running a business but some things still need to be physically mailed out.
Fortunately, technology can help with this too. Postage meters can save you a lot of time compared to a daily trek to the post office.
What is the best postage meter for a small business? Let’s take a look.
What Is a Postage Meter?
A postage meter is a type of printer that lets you print your own postage for mail and parcels you send through the U.S. Postal Service.
Effectively, it lets you print your own “stamps” instead of using the traditional ones you buy from the USPS. Some postage meters also let you add your company logo or other graphics to the postage sticker so you can brand the mail you send out.
How a Postage Meter Works
Some postage meters print the postage directly onto your mail while others print on meter tape that you can stick onto the envelope or package.
The meter has a scale to weigh the item you’re sending. When you weigh the item, the meter tells you how much postage you need to mail it and then prints the postage for you.
If it prints directly onto the item you’re mailing, there will be some sort of feeder where you place the mail for printing. Some meters provide automatic feeders, which are helpful if you send a lot of mail.
Operating Costs of Using a Postage Meter
When you print your own postage with a meter, you typically pay the same amount of postage as you would if you took the mail to the post office. But you also have some added costs with a postage meter, including:
- Rental or lease fees
These costs are normally all included in the lease fee you pay to the company that provides the meter.
Postage meters are only available to rent, not to buy, and you have to get one from an authorized supplier. You can’t just start printing your own postage with any printer and expect the USPS to accept it.
If you use a postage meter, you may qualify for certain USPS discounts including commercial postage prices and presorted mail discounts. If you send enough mail, these discounts can more than offset the cost of the meter.
How a Postage Meter Can Help Your Business
Using a postage meter can save your business both time and money.
From a time-saving perspective, you don’t need to run back and forth from the post office to send mail or buy more stamps. A postage meter also lets you work on whatever schedule you like. You don’t need to worry about when the post office is open.
On the cost-saving front, if the discounts you qualify for offset the rental costs, any savings beyond that go straight to your bottom-line. You can also be more precise when calculating postage costs.
For example, if you have a large envelope to mail, the meter will calculate the cost down to the penny. If you were sticking old-fashioned stamps on it, you might end up putting more postage on it than necessary if you need to use more than one stamp and don’t have the exact postage available.
Postage Meter Advantages and Disadvantages
Postage meters can save you time and money but they do have a few disadvantages that you need to consider.
Advantages of Using a Postage Meter
There are several benefits to using a postage meter in your small business, including:
- Convenience and time savings
- Postage rate changes get updated automatically so it’s always up-to-date
- You can weigh your mail and calculate the postage from a single device
Postage meters are also stand-alone devices so you don’t need to worry about connecting them to a server or permanent connection. Any updates get sent over a standard wired internet connection.
Disadvantages of Using a Postage Meter
There are a few potential disadvantages of using a postage meter as well. These include:
- Rental costs since you can’t buy it outright
- It only prints postage, not addresses
- It requires a wired internet connection – WiFi isn’t supported
We’ve already discussed how discounts may offset the rental costs so that’s only a drawback if you have very small volumes of mail each month.
What Is the Best Postage Meter for Small Business?
Several companies make postage meters but two, in particular, are the biggest in the industry – Pitney Bowes and Quadient.
The IS-280 is a good option for small businesses. The scale on the standard model can handle mail up to two pounds and a five-pound option is available if you deal with larger items.
This meter comes with 100 stock graphics that you can print alongside your postage, giving you some creative license with the labels. It can process 18 items per minute, which is fast enough for the volume of mail handled by most small businesses.
The IS-280 is best-suited for envelopes and small packages.
Pitney Bowes Mailstation 2
The Mailstation 2 is one of the more compact postage meters, making it ideal for small offices and home offices. It’s small and light, making it easy to move around so you can store it out of sight until needed.
Pitney Bowes includes a free USPS basic online connection in the Mailstation 2 so it can download postage rate changes and other updates automatically. You can also add FedEx and UPS carrier upgrades if you use them for shipping alongside USPS.
Consider Your Needs Before Deciding
To answer the question, “What is the best postage meter?” you need to look at the needs of your business. Consider how many items you mail each month and weigh that against the cost and efficiency of each type of postage meter.
What’s best for one company isn’t necessarily best for another so choose wisely.
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