Online merchants are increasingly feeling the pressure to offer free shipping, but, as they're fond of saying, there's no such thing as free shipping. That point is being driven home this week after the U.S. Postal Service announced it would raise postage rates on Jan. 27, 2013, pending review by the Postal Regulatory Commission. The popular Priority Mail service will increase overall an average of 6.3 percent. Retail prices will increase an average of 9 percent, but approximately 3 percent of the increase is for free tracking visibility which will now be included at no charge.
During July and August, the U.S. Postal Service is offering an up-front 2 percent discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards (presort and automation) that include a two-dimensional barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device. When scanned, the technology must activate a link directly to either a mobile-optimized web page that allows the mail recipient to purchase a product or service or to a mobile-optimized and customized web page uniquely tailored to the mail recipient and accessible by a personalized URL.