Knowledgebase
USPS Flat Rate Boxes
21 Jan 17 07:10 PM

USPS Priority Mail offers Flat Rate pricing (using their boxes) for Domestic and International service regardless of the destination or package weight (well, almost-- for international services there is a 20 lb weight limit for the regular and large box, and a 4 lb limit for the small box). The only qualification is that your item/s can fit into one of the flat rate boxes.

We also support the Priority Mail Regional flat rate boxes, if you qualify to use them (i.,e, you qualify for commercial base rates, and have so configured your USPS Entry Point in AuctionInc). See below for details.

With our USPS Advanced Module, we also support "cubic" flat rate pricing for shippers who qualify for Commercial Plus pricing, which allows you to use your own boxes and still receive a rate based on volume (and zone), regardless of weight.

Determining Fit

Figuring out if a single item will fit into one of the flat rate boxes -- and which one -- is relatively straightforward for a single item, although almost no shipping calculators attempt to do even this.  But what if there are multiple items or quantities in the cart?  This is where AuctionInc excels.  Your customer will only be offered flat rate box pricing for Priority Mail if you will actually be able to package the items in the order into one of these boxes.

Determining Pricing

This flat rate pricing is probably the best deal in package delivery -- sometimes.

AuctionInc will determine the rate for Priority Mail for your package based both on the flat rate (if qualified) and also on the regular calculated rate using your own box, and use whichever rate is the less expensive. This is very important since, as good a deal as these boxes can sometimes be, that is not always the case. For lighter items, especially if they are not being sent across too many postal zones, using your own packaging may well be cheaper. AuctionInc will determine what packaging is best for you and your customer for each order.

Using Flat Rate Boxes with AuctionInc

When you have USPS Flat Rate boxing enabled in your AuctionInc account (Carrier Settings page), the shipping calculator will offer the appropriate flat rate price for Priority Mail if all of the following conditions are met:

  • You have listed dimensions for all the items in the package;
  • The dimensions of the package fit into dimensions of one of the flat rate boxes (see below);
  • The package does not exceed any box weight limit that may exist;
  • The flat rate is less than the calculated rate based on the item weight.
    (Our USPS Advanced plugin provides additional configuration settings.)

The flat rate boxes are available in four sizes:

(Our USPS Advanced Module also supports the "Game" Box dimensions: 23.6875" X 11.75" X 3")

2017 Retail Prices:

Box Type Domestic
Priority
Domestic
International
Priority 
Small Box $7.15 varies by country
4 lb limit
Regular Box $13.60 varies by country
20 lb limit
Large Box $18.85 varies by country
20 lb limit


2017 Commercial Base prices:

Box Type Domestic
Priority
International
Priority 
Small Box $6.45 varies by country
4 lb limit
Regular Box $12.40 varies by country
20 lb limit
Large Box $17.05 varies by country
20 lb limit


2017 Commercial Plus prices:

Box Type Domestic
Priority
International
Priority 
Small Box $6.25 varies by country
4 lb limit
Regular Box $12.05 varies by country
20 lb limit
Large Box $16.55 varies by country
20 lb limit

 

Volume Calculations for Multiple Items:  retail boxes

When our packaging engine determines if the items in the cart/shipment can fit into one of these boxes, if it is dealing with a single item only, it simply checks the item dimensions against the USPS-provided dimensions of each box. However, when dealing with multiple items or quantities, our packaging engine uses an overall volume figure rather than specific dimensions.  Specifically, the USPS box dimensions are multiplied to determine initial volume, and then a "loss factor" of 15% is factored in to take into account pack materials and packing inefficiencies. Both the largest and smallest of all the item dimensions in the cart/shipment are checked, and the total item volume is compared against our derived box volume as indicated in the following table. (If you subscribe to our USPS Advanced plugin, you have additional options to control this factor.)

 

Box Type Volume used for multiple items
(cubic inches)
Small Box 64
Regular Box 1 437
Regular Box 2 464
Large Box 673

 

Determining if AuctionInc Used a Flat Rate Box

Auctioninc provides an appropriate code to let you know if Priority Mail pricing was determined using a flat rate box, and which one.

If you are subscribed to our ShopCart, your customer has selected Priority Mail, and at least one package in the order qualifies for one of the above flat rat boxes, you will see either "SFRB", "FRB1", "FRB2" or "LFRB" in our shipping "item" in your PayPal or Amazon order.  

If you are using one of our plugin modules, the code will in in the packaging detail in your order.  

In our API, the code is returned with Detail Level > 1.

(If there are multiple packages that have been packaged into any of the flat rate envelopes or boxes, the code will read "Multiple FRB". If using our cart, you may want to put the order items into your cart and use our Shipping Inspector to view the exact packaging that was rated.) 

 

Regional Flat Rate Boxes

if you qualify for USPS Commercial Base pricing (i.e., you are printing your labels online via PayPal, usps.com, endicia.com, stamps.com, a postage meter, or any other approved method, you qualify for commercial base pricing, which can be as much as a 10% discount from the retail rates. (You need to set your AuctionInc USPS Entry Point to "Commercial Base" to generate commercial base pricing for USPS rates.)

And, as an additional bonus, you also qualify to use the Regional Flat Rate boxes, which can be significantly less expensive than the Retail boxes.

If you have indicated in AuctionInc that we should test your items for a fit into the USPS flat rate boxes, and you have also configured your Entry Point to Comm. Base, then we will test both the retail flat rate boxes and the regional flat rate boxes for fit and best pricing. Priority Mail will be priced at whichever rate is best among the regular calculated rate and any retail or regional boxes into which your items fit. (Our USPS Advanced plugin provides more configuration options for controlling this determination.)

The Regional flat rate boxes are available in four sizes:

10 x 7 x 4-3/4 inches (REG-A1)

12-13/16 x 10-15/16 x 2-3/8 inches (REG-A2)

12 x 10-1/4 x 5 inches (REG-B1)

15-7/8 x 14-3/8 x 2-7/8 inches (REG-B2)

 

Prices for the Regional Boxes

Oddly enough, they are not actually flat. There are 8 different rates for the 9 zones (zone 1 & 2 are combined). So the further the destination, the more expensive.  AuctionInc will determine the best price between the calculated rate, and any of both the appropriate Retail box and Regional box into which the items fit.

Volume Calculations for Multiple Items:  Regional Boxes

When our packaging engine determines if the items in the cart/shipment can fit into one of these boxes, if it is dealing with a single item only, it simply checks the item dimensions against the USPS-provided dimensions of each box. However, when dealing with multiple items or quantities, our packaging engine uses an overall volume figure rather than specific dimensions.  Specifically, the USPS box dimensions are multiplied to determine initial volume, and then a "loss factor" of 15% is factored in to take into account pack materials and packing inefficiencies. Both the largest and smallest of all the item dimensions in the cart/shipment are checked, and the total item volume is compared against our derived box volume as indicated in the following table.

 

Box Type Volume used for multiple items
(cubic inches)
Box A (1 & 2) 282
Box B-1 615
Box B-2 656

 

Regional Codes

If you are subscribed to our ShopCart, your customer has selected Priority Mail, and at least one package in the order qualifies for one of the above flat rat boxes, you will see either "REG-A1", "REG-A2", "REG-B1", "REG-B2", or "REC-C" in our shipping "item" in your PayPal order.

(If there are multiple packages that have been packaged into any of the flat rate envelopes or boxes, the code will read "Multiple FRB". You may want to put the order items into your cart and use our Shipping Inspector to view the exact packaging that was rated.) 

These codes are also returned in our Shipping Rates API, and in our plug-in modules.

 

Commercial Plus and "Cubic" Pricing

If you qualify for Commercial Plus pricing (typically by subscribing to a service that generates group membership rates), you also qualify for highly discounted "Cubic" flat rate pricing. Not only is this pricing further discounted, it also allows you to use your own boxes rather than the USPS boxes. This provides you the opportunity to get the best of both worlds:  your own branded boxes along with the best volume-based discount available.

Our USPS Advanced plugin offers support for Commercial Plus and Cubic flat rate pricing.

 

A Note about Fit with Multiple Items

We conduct two types of tests to see if the cart item/s fit into a given flat rate box: 1) is the total volume of the cart item/s less than the total volume (minus 15% to account for wastage) of the box? 2) Is the largest, middle, and smallest dimension for each item less than or equal to the largest, middle and smallest dimension of the flat rate box? When there is just one cart item, these tests are 100% reliable if your item dimensions are correct. But with multiple cart items, these tests do not and cannot account for the almost infinite way that multiple items can be arranged in a given three-dimensional space. There may be occasions where there is a mismatch between AuctionInc's determination of fit and what you are able to actually fit or not fit in "real life" with a given set of multiple items. (Our USPS Advanced plugin provides additional configuration options for controlling this determination.)


For more information see the USPS site for Priority flat rate box information.

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