NOTE: References to current pricing in this post are subject to change. Please refer to USPS.com for accurate rates.
Are you taking advantage of an easy-to-use but little-known shipping postage discount called Commercial Base Pricing (CBP)? Use this guide to understand and employ the commercial USPS rate.
In 1968, the USPS charged a mere $0.80 to ship a one-pound package to the closest mail zone via Air Parcel Post. In 1991, the USPS rolled Air Parcel Post into Priority Mail, at which time it cost $2.90 for the same package. Today, the retail price for shipping this package the closest distance via Priority has risen to $5.60.
With the pressure of continuous rising costs, it’s imperative to use all available shipping discounts.
Commercial Base Pricing to the Rescue!
The USPS launched CBP discounts in mid-2008 as a way to reward shippers who use scannable postage markings and send the package data to USPS systems electronically. Electronic automation saves the postal service money and time, which is returned to the user as the CBP discount.
CBP applies to shipping only, not letter mail. There’s no minimum volume, so nearly any business or individual can take advantage of significant discounts ranging from 5% to 55% off USPS retail prices.
What You Need
There are several postage methods that support Commercial Base Pricing. What they all have in common is the ability to print scannable postage codes and send data to the USPS.
Shipping Postage Methods Compatible with Commercial Base Pricing
- Postage Meters & Mailing Systems that print IBI (Information Based Indicia) and send data to USPS.
- USPS Click-N-Ship online service
- PC Postage services
- Permit Imprints
An example of this is FP’s Classic MailOne and MailOne 2.0 software products that interface with our postage meters to print the electronically readable postage information and send the item data directly to the USPS.
Who Should Use CBP
Commercial Base Pricing is a broad ranging discount program, supporting packages up to 70 lbs, expedited flats, and even shipping internationally from the U.S.
There is no minimum shipping volume to ship with CBP. Any business, organization, or individual shipping a small-to-moderate volume of packages and/or flats annually can—and should—use CBP discounts. (Higher volume shippers who ship tens of thousands of packages annually via Priority Mail may qualify for greater discounts under Commercial Plus Pricing.)
USPS Shipping Services Compatible with CBP
- First Class Package
- Priority Mail
- Express Mail
- First Class Package International
- Priority Mail International
- Global Express Guaranteed
How Much Money Can I Save with CBP?
CBP savings is significant, averaging 8.6% for Priority shipments and 17.5% for Express. Here’s a typical scenario to put this in perspective:
Unbreakable Cups Inc. ships 1,000 packages in 2013, averaging $5.50 each at USPS retail Priority rates, for a total of $5,500. But using Commercial Base Pricing drops their shipping costs 8.6% to $5,027. In a market of thin margins, that can spell the difference between profitable success and business failure.
The tables below show current CBP savings (as of June 2013) for shipping a 1-pound package with Priority Mail and Express Mail.
1-Pound Package via Priority Mail
|Flat Rate Type or Zone||Retail||CBP||Discount|
|Flat Rate Envelopes||$5.60||$5.05||9.8%|
|Legal Flat Rate Envelope||$5.75||$5.25||8.7%|
|Padded Flat Rate Envelope||$5.95||$5.70||4.2%|
|Small Flat Rate Box||$5.80||$5.15||11.2%|
|Medium Flat Rate Box||$12.35||$11.30||8.5%|
|Large Flat Rate Box||$16.85||$15.30||9.2%|
|Large Flat Rate Box APO/FPO/DPO||$14.85||$13.30||10.4%|
|Local, Zones 1 and 2||$5.60||$5.05||9.8%|
1-Pound Package via Express Mail
|Flat Rate Type or Zone||Retail||CBP||Discount|
|Flat Rate Envelopes||$19.95||$18.11||9.2%|
|Legal Flat Rate Envelope||$19.95||$18.11||9.2%|
|Padded Flat Rate Envelope||$19.95||$18.11||9.2%|
|Flat Rate Boxes||$39.95||$39.95||0.0%|
|Local, Zones 1 and 2||$16.05||$15.13||5.7%|
The USPS calculates shipping rates primarily by shipping service, weight and distance. The higher zone numbers reflect greater shipping distances. (Flat-rate boxes are the same regardless of weight or distance.)
Getting Started With CBP
If your business or organization uses a postage meter, check with your meter manufacturer or dealer to see if the meter supports CBP. You may need to configure the meter and/or its companion software to use CBP.
Low-volume mailers who use PC postage or USPS Click-N-Ship should have Commercial Base Pricing.
To see how much CBP can save you, check out the USPS Business Price Calculator, where you can experiment with different package types and shipping services.
For speedy, reliable postage meter processing, we invite you to check out the ultra-friendly PostBase with MailOne 2.0 software, which will give you cost-saving Commercial Base Pricing.