Steve's blog

A blog about what's going on in Analysis UK...

SmartStamp Hacks.

After my other post talking about wishful improvements to SmartStamp, I realised I have one little “hack” that I should share.

If like me you sell your books (CD’s, DVD’s etc) in the evening after you’ve completed your day job printing a stamp only really gives you the option of sending the parcel the next day, where as if you use SmartStamp during the day (9-5 style) you can post the item that day or the next.

The simple work around for this is to print your stamps after midnight, I appreciate not everyone is a night owl like my self so maybe print them the next morning, but ideally don’t print them between getting home from work and midnight.

This gives you an extra day in which your stamp will be valid. Ideally we all want to post our parcels the next day so the buyer gets them as soon as possible, but on the odd occasion we don’t get to put them in the post that day, when this happens your stamp is invalid and you have to do a new one, and apply for a refund. By printing after midnight you get an extra bit of grace to get your parcel in the post.

Hopefully one day RM may update SmartStamp so you get an extra day after 6pm or so, but for now wait till midnight +1 min before stamping!.


Changes to postage options

It came to my attention that a number of members have listed their items for sale and left the national postage as “Ask”. Whilst I have no objection to this the one thing it results in is a poor sell through rate.

When a buyer looks to buy a item they will either not buy the item if they have to ask the seller what the postage would be, or they will just go else where and buy the book, CD or DVD, possible after requesting to buy from the seller, never returning to actually pay for it when the postage price has been clarified.

If the seller does accept payment through PayPal the buyer is unable to immediately pay for the item as it isn’t possible to include postage.

I appreciate some sites have a fixed postage rate which helps avoid this situation, but, and are intended to be more flexible to sellers and allow them to set a more appropriate rate if they wish, or to setup their own default rate.

With this in mind I have removed the option of setting "Ask" and "Not Available" postage amounts for national postage. All items currently listed with this will still be valid but when you come to edit them you will not be able to save the values until you correct the postage options.

Note that this is only for items that are listed for sale.

Please take the time to set up your preferences (MyAccount->Preferences) and set a default postage rate as this will help you when listing your stuff for sale.


SmartStamp feedback.

Isn’t this typical, I don’t post for ages then I post twice in one day!

This is a call out to all SmartStamp users who like me are disappointed with the application and feel a few simple improvements would make a massive difference and reduce a lot of frustration.

Royal Mail are conducting a survey to get feedback on the product and on the SmartStamp web site. Please take the time to visit the SmartStamp Website and fill in the questionnaire (you should get a pop up asking if you wish to take part in the questionnaire if it’s still running).

Don’t let me put you off SmartStamp though, if you are selling books, CD’s, DVD’s etc then it is a great way to avoid the queue at your local post office which can be a huge time saver, just launch the application, after some fiddling hit print and you have a little stamp all ready to put on your package then drop it in the post (or skip the queue at the post office and drop it at the counter or in the bag).

The SmartStamp application has some great potential with the ever increasing eCommerce market and the increase in home based businesses. Being able to print a little stamp is a huge benefit, even if it does require me to alter a multitude of settings every time I launch the application just to be able to do the same thing I do every time and create a simple stamp.

I have to say I’m still hugely disappointed that Royal Mail choice to charge so much to rent the application, I believe it’s cheaper than franking but then at least you get some discount on the postage with franking. This is after all just another way to allow you to purchase Royal Mail’s main product, postage.

You also have to watch out when you post your package as the stamp has a short life and if you miss the post your stamp may not be valid the next day.

SmartStamp is a registered trademark of Royal Mail. All views expressed in my blog entries are personal views and do not represent the views of Analysis UK Ltd or anybody/business related to Analysis UK Ltd other than my self.

UK postage changes on 21 August 2006

I’m sure most sellers in the UK know by now, but in case you have been hiding under the mound of books that you are selling please be aware that the postage rates and the method of calculating the postage is changing.

The new method uses size (volume) and weight to calculate the postage. Royal Mail have been sending out guides left right and centre with an easy to use guide to parcel/letter classification.

For me when I sell books I think the new postage prices will cut my postage costs massively which will be more then welcome and I should imagine this would be the same for a lot of book sellers across the UK.

Interestingly second class post will also be available up to 1Kg where it was limited to 750g before, typically most of the books I sell are in the 700g-1.2Kg range so this does give me the opportunity to make a little extra saving if I need to.

Generally I prefer first class post as I think the little extra it costs is worth the customer getting it faster and the perceived impression a first class stamp on the package makes over a second class stamp. If I’ve sold a book through Amazon market place then the buyer has to pay a fixed postage price which is not reflected by the item they are buying, if the book is light to post then sellers can make money on the postage, however from a customer point of view paying about £3 and receiving a book in the post with a 60p second class stamp creates a bad first impression – in my eyes anyway!.

European Shareware Conference – Hope to see you there.

The 2006 European Shareware Conference is being held up the road from me here in Cambridge, UK on the 4th and 5th of November. I naturally signed up as soon as I found out. It looks like quite an interesting schedule even if it does start way to early on a weekend morning for my liking!

Anyway, I’m very excited as this will be the first shareware conference I’ve been to and I’m looking forward to meeting lots of other ISV’s in the same boat as my self and learning lots of new skills (fingers crossed for marketing and sales!).

Hope to see lots of you there,