Postage: Getting it Delivered
Four days before we were supposed to launch the site, we still didn’t have an answer for actually printing the shipping labels. Scott had a “hack” of a solution that involved painful cut-and-pasting via the USPS website. It would work, but it wouldn’t scale.
For as easy as their flat-rate shipping service was, the USPS website had to be one of the most complicated things in the entire universe. Even worse was trying to hook to their developer tools to be able to print postage directly from your own applications. We looked at stamps.com and a few other custom solutions and finally, through a total fluke and some random Google searches, we found endicia.com.
Endicia makes a set of desktop software and developer APIs that basically take all the pain out of creating postage. Not only that, it was relatively inexpensive (service charge plus a little markup) and it created fantastic-looking postage complete with our logo. It even worked on Macs. We looked like a totally legitimate and professional online butcher shop.
The best part was that we could use USPS priority mail and it would be delivered just about anywhere in the Continental US in three days. That meant we could ship on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and still get bacon from Portland, OR all the way to Portland, ME with almost no problems or delays. Most of our bacon was cured, but not all of it, meaning three-day shipping was crucial. In the year we ran the business, we never once had an order that couldn’t be delivered in those three days. Say what you will about the USPS, but they know how to ship boxes. (We’re convinced that adding the “Perishable” label on the box made it move that much quicker, but we have no proof of that whatsoever.)