Take three mechanical engineers from Stanford providing consulting services to the USPS Facilities department, expand their contributions to other areas, including mail operations; mix in a seemingly innocuous task required of all post offices by the Postmaster General, a little creative problem solving, a sudden realization, and you end up with Endicia.com, which is the same three guys, but now selling postage.
The name of the company is derived from the word "indicia," a marking on bulk mailings used as a substitute for stamps or cancellation. They changed the spelling to make it Internet friendly. Endicia has by far the most comprehensive PC postage package ever designed. In fact, said Harry Whitehouse, Chief Technical Officer and one of the three principals, "We have been growing organically over 40 percent every year. Last year we did $1.1 billion in postage, and were responsible for 90 percent of the growth in USPS priority mail."
Endicia began with the blessing of the United States Post Office, and in 2001 the three principals put it all together. From the beginning, said Whitehouse, their concept was to print the entire mail piece. "There was this demand from people that would have loved to use USPS for shipping, but they didn't feel that there was a smooth interface to producing labels. FedEx and UPS have done it, but USPS was not able to until we came along."
He said people embraced it quickly, saying it was what they had been waiting for. "We had incredible early adoption from Amazon and eBay shippers, and anyone who stumbled upon us. People still ask us where we have been, because now they can do everything they need to without going to the post office," said Whitehouse. "With this application, you can print a label at 5:05 and rush out to hand it to the nearest driver."
Customers pay for the service that makes this happen, but the software is free. "The user downloads software which communicates across the Internet, but it is not a web based application," said Whitehouse. The software and service calculate the weight, the destination, postage, and adds the round, red security stamp. "People think it's hard, but it isn't. It is beautifully easy."
The monthly service plans are $9.95, $15.95, and $34.95. New users get 30 days of free service without any obligation, although they have to pay the postage online. Whitehouse said the $34.95 plan is best for companies who do a few hundred in postage or more every day. "Additionally," he said, "they may need to drive our system with their own application. The software can be made a slave, and they can assemble a message with the destination address, the weight, and the mail class, and the software prints the label. They do not even see our software in the background."
High volume users may also qualify for the Free Service plan, which through the USPS is open to companies doing over $5,000 per month in priority express mail. "The other two levels can easily handle companies who do less that that," said Whitehouse.
Their website is not as complex as it sounds. For those who send more letters than packages, the box titled Mailing on the bottom left of the home page provides options. "Printing stamps this way is a very inexpensive way to replace a postage meter, and it works with a Dymo printer. The user buys a special roll of labels that look like postage stamps, and have a red fluorescent perimeter necessary to get through operations," Whitehouse explained. "The free software package asks you how much postage you want and provides choices. It is the first zero fee postage meter ever."
The bulk of the value to the customer is their shipping solution, Dazzle, which also provides the stamp solution. Whitehouse recommends starting by choosing Sign Up Now, and then selecting the $9.95 per month service option. "The low cost option provides tremendous functionality, and upgrading later is easy. The beauty of our software is that it will work with whatever printer they have." Next the user puts in his account number and pass phrase, and is asked if he would like to buy some postage. The drop down box starts at $10 and goes to $5,000. Whitehouse recommends starting with $10. "We just broker the transaction," he said. "The money goes right to USPS, so they should keep only as much as is needed for the day or the afternoon. The postage can be replenished anytime."
From there, the user chooses one of about 20 layouts, which provide for multiple options such as Avery labels or international layouts. Whitehouse said they are mostly sample layouts to get people started, and notes the program allows for custom layouts as well. And there is plenty of onsite advice. Clicking on Print Your First Label provides technical help, including a video tutorial, FAQ and specific tutorial links.
The starter kit option, which seems like the logical place to start, is tailored more to customers who do high volume and are sure they want to use Endicia. Whitehouse does not recommend that option because of the cost. With the ability to upgrade, he said, "I am confident that if they try it, they will be blown away. They will see it is what they have been waiting for, for years."
If the convenience alone is not sufficient reason, there is the ability to reap additional rewards through discounts. "Using our technology to create a shipping label gives a discount from anywhere from five to eleven percent off the retail counter. The postal service was never able to differentiate grandma walking to the counter with one package, from the guy sending 50 packages a day. Now they can," he said. Another benefit is that there is no limit to the number of machines on which a company can install the software, because the software is free. Charges incurred are for the service fee and the postage. Whitehouse said, "A company can have somebody in the office printing out stamps and sending out invoices, and then have three stations in the shipping room, each using the same account."
Recently they aligned themselves with Newell Rubbermaid, who already owns Dymo, and now have the power, connections and money to take what is a revolutionary product and move it forward. "We have more advertising money now, but the name is still relatively unknown," said Whitehouse. "When people think of postage, they think of Pitney Bowes, but we actually produce more postage in the shipping environment than they do. In fact, we OEM their product called Shipstream. It is run on our service."
The essence of Endicia is the simplicity and the convenience, along with plans for every conceivable size company. "We have a guy who sells Hawaiian shirts in Hawaii, and sends easily 1,000 shipments out of his house each week," said Whitehouse. "I love to design this stuff. We happen to make money on the way which is great, but even after the buyout, I'm still working."
ORDERING: Numerous plans available. Recommendation is to begin with Sign Up Now and select the $9.95 a month service plan to become familiar with the program through the 30 day free trial, and then upgrade, depending on individual need.
For more information, contact:
247 High Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Toll Free: 800-576-3279 x140
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