Working to save the planet and the children, American Childrens Safety Network felt like a little fish in a big pond. Thats the same problem many expanding companies face when they begin to look at shipping options. But even the biggest fish needs time to grow. So, how can a growing business compete with giant corporations that are receiving large discounts and have professionally designed packaging? The answer is free Cradle-to-Cradle certified, customized and co-branded flat-rate  expedited packaging through the USPS.

First-Hand Experience

American Childrens Safety Network (ACSN) President Steven Jones runs just such an organization. Located in Paris, MO, ACSNs purpose is to help prevent head injuries by promoting bicycle safety. They work with low-income families, children K-12 and parents of all income levels through safety programs and the distribution of educational materials. They sell old license plates through their website at to raise money to purchase bicycle helmets, knee pads and child carriers. These free safety items are then distributed through Community Safety events throughout the country.

Trying to compete against larger charities like the Red Cross and the Elks for donations isnt easy, Jones says. We all offer good services to people in need, but in donations, name recognition is everything. It sounded like a great idea, raising money by recycling old license plates, but ACSN needed a solution on how to collect the old plates from the license offices and to ship out their helmets and car seats to police and fire departments across the country. Jones turned to the Postal Service for help.

When we heard about ACSN and their work to keep kids safe, we wanted to help out, explains Gary Reblin, Vice President of the Postal Services Expedited Mail group. The Postal Service is dedicated to being the leader in eco-friendly shipping. So what better company to create customized packaging for than one involved in recycling and protecting kids?

Jones knew a good deal when he saw one. He uses Priority Mail for everything. The new customized Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes are the perfect size to hold around 20 pounds of license plates. ACSN only needs to place their pre-printed boxes at the county license offices with a Merchandise Return Service label attached, and the licensing offices mail them to him when theyre full. The process is much easier now, says Jones. We use Priority Mail for fulfillment, too. The Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes work perfectly for sending out license plates sold on our website, and now that we can use the same packaging for international orders, the whole process is even easier. I save approximately $130 to $150 per piece since I began shipping my international orders through the Postal Service.

It means a lot that the Postal Services free packaging received the cradle-to-cradle certification, Jones shares. Our business is all about recycling, and knowing the Postal Service cared enough about the environment to create eco-friendly packaging really sealed the deal.

We love all the Postal Services flat-rate products. We use the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes to send out the license plates to those who purchase them on our website and the Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes to receive the license plates from the licensing offices and to send out the bicycle helmets. Now, with the new Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box, weve been able to increase our savings while sending out even more safety products in just one box, and weve opened up a new market shipping to APO/FPO destinations and save on the postage even more.

Priority Mail gets the orders to customers quickly, and using Merchandise Return Service enables ACSN to pay for postage through a corporate account. The flat-rate products let them know up front how much each shipment will cost. Getting the boxes for free was also a large benefit, comments Jones. The flat-rate boxes really save us money and make our accounting easier, giving us more time and money for our projects.

Jones says the packaging co-branding was a big help in increasing the groups visibility. Having Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes co-branded with the groups logo allowed them to get their name in front of the authorities in charge of the license plates. The more their logo was noticed, the more other offices wanted to be a part of the program. That co-branding effort delivered results: American Family Childrens Network is now the authorized collection point for expired license plates for 13 states, and it receives monetary donations from around the country.

The boxes really helped us get noticed, Jones says. Our program depends on both business and individual donors. We were able to receive additional donations and funding because people noticed our professional packaging. We received numerous comments about the Postal Service packaging, and other businesses wanted to know how to do it.

Recently, ACSN teamed up with police and fire departments to host bicycle safety events across the country. They are always looking for helmets to give the children. To date, more than 500,000 bicycle helmets have been distributed, and the program continues to grow.

The shipping options chosen by a business can make or break its reputation. Choosing a leader in the industry with the safety and security offered only by the U.S. Postal Service lets customers know that their business is important. Priority Mail has quick, reliable service while offering many cost-saving opportunities by having some of the most competitive prices in the industry.

Priority Mails flat-rate options are another money-saver, for both domestic and international shipments. And when Priority Mail postage is paid through online channels, customers get free delivery confirmation and a five percent discount for Priority Mail International shipments. With the new Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box, customers and
businesses also get two dollars off when shipping to APO/FPO destinations. Those price incentives have the potential to open up new markets.

These days, businesses that show theyre taking environmental concerns into account will also impress customers showing that they care not only about the bottom line, but about their customers futures, too. With so many people thinking green these days, can a business afford not to use an eco-friendly shipping solution?