Shipping Method: US Postal Service


USPS is one of our built-in "live rates" shipping providers that you can use.  When you enable this provider, your shipping rates will be dynamically requested from USPS and displayed to your customers.  You should create a USPS method for each type of UPS service you wish to support.

This article discusses both domestic and international versions of the USPS shipping method.


The following prerequisites will be necessary to accomplish the goals of this article:

  • Have access to your Hotcakes store administration
  • Be familiar with shipping method settings
  • Have a valid USPS account

Getting Started

In order for this shipping method to work, your products need to all have weights and dimensions assigned to them.  You'll also need to create your USPS account, if you haven't already done so.

Shipping Method: US Postal Service

When you manage this shipping method, you have some of the standard shipping method settings, as well as a number of local and global settings that are specific to USPS.  This grouping of settings are local to this instance of the shipping method.  When you create another USPS shipping method, you'll have the opportunity to fill these in differently.  Alternatively, you could just choose to have USPS return all available rates all at once, in a single shipping method setting.

Setting Name Description
Name This is the language friendly name that you'll see in the shipping methods list, and your customers will also see this value in the checkout, receipt, and e-mail notifications.
Highlight Color By default, this value will be "None" but if selected, it will highlight this order in the order manager, when the customer chooses this shipping method during checkout.
Shipping Zone Choose the shipping zone that this method will be used with.
Adjust Price By In addition to the rate table below, you can specify an amount to add or remove from the total shipping rate.  This value can either be a currency value, or percentage, depending on the amount type you choose.  If you enter a negative value, the amount will be deducted from the shipping rate.
Services This setting will look a bit different when looking at the domestic and international versions of the USPS shipping method.  When you're on the domestic version, it will look like what you see above.  The international version will have a larger number of shipping services to choose from.  In both cases, you can choose "All Available Services" if you're willing to use any service your customers might choose.
Package Type You'll only see this setting on the domestic version of the USPS shipping method.  Choose the packaging that you plan to use when shipping the products.  This information is used by USPS to make customer shipping estimates more accurate.

Global Settings

The global settings are those that only need to be set once.  For example, it would be really irritating if you had to look up your USPS account information each time you wanted to add another USPS service to your store.  You'll need to first create an account with USPS before you can enter and save this information. 

Setting Name Description
User Id Your user ID is assigned you upon your USPS account being approved.  You'll be able to look this information up in their administration area.
Diagnostics Mode If you are having issues with your shipping rates and need to troubleshoot them for any reason, check this setting.  You shouldn't leave this checked for long term on any site. When checked, the Event Viewer in the Admin menu will be populated with information sent to and returned from UPS.  This could easily fill up your event log over time, which could end up slowing down your website.
Test/Estimate Rates This link will take you to a new page where you can test the settings you've applied here to see if they work and if they match what you expected.  

Test/Estimate Rates

When testing the USPS rate integration, you'll be forwarded to a page specific to testing USPS rates.  Domestic and international testing works the same way.

Setting Name Description
From Zip Code This will automatically have the postal code entered from the store's address.  Feel free to change this to any other value for testing.
To Zip Code This postal code would be the one where you want to specify as the destination for the package shipment.  
Service Type Choose a specific service if you'd like, or you can just see what services come back, and what the different rates are for each.  This could be useful to see which service(s) you wish to support in your store.
Packaging Type You can choose a specific package if you'd like.  Otherwise, the default would end up choosing a package for you based upon the weight and dimension fields. 
Weight Enter in the full integer for the pounds and ounces.  You should not enter decimals or any other type of character - full numbers only.
Dimensions Enter the length, width, and height, the best you can.  Decimal values are okay here for each field, or you can enter full numbers as well.  If you're testing your own packaging, you should be as accurate as possible here.

When you submit your information for testing, you should see results like below.  If there is more than one matching rate, you'll see each listed, followed by the raw request and response that was sent to and received from USPS.  This is helpful to troubleshoot possible issues with your shipping settings, or orders later.

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