I see it happening all the time… websites with no physical mailing address. It’s as if they don’t exist anywhere but in the scary world of cyberspace. I say scary because that’s exactly what a high percentage of the web browsing population thinks of the Internet. When these people are looking to purchase a product and don’t see a physical address, they get scared and very likely abandon the purchase. And don’t think that a typical email address for your contact information cuts it. People want a physical location.
So, what do you do? Simple. Use a physical mailing address as a contact option in your ‘Contact Us’ page and/or website order form. However, if you’re a website owner that operates from your home, don’t go and attach your home address to your website just yet, you might want to think about your mailing options.
Deciding where to have your business mail sent is not as straightforward as you might think. There are a few factors that you have to take into consideration – quantity of mail received, length of time at location, convenience, and of course, cost. The good news is that you have several options that are available to you:
- Your Home Address
- Mailing Services (The UPS Store, etc.)
- Mail Forwarding
- P.O. Box
Using your home address:
Using your home address is definitely the cheapest option. To the small to medium size website owners, it is probably the best option. However, if you tend to grow rapidly, or if your website already has a large user-base, then your home address may not be the best option for you.
If you are selling products from your website and allowing customers the option to mail in their order (which is good practice – and many do), then you could potentially get a lot of mail, depending on the user-base of your website, of course. If this is the case, you may find yourself spending a half hour out of each day prying your mail out of your tiny home mailbox that is not big enough to accommodate all that mail. Furthermore, if you ever move you will need to forward your mail to your new location, which never seems to be as smooth as you’d like it to be.
Then there’s the fact the all of your customers can easily find out where you live. Not that you’re hiding from anyone! But you could find yourself in the situation where you have a few inquisitive customers that don’t mind “stopping by” to ask a few questions!
Using a Mailing Services (The UPS Store, etc.):
The use of a mailing service can be quite expensive ($25-$45 per month). However, there are some benefits. You can assign a suite number or have a real street name assigned to your business address, instead of a P.O. box. This can give the potential customer the impression that your business has an office or building that resides at the location. However, I have found that the cost of this service usually outweighs the benefits associated with it. Nevertheless, the money you pay to use a mailing service is tax deductible as a business expense.
Using Mail Forwarding:
Now, if you REALLY want to get fancy you can opt for the mail forwarding option. Here you can pay a company in a “big time” city like New York or Chicago to accept your mail and forward your mail to you. This is EXPENSIVE! And there is another major drawback – you are always getting your mail about 2-5 days late due to the forwarding time.
Using a P.O. Box:
The use of a P.O. Box is, in my opinion, the best choice for those that run high traffic websites out of their home. Not only does your mail get to the P.O. Box more quickly, but also the cost is relatively cheap (about $50-$125 per year). Again, this cost is a business expense, so save your receipt and write it off!
In my opinion and experience, most people are accustom to the P.O. Box and do not mind sending orders to it. In fact, many big companies use P.O. boxes as a matter of conveniently keeping the mail separate.
There you have it, four good ways to make your customers feel more secure by adding a physical address to your website. Pick the one that suits you and your company’s needs best – everyone is different. The important thing is to give your customers a place to send physical mail.