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Show HN: EasyPost - the Stripe for postage (easypost.co)
157 points by jstreebin on Sept 18, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 83 comments



I've been using this for years now and love it:

https://rocketship.it/

It is a slightly different concept, you pay once and get code that gives you a uniform interface for communicating with the different carriers (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.).

Since it is a one time fee I didn't expect support, however, the developer has been very responsive and helpful whenever I've run into a problem.


Developer of RocketShipIt, thanks for the kind words!


I don't know if I'd say it's a "slightly different concept"... EasyPost is an API. RocketShip.it is downloadable software. It's like comparing a Roomba and a vacuum cleaner.


One of the ideas in my ideas file is a service that provides an API for sending letters. You simply send a PDF/DOC/etc along with address information, your API key, postage type, etc, and then the letter is printed (by myself) and posted.

Possible uses of the service would be automatic sending of invoices or mailing out payment reminders or contracts that need to be signed, etc.

There are a few companies that provide similar services but I haven't found one that does it in a particularly nice way. They often require using SOAP and don't have modules for common frameworks and SDKs for common languages.

Would any of you use this or are letters completely dead to young companies?


International is where this could really shine, print out at the location closest to where the letter needs delivering & avoid international prices


avoid international prices

For many pairs of countries the price of sending a letter from A->B is less than sending a letter within B. In addition I imagine the labor costs of having people stuff envelopes will a significant source of costs. So you're probably better off picking 3-5 central points with cheap labor and cheap postage, rather than opening dozens of small centers all around the globe


That would be great as if there was no one servicing your area you could potentially sign up as a 'poster' allowing more remote areas to be connected if someone was available.


.....nice idea!


I would like to be able to timeshift delivery which would sit well with your solution, eg. buy cards en masse, write them out all at once, pay one fee delivery charge, then they are delivered as required at different dates -- perfect for birthday cards for example



I used Postful for years, and moved to PostalMethods when Postful was sold a couple of years ago.

I quite like PostalMethods -- it's even simpler than Postful was (Postful required the to address in the subject line of your email). They help you format your letters so the addressee will show up in the right location for a window envelope... then once you're all set up, you just send PDFs to them via email, and each email is another letter printed and posted.

They have an API as well (I think that's actually their focus), but I've never used it -- I only need snail mail at low volume and manually-created, so email is perfect.

I don't have any need for EasyPost, personally -- because I'm doing principally US mail while I'm living elsewhere in the world.


We've used PostalMethods with both Quickbooks (invoicing clients who don't take email for invoices; Quickbooks emails the invoice to PostalMethods, who prints and mails it for us) and for our clients (using the API to send letters and postcards).

We love them.


I looked for a service like that a year or so ago and found this:

https://click2mail.com/email-to-mail

At the time their signup process was broken so I couldn't test it out, but the idea is very similar to what you described. You send an email to them with a specially formatted subject line, plus a body and/or attachments, and they mail it for you.


A big issue is document security...you will have to convince companies to trust you with confidential documents.


Stamps.com uses SOAP and is terrible. I would love a nice Json/REST based shipping API.


Intriguing. What would HN think of an API for physically printing and mailing things? i.e., an API where you pay ~$0.50 per postcard, and it is printed and deposited in the mail autonomously. You could use it for CRM applications, address verification (like Google Adwords), etc


http://www.postalmethods.com/lp/postcard-api http://www.viapost.com/

I know there are others too but I can't find them at the moment.



Not exactly the same thing, but I am building a site for my wife to do custom greeting cards. It's not really at a stage where it is designed to be used automatically, but if someone was interested, we'd be willing to look at it.

The current site is the product of a couple days of teaching myself how to use Stripe, Bootstrap, and PHP, since I'm not really a web developer.

http://www.heartstoheartscards.com


A few API's like this have been posted (ha) before. I investigated this just a little bit since at one time I had an idea that upload a postcard image and mail it to anywhere in the world but I never really found something I liked.

http://www.hnsearch.com/search#request/all&q=postcard+ap...


I'd use it, especially if you can somehow connect it to HelloSign. This is something older people really need, at least from my limited view of my grandparents. They get so many forms and if I could help them fill them out and send them remotely this would be worth real money to me.


I thought of this one, too. It'd be great for a higher touch marketing message.


Extremely interested in address verification. Please tell me it does normalization/correction that is able to take fuzzy/dirty/invalid data and yield a proper and well-formatted address into standard fields?


This is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm really hoping I don't have to integrate with FedEx web services for address verification. If the price is right, my company will gladly pay for this service over the free service provided by FedEx.


Just as an FYI UPS and FedEx both use the USPS address verification API in the backend.


We're currently using Google's Geocoder and Yahoo's Placefinder, which work okay, but they both have numerous flaws and various TOS policies we're ignoring for the moment.

Would happily pay for this service as well.


Excellent. Yes, I'm hearing from a lot of potential customers that they're having to pull in address verification from one source, labels from another, and all hacked together in Magento.


Is anyone else experiencing DNS issues resolving api.easypost.co?

  ; <<>> DiG 9.8.1-P1 <<>> @8.8.8.8 api.easypost.co A
  ; (1 server found)
  ;; global options: +cmd
  ;; Got answer:
  ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NXDOMAIN, id: 20795
  ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 0, AUTHORITY: 1, ADDITIONAL: 0

  ;; QUESTION SECTION:
  ;api.easypost.co.   IN  A

  ;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
  easypost.co.    1667  IN  SOA dns1.web-hosting.com. hosting-notifications.namecheaphosting.com. 2012091008     86400 7200 3600000 86400

  ;; Query time: 44 msec
  ;; SERVER: 8.8.8.8#53(8.8.8.8)
  ;; WHEN: Tue Sep 18 09:48:17 2012
  ;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 128


API not up yet, sry


In France, you can connect to « La Poste »'s website to send letters from the web. Problem is this site is particularly painful to use. UX is awful, error messages are useless, and so on.

I could totally use a simple rest api to print and send a pdf as a physical letter


Do any of these services have the ability to optimize packaging of goods?

Say you sell physical goods. A customer buys multiple items. They each have known shipping dimensions.

The question is: How do you consolidate the shipment into one or more boxes in order to optimize for minimum shipping costs?

Keep in mind that minimum shipping costs could also include the cost of shipping supplies as well as packaging and handling labor.

The most basic problem is fitting n packages of m[i] dimensions into the available stock of standard boxes and pick the arrangement that provides the least postage cost.


You realize this is basically the same as the NP-Hard Knapsack problem?


Right, but that wasn't the question. Having done a lot of work with genetic algorithms, among other things, I have no doubt that I could sit down and write a reasonably useful solution. However, it would be absolutely brilliant if this was already part of an existing shipping API.

I think it would be very useful if these shipping API's accepted package specifications and helped optimize final packaging while in the process of providing a quote. If you want to talk about differentiating a solution, this, most definitely, would.


It may be infeasible at massive scale, but many systems do it right now with approximation algorithms, heuristics, and integer programming. Fedex, Walmart, Amazon, and most other industrial or logistics corporations have teams of people with a background in discrete optimization or operations research building and improving similar systems.

I'm not aware of any public APIs for this at present.


I'm in charge of IT for an ecommerce company, and I just wrote code for this last week.

We wanted to speed things up by packing product directly into our shipping boxes instead of boxing it up after the fact, and it was a lot of fun solving this problem. I specifically wrote very generic code, so there's no reason why it couldn't run off of any list of products/boxes.

If there was interest into this sort of thing, it probably wouldn't be terribly difficult to turn it into some sort of API over the next few months.


As someone who is just now tackling USPS integration for the first time on behalf of a client, you certainly have my interest.


Cool! Exactly what I've seen with my own integration. Huge pain points here


On signup: Maybe more wording to indicate I've signed up for beta instead of just a check mark? Since I don't know if the check mark means I've signed up or just the email is verified.

On "using": Slightly confusing to put it after the first drop down. It took me a few seconds to get it, I would put "using" in between the 2 drop downs instead.


Maybe just get rid of the validation altogether?

Fixed -- how's that look? put the 'using' before second drop down


Oh, so the check mark really just means it's valid? So I haven't signed up for beta? If so, it really needs to be fixed.

On "using": I would align the 2 drop downs, either with just empty space in front of first, or put some text like "Let me", or just put "using" on a line by itself.


Yeah, initially had both name and email so was using the validation. Will just get rid of the validation altogether. thanks for the heads up!


typo on signup form: Shipping price "comparison"


Fixed!


For Canadian customers, Canada Post has finally added an API to create & print labels. My company uses Stamps.com's API to print USPS labels (I have Django code if anyone's interested) but this would definitely have saved us some development time.


Exactly, that's what I"m hearing from a lot of potentials--too much dev time to get postage working


Would totally use this for address verification. Wonder what the pricing is.


Love the presentation of the various API calls in each language. My only nitpick is one I have for a lot of code displays like this -- selecting the code also selects line numbers =)


Ha! I was just thinking I should get rid of those :)


Would love to use this for my ecommerce site (StartupThreads) as we move to a custom system.

Most interested in the shipping price comparison: what providers are you supporting?


I'm looking at starting with USPS, FedEx, and UPS


Out of curiosity, how are you doing this? IIRC a few years ago when I was playing around with the FedEx API it explicitly forbade using it for price comparison with other carriers.

Are there aggregator APIs that you're using? Or have the T&C changed?


It is still the same, you can't even have other carrier rates near UPS rates.


Somewhat related question - are these types of services capable of printing first class letter postage ie something to use in place of a "forever" stamp?


The closest I've seen/done for this is a $1.64 stamp for first class 1 oz. Agree, this would be very nice to have


Very nice. Would you plan to offer international shipping options ? Just out of curiosity, what mapping engine are you using to geocode?


Planning on offering int'l but starting with domestic


Looking at your images of code they look blurry on Mac. Just a friendly heads up. :) Besides that, Looks like a great idea. Cheers!


Thanks! I noticed that, too, but was thinking it was a Retina issue. Apparently not. Will fix


Interesting. I could immediately use the simple address verification.

I wonder what the return value of a purchase call is?


I'm planning on making it a URL to a pdf of the postage...that work?


I think USPS labels are returned as PNGs - would probably be easier to just shoot that back, no? At least our method of generating USPS labels (Stamps.com API) shoots back PNGs.


Ah, okay. Yes, that'd be easier. Other services provide PDFs but agree PNGs better


You could bake this into the REST API via the "Accept:" header. The default when not specified is whatever you set, but the caller can specify "Accept: image/png" to get a PNG image, "Accept: application/pdf" for PDF, and so on for whatever other types of output you support. The advantage of PDF (or SVG even) is that, if it was constructed using text/vectors, the output resolution is limited only by the capabilities of the printer.


Ah, great idea. I like that


Could you add syntax-highlighting to the examples?

Using httpie as an alternative to curl would also make that easier. :)


Great feedback, thanks!


Really interesting idea. Could seriously see myself using this.


Great, what's your use case?


I didn't realize Dirk Diggler lived in Half Moon Bay.


Word, Reed and Dirk had to get out of dodge


did a kind of similar project a few weekends back: http://scrubmyaddress.com/ :)


Missing a comma in the first screenshot ;)


ack! fixed!


Ugh, I'm starting to get sick of Bootstrap. You've got a great idea and you remove value from it with bootstrap... How integral can your product be if you can't even give it a unique UI?


I disagree. Given what the app is about, I don't care about the UI. In fact, I'd rather they spend more time on the backend than on the website - at least to get started. Bootstrap is familiar, it's not bad - there's a difference.

Once the service is proven to work and they've got customers, I'm sure a UI refresh would happen. At this stage it's probably more important to worry about the things that matter most to the longevity of the project.


Agreed. Stuck between working on the product and working on UI I chose an admittedly weak UI (I'm not crazy about it but it works) so I could work on more important, for now, pieces of the product


I respectfully disagree with both of you. This shouldn't be a case of not having enough time, make time and get both parts to a decent level. Creating a bespoke splash page should be the easiest bit.

You need to take your developer hats off and put your salesmen hats on if you want to sell your product.


I respectfully disagree with you. :)

When I encounter a site with Bootstrap showing, I don't think "oh, this person doesn't care about the value of having a custom UI, or doesn't know how to sell their product" - I think "this person knows where their priorities lie, and has optimized their effort towards the things that provide the most value for their business". I'm sure when a custom UI becomes something more worth prioritizing, it will be moved up the list of things to do.


Hm, my impression is more along the lines of, "this probably was hacked together in a weekend and might be discarded in another." It's not a fair impression, but my snap judgment is that if somebody is invested in their product, they'd put a little time into differentiating its look.

However, the homepage for this product emphasizes its use as an API, so I am not very concerned about look and feel at all, and am much more interested in API docs. It looks like these are not ready yet.


I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year with service providers and vendors as lead developer/devops/sysadmin/etc at a tech consulting firm in Chicago.

I don't give a damn how the site looks; if you're solving a problem I need to get solved, I'm taking my Amex out to pay for it if it makes our work easier.


Good to hear! You in the market for a solution like EasyPost? I'm at jarrett@easypost.co and would love to chat!


I am! Will have an email off to your shortly!


I totally agree, in most areas. But I think in this area there's enough of a problem that I'm not having to sell it as much--yet. It's not like I'm trying to get someone to sign up for a location check-in gamified mobile app, it's something that would solve a real pain point. And for now, I just wanted to find out how bad people want that solution.

I call this my "pragmatic hat"




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