If you sell secondhand clothing or accessories on Instagram and you're located in the US, chances are that you've used Pirate Ship to purchase shipping labels.
What is Pirate Ship?
Pirate Ship is a shipping website that allows small businesses to buy USPS shipping labels at heavy discounts through USPS Commercial Pricing. Pirate Ship also offers Priority Mail Cubic, a 'secret' shipping tier that can yield heavy discounts on small but heavy packages (like sneakers, jackets, etc).
Pirate Ship is free to use, with no hidden fees or monthly costs. They are able to offer their service for free through a direct partnership with USPS that gives them a percentage of revenue on each shipping label purchased through them.
Thryft vs. Pirate Ship: A Comparison
It's important to note that Pirate Ship and Thryft are fundamentally different products. Pirate Ship is a standalone shipping website, while Thryft is a checkout, shipping & website builder platform that offers Instagram sellers everything they need to run and grow their business.
Thryft offers most of Pirate Ship's benefits (and more) through its shipping features, which are available for free to any seller who creates a website with Thryft. As an all-in-one platform, Thryft is obviously a lot more powerful in terms of overall functionality, but for the sake of this article we will only be comparing Thryft's shipping platform with Pirate Ship.
Similarities between Pirate Ship and Thryft
USPS Commercial Pricing: Like Pirate Ship, Thryft allows you to buy USPS labels at Commercial Pricing rates (the lowest rates anywhere).
Priority Mail Cubic: Thryft also offers the 'secret', heavily-discounted Priority Mail Cubic tier. This means that on any package shipped from the US, Thryft will give you the exact same discounted rates as Pirate Ship.
No Fees: Both Thryft and Pirate Ship's shipping features are free to use with no hidden fees or monthly costs. Pirate Ship often claims that they are 'the only shipping software that gives you the cheapest rates for USPS-approved postage with no fees'. This is not the case, as Thryft (and some shipping APIs, like EasyPost) also gives you the same 'cheapest' rates with no additional fees.
User-Friendly & Powerful: Pirate Ship and Thryft both have relatively intuitive, user-friendly interfaces, and both offer a full suite of functionality and customization including international shipping, different label sizes, and different package types.
For Small Businesses: Like Pirate Ship, Thryft is targeted towards small businesses (who sell through Instagram).
Differences between Pirate Ship and Thryft
Entering Addresses: With Thryft, you don't need to enter your customers' addresses and information manually, because they fill this out on your website's checkout page and can edit it post-purchase as well. With Pirate Ship, you will need to manually obtain each customer's shipping information and enter it into their interface to create a single label.
Automatic Tracking Info: Thryft automatically sends customers (and you) tracking information and updates via email (and soon text) as soon as they are available: for example when their order is out for delivery, delivered, etc. Pirate Ship also offers this feature, but you would need to collect your customer's email address and manually enter it when you create your label.
Batch Shipping/Scan Form: Thryft allows you to ship your orders in batches and generate/print a single PDF containing all your shipping labels from a given batch — as well as a scan form. With Pirate Ship, you would need integrate with an existing e-commerce site's backend (e.g. Shopify) to batch ship.
Dynamic Shipping: With Thryft, you can (optionally) create products with 'dynamic shipping', which allows you to charge your customers — at checkout — the exact cost of your shipping label for their order, as opposed to an estimated cost. This is obviously not possible with Pirate Ship, unless you somehow acquire your customer's shipping info pre-purchase, manually enter it into Pirate Ship to calculate label price and then give your customer the quote to pay.
Package Dimensions: Pirate Ship requires you to enter package dimensions on any 'custom box/parcel' package when generating a label. This is important for packages >1 pound because Priority Mail Cubic pricing is based on your package's dimensions; however for packages <1 pound this is an unnecessary step because USPS First Class (the cheapest rate for packages <1 pound) is priced solely based on packages' weight, not dimensions. With Thryft, you're only asked need to enter package dimensions on packages shipped from the US that are >1 pound in weight.
Your Payment Information: To purchase labels on Pirate Ship, you need to enter your credit card information. With Thryft, you never need to do this, because your shipping label costs are simply subtracted from your payout for a given order. For example, if you were to make $19 from an order but purchased a shipping label through Thryft for $4, you would just collect a final payout of $15.
Canadian Businesses: Pirate Ship only offers USPS rates, while Thryft offers Canadian sellers the ability to ship through Canada Post.
Business Model: Thryft does not make any revenue through its shipping service — it offers it solely to ensure a smooth, single-platform experience for sellers from the moment they list an item to the moment it is delivered. Meanwhile, Pirate Ship relies solely on its partnership with USPS to make revenue. Since they have received no outside investment, they must operate profitably on this partnership alone, and run the risk of being forced to charge additional fees in case their partnership margins get squeezed.
Overall, just in terms of shipping, Thryft is easier to use than Pirate Ship while providing the exact same discounts on all USPS services. To ship orders through Thryft, all you need to do is enter your packages' weights (and occasionally dimensions) & everything else — payment, sending tracking, batching, etc. — is taken care of automatically, whereas with Pirate Ship you will need to manually collect and enter all your customers' information to ship a single package (and you will need to repeat this for almost every package you ship).
In general, if you sell more than a few items a week through Instagram and find yourself manually collecting payments, repeatedly entering addresses into Pirate Ship and sending tracking over DMs, it may be time to switch to a solution like Thryft that simplifies the 5-6 step process of every sale into a single step — and gives you superpowers as a seller.