You’ve been running your remote business for a while now, but a sudden influx in customers and sales is starting to take a toll on you. Mail is piling up in the unused corner of your home office and you’re tired of driving to the bank every time you need to deposit a check. You need a more efficient way to manage your mail and packages, and a virtual mailbox sounds like the perfect fix.
With a virtual mailbox, you’ll get a mailing address at which to receive postal mail and packages, plus an extra layer of privacy protection and a professional business image for your remote company. Depending on the provider of your virtual mailbox, you may also be able to take advantage of extra services like check depositing and mail forwarding.
Signing up is easy – you could have your virtual mailbox up-and-running in 10 minutes or less if you wanted to. But before you take the next step, let’s dispel a few common misconceptions when it comes to virtual mailboxes.
Myth #1: A Mailing Address is All You’ll Get with a Virtual Mailbox
One of the biggest myths about a virtual mailbox is that it’s useful for providing you with a mailing address and not much else. Although virtual mailboxes are often sought out because remote business owners, like yourself, lack a physical office or storefront and are in need of a permanent mailing address, they have so much more to offer!
In addition to a permanent address that can be used for sending and receiving mail and packages, a virtual mailbox can offer you several other advantages. These benefits include enhanced privacy protection (no more listing your home address on paperwork and letting all your customers know where you live), a professional business image, and access to services like mail scanning, mail forwarding, and check depositing, which can save you precious time and help you get paid quicker. Never step foot in a bank again!
Here’s the low-down on what you’ll get with a virtual mailbox.
Exceptional Privacy Protection
A virtual mailbox helps conceal your address on documentation and eliminate the stress of having your customers know where you live. Did you know that your LLC paperwork will be made available to the public? This means that anyone who knows the name of your LLC will be able to find your address in less time than it takes to brush your teeth. Yikes!
Instead of listing your home address on public documents, which is one of the worst things you can do as a business owner, you can use your new commercial address (acquired through your virtual mailbox) as your dedicated business address. You’ll want to use your dedicated business address for anything that is business-related. This includes filling out business documentation to form your LLC, updating your website, and communicating with customers and clients.
Can you imagine what would happen if you used your home address for any of these purposes, let alone all of them? Even something as innocuous as a return address on a package can open up the floodgates to angry customers (or strangers) showing up at your front door unannounced.
Virtual mailboxes also give your remote business a more distinguished image, which can help you sell more products and grow your business.
A Professional Business Image
Love working from home, but don’t love that customers may think less of your business because you lack a formal office? A virtual mailbox can give your company a professional image at an affordable price point. This will help your business build trust and credibility, which is important when you’re just starting out and haven’t yet gained a loyal customer base.
Imagine running a law firm from your home office. You’ve got the necessary tools, experience, and knowledge at your disposal to take on any case, but because you work from home, a potential client may view you as less qualified than the fancy law firm down the road because they have a “real business address”. It's unfortunate, but it’s reality.
Now, let’s reverse the roles. If you were shopping online and found a pair of limited edition sneakers that you wanted to add to your collection, would you trust sending money to a home address? Probably not. This is why it’s essential to have a dedicated address that lends credibility to your business.
Signing up for a virtual mailbox can help you avoid these situations. You’ll be able to use your commercial mailing address for communications and marketing, helping to eliminate any preconceived notions about your professional services and business.
Access to Extra Services Like Check Depositing and Package Forwarding
Most virtual mailbox services offer additional features with their subscriptions. For example, a VirtualPostMail (VPM) virtual mailbox allows you to deposit your checks from the comfort of your home, helping you get paid faster while saving valuable time. You can also have confidential mail shredded while you’re on-the-go, which makes for one less thing to worry about while you’re running your business.
Planning a dream vacation to France with no set return date because you’re living that digital nomad life? You can even have your mail and packages forwarded to you, so you’ll never miss an important letter or package!
Myth #2: Virtual Mailboxes Are Not Secure
Another common misconception about virtual mailboxes is that they are not secure. Although individual security measures will vary from one virtual mailbox service to the next, virtual mailboxes are safer than physical mailboxes, this is critical to consider with mail theft on the rise.
In the United States, 1.7 million packages are stolen every day. That’s more than the total number of people living in Wyoming and Alaska combined! A virtual mailbox can help ease any fears of your valuable mail and packages being stolen.
Take a look at the safety features of a few of the most popular virtual mailbox companies below.
Traveling Mailbox takes great care to ensure that your mail and packages are safe. Here are a few of the security measures they’ve put into place when it comes to your mail:
- Mail is under 24/7 hour audio and video surveillance.
- Facilities have facial recognition cameras in key areas and an alarm system to alert of any intruders.
- All mail that is requested to be shredded is processed on site (including both sensitive and non-sensitive mail).
- The team is trained on HIPAA Compliance protocols to ensure any health-related information is kept confidential.
- They offer multi-factor authentication options via SMS Text or an Authenticator App of your choice.
Earth Class Mail
Earth Class Mail also makes safeguarding your mail one of their top priorities. Here’s what you can expect from them if you sign up for a virtual mailbox:
- Secure processing facilities that are monitored with the latest access technology.
- Pre-screening and background checks for all employees handling mail.
- All documents and postal mail items that are requested to be shredded are processed and destroyed on-site under strict supervision.
Anytime Mailbox’s easy-to-use web portal offers an extra layer of security so that customers’ sensitive information remains safe at all times. Other security features include:
- All images uploaded and viewed in a customer’s browser travels over a 2048-bit SSL connection.
- HTTPS secures data information between mail centers, end-users, web browsers, and smartphones.
At VPM, there’s nothing more important than ensuring the security of your mail and packages. When you sign up for a VPM virtual mailbox, you can expect the following in terms of security features:
- Data security and encryption – All sensitive information sent to and from VPM's servers is encrypted with bank level SSL encryption. Your password is encrypted with high level SHA-256 algorithm and never stored as cleartext. This means no one else knows your password – not even us.
- State-of-the-art physical security – Your mail and packages are protected by round-the-clock surveillance monitoring, which includes a security alarm and camera systems. Mail is stored in a secure location that can be accessed by authorized personnel who have passed a background check along with company credentials.
- Billing protection – All transactions related to your credit card are processed using secure encryption (the same type that banks use). Your billing information is transmitted, stored, and processed according to the PCI Data Security Standard.
- Mail protection – Your physical mail and data is stored at VPM’s secure facility and on confidential servers.
As you can see, each virtual mailbox service employs comprehensive security measures to safeguard your personal belongings and information. Regardless of which virtual mailbox service you decide to go with, you can rest assured that your mail and packages will be secure.
Myth #3: Your Virtual Mailbox Address Will Be a PO Box
At some point or another, you may have read that all virtual mailbox addresses are made up of PO boxes. This is false! Whether or not you are looking for a real physical address or a PO box will depend on who you select as your virtual mailbox service.
There are two virtual mailbox services that offer PO boxes:
- Earth Class Mail – offers a network of PO boxes and virtual offices
- PostScan Mail – offers a mixture of street address locations and PO boxes
If you feel that a PO box can meet the needs of your remote business, you might try one of these options. But if you’re looking for a real street address instead of a PO box, a VPM virtual mailbox may be a better fit.
Get a Real Street Address For Your Remote Business
You won’t get a PO box with any of VPM’s services. Instead, all of VPM’s virtual mailboxes come paired with a real street address that can be used for business and mailing purposes. This is better than using a PO box for several reasons:
- PO boxes are not permitted for LLC formation – this means you’ll need to obtain another address anyway (unless you use your home address, which is a big no-no).
- PO boxes come with mail limitations – you’ll be able to send and receive mail through USPS, not couriers like FedEx or UPS.
- PO boxes are inconvenient – you’ll have to travel to a physical location to check your mail on a daily or weekly basis.
In general, your business will benefit more from a virtual mailbox that provides you with a permanent street address.
Myth #4: All Virtual Mailboxes Are Created Equal
The biggest myth of all when it comes to virtual mailboxes is that each one is created equal. While all virtual mailboxes have some similarities, every virtual mailbox service is going to offer different features, technology, pricing, plans, etc.
Again, here is a comparison of the most popular virtual mailboxes for business owners.
When you sign up for a virtual mailbox with Traveling Mailbox, you’ll be able to access your mail from anywhere in the world via their app. You’ll also get to enjoy the convenience of using services like mail shredding and check depositing.
Pros of Traveling Mailbox
- Choose from over 25 U.S. based addresses.
- Deposit your checks remotely.
- View scanned mail as a PDF file.
- Gain access to unlimited cloud storage.
- Manage your mail on-the-go with their app, available for both Android and iPhone users.
- Take advantage of software integrations like Evernote, Bill.com, Google Drive, and Dropbox.
- Contact customer support on live chat, email, and phone.
Cons of Traveling Mailbox
- Since Traveling Mailbox does not have central processing centers, your mail is not processed on site. Instead, it is processed by third-party partners such as UPS Stores.
- You can only use their registered agent service at the North Carolina location.
IPostal1 partners with retail pack and ship stores and/or coworking spaces to acquire office building locations to use for your virtual mailbox. The company offers more than 900 real street addresses to choose from, both in the U.S. and internationally.
Pros of IPostal1
- Access your mail from their Android or iOS app.
- Use their convenient fax and phone forwarding services (available through their virtual office and coworking plans).
- Deposit checks remotely.
- Get free mail storage for 30 days.
- Save costs by using their consolidated shipping.
Cons of IPostal1
- Mail shredding costs extra.
- You’ll get 2GB of storage unless you upgrade.
- There are no registered agent services available.
With a PostScan Mail virtual mailbox, you’ll get to choose from a pool of over 100 different addresses at which you can receive postal mail and packages. If you prefer to hold onto your mail, you may find their unlimited cloud storage useful.
Pros of PostScan Mail
- Choose from over 150+ addresses.
- Store your mail for free for up to 30 days.
- Use their app as another way to manage your mail on your iPhone.
- Get unlimited cloud storage.
Cons of PostScan Mail
- Their app is not compatible with Android phones.
- There is an additional fee for mail shredding.
- No check depositing services.
- No registered agent services.
Earth Class Mail
An Earth Class Mail virtual mailbox will get you a mailing address (you can pick from over 80 available, some of which are PO boxes), and access to mail scanning, mail forwarding, and check depositing services.
Pros of Earth Class Mail
- Choose from over 80 addresses.
- Save time by searching your mail as PDFs.
- Utilize powerful integrations like Google Drive, Dropbox, and QuickBooks.
- Get unlimited cloud storage.
- Deposit checks remotely.
- Store your mail for 30 days for free.
Cons of Earth Class Mail
- Packages can only be stored for 10 days.
- No phone support.
- A $50 cancellation fee is required, regardless of your plan.
- You’ll be charged a setup fee for select plans.
- You can use their registered agent services in limited locations. They are available in New York, West Hollywood, Beaverton Oregon, Seattle, and San Francisco (these are premium addresses and will cost more).
VPM provides you with a real physical address attached to a commercial building, in addition to mail and package forwarding, mail shredding, and check depositing services. With a VPM virtual mailbox, you’ll also get to enjoy an extra layer of privacy protection, a professional business image, and an address that never moves, even if you do.
Pros of VirtualPostMail
- Requests are processed within one business day so you can address time-sensitive personal and business documents.
- Save $100 or more a year with VPM’s FREE registered agent services, available at all locations on select plans.
- View your mail online and download PDFs to find and maintain documents.
- Have important mail and packages forwarded to you while on-the-go.
- Get mail shredded and recycled for free.
- Get solution-oriented, responsive, and helpful customer support services.
- Enjoy unlimited cloud storage.
- Receive mail and packages from any courier, including USPS, UPS, and FedEx.
- Deposit checks online for speedy payments.
- Mail and packages can be held for up to 60 days free of charge.
- No setup fees.
- No cancellation fees.
Cons of VirtualPostMail
- No mobile app.
- Limited selection of locations.
- No phone or fax services available at this time.
So, there you have it. Not all virtual mailboxes are created equal. Feeling overwhelmed with all of this information? Learn why a VPM virtual mailbox may be the best choice for you and your remote business.
In summary, you learned that a virtual mailbox is good for far more than just a mailing address; you’ll also be able to protect your privacy and build credibility with it. Many virtual mailboxes come with safety features like state-of-the-art security and data encryption, so you can rest assured that your mail and packages are in the very best of hands.
While some virtual mailboxes are PO boxes, the majority of them are not (you can find a list of companies that offer them in myth#3). Most important, you discovered that not all virtual mailboxes are the same. Each virtual mailbox is going to provide a unique set of features and overall experience, so it’s up to you to decide which one will work best for your business.