POSTAL SOFTWARE AND SERVICES YOU NEED TO KNOW PAGE 18 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2018 MailingSystemsTechnology.com
IS YOUR MAIL CENTER HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
INSOURCING OR OUTSOURCING:
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU? THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU. PAGE 22
HOW WILL SEAMLESS ACCEPTANCE
AND INFORMED VISIBILITY IMPROVE YOUR TRANSPARENCY? PAGE 26
IS YOUR BUDGET SUFFERING FROM LOST POSTAGE FUNDS? HEREâ€™S HOW TO RECOVER THEM. PAGE 28
TABLE OF CONTENTS
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2018 | VOLUME 31 ISSUE 1
DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note
A New Year, a New Look By Amanda Armendariz
06 Real-Life Management Sharpen the Saw! By Wes Friesen
08 Connecting Point
Postal Changes Happening in 2018: How Could They Affect Your Company? By Chris Lien
09 Direct Mail Evolution
Innovative Technology for the Next Generation By Brad Kugler
10 The Trenches
Do It Now! A Simple Way to Ensure Content Marketing Success
By Mike Porter
12 Postal Affairs
FEATURES 16 Canadian Mail Highlights: What Organizations Should Know as They Mail Across the Border
While Canada’s postal system is similar in many ways to that of the US, there are still significant differences to take into account. By Kristi Kanitz
18 What Is the Quality of Your Current Postal Software & Services? A look at some of the leading solutions being provided to the industry today.
22 Insourcing or Outsourcing: Which Is Right for Your Operation?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question; here’s
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
2018 Changes to Postage Payment
what to ask yourself when weighing the options. By Thom Roylance
26 Seamless Acceptance + Informed Visibility = Improved Tracking and Transparency
As you strive to evaluate the effectiveness of your multichannel campaigns, Seamless Acceptance and Informed Visibility are two tools that will help you greatly.
By Bob Schimek
13 Software Byte
Preparing for Move Update Changes By Jeff Peoples
14 Inkjet Info
The High-Speed Inkjet Opportunity By Lisa Cross
APPLICATION ARTICLES/ CASE STUDIES
By Kurt Ruppel and Bob Rosser
28 The Ultimate Guide to Recovering Lost Postage
If lost postage is costing you money (and it is very likely that it is), here are the steps you can take to stem the tide. By Adam Lewenberg
21 Is Address Quality Really Important Anymore? Firstlogic Solutions
25 Rooftop Geocoding Case Study — PostMark Inc. BCC Software
EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 31, ISSUE 1 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Director Allison Lloyd email@example.com Editorial interns Catherine Sbeglia Kristyn Sommers Contributing Writers Lisa Cross, Wes Friesen, Kristi Kanitz, Brad Kugler, Adam Lewenberg, Chris Lien, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Bob Rosser, Thom Roylance, Kurt Ruppel, Bob Schimek Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 email@example.com Design Kelli Cooke RB Publishing Inc. PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Call 608.241.8777 Fax 608.241.8666 E-mail email@example.com Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 www.ReprintPros.com All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2018 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 31 Issue 1] is published six times per year, (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc.,PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098
A NEW YEAR, A NEW LOOK BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ
s you’re flipping through the pages of this latest issue, you may notice we look a little bit different — a little more streamlined, a little more modern. One of our goals for 2018 was to create a fresh, new look while still acting as the ultimate industry resource for mailers. No small task, right? But when you think about it, isn’t that what we’re all doing in the mail industry, every single day? The actual communication method of mail has been around for a long, long time. And yes, those of us in the industry are constantly bombarded with news reports that mail volumes and revenue are declining (and, sadly, these reports are indeed based in fact). However, just because volumes are down and mail is an “older” method of communication doesn’t mean it’s no longer relevant. It still holds tremendous value as a communication vehicle if mailers are willing to update their mail to change with the times. In fact, in this digital age, many consumers are so desensitized to electronic methods of communication that mail stands out as a breath of fresh air. The difference from years past, how-
ever, is that organizations must make sure there is a digital component to their hardcopy communication pieces. As I talk with mailers in the industry, I feel like most are succeeding at this task. Yes, it can be an uphill battle, especially when you have those who don’t understand the value that mail still brings to the table. But there are so many industry professionals who embrace the opportunities that the digital age brings, especially when combined with more traditional methods of communication. It’s not an either/or phenomenon; these two channels can work together to create the ultimate communication vehicle. So update your look, change with the times — but remember, at its core, mail is what works. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
REAL-LIFE MANAGEMENT Manage stress. The first three items on this list all help us manage stress, but it is important enough to have its own place on the list. My column in the July/ August 2017 issue of Mailing Systems Technology discusses in detail 10 ways to manage stress.
SHARPEN THE SAW! BY WES FRIESEN
o help you — and your team — achieve full potential, we must proactively and continually “sharpen the saw.” The concept of sharpening our saw is the pinnacle habit of Stephen Covey’s timeless classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Sharpening the saw means we have optimum performance by having a balanced program for continuous self-renewal in the four areas of our life: Body (physical), mind (mental), heart (social/emotional), and soul (spiritual). By taking time to continuously renew ourselves in these four dimensions, we will be much more effective and successful when engaging in life’s tasks and pursuits — including leading our teams to success. Abraham Lincoln illustrated this truth by saying, “If I had only two hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first hour sharpening my axe.” The key is to embrace the concepts of continuous learning and improvement. We have all experienced success in our lives, but future growth and success is contingent on avoiding complacency and being intentional about growing and developing. To begin this process, let’s explore ideas that can help us continually renew ourselves in each of these four important dimensions. Body (Physical) The following basics for good physical health are well known — but not consistently practiced. Being physically healthy
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
improves the quality and expected quantity of our lives. When we are physically healthy, we are happier, have more energy, are more productive, and are stronger mentally (“the body feeds the mind”). Here are four proven keys to being physically healthy: Eat healthy. We can benefit from reducing fat, sugar, refined flour, and salt intake while increasing whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating healthier isn’t all bad. In fact, I’ve heard that dark chocolate is good for us! And for coffee drinkers, recent studies show that drinking coffee also has health benefits! Exercise regularly. Exercise revs our body’s production of feel-good endorphins, can help regulate our sleep, lowers the symptoms associated with mild depression, boosts our energy, and helps us remain calmer and more focused, all of which can go a long way toward good health and stress management. For me, I enjoy walks with my wife and playing tennis with friends, and I always feel physically and mentally energized and less stressed afterwards. Get enough sleep and rest. Experts say that most adults need at least seven hours of sleep to function optimally. It may be tempting to scrimp on sleep to get more work done, but there is a price to pay if we do. Numerous studies have found a link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Mind (Mental) Exercising our mind (brain) is one important key to good mental health. Here are four of the important ways we can exercise and develop our minds: Life-long learning. Henry Ford challenges us when he said, “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” As a long-time university teacher, I believe in the value of formal education. Whether it’s pursuing a degree or taking a class just to learn more, college and university classes are worthwhile. But informal learning is also valuable, and nowadays, there are numerous opportunities to learn from webinars, seminars, online classes, etc. We can also learn by getting involved with conferences like National Postal Forum; professional organizations like postal customer councils (PCCs), Mail Systems Management Association (MSMA), and the National Association of College and University Mail Services (NACUMS); and trade journals like Mailing Systems Technology. I am inspired by the example of Pablo Casals, who bore the nickname “Mr. Cellist.” A young reporter once asked, “Mr. Casals, you are ninety-five and the greatest cellist who ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Pablo smiled and said, “Because I think I’m making progress.” Reading.The simplest and most straightforward way to expand your mind and keep your brain sharp is by reading. Joseph Addison was right when he said, “Reading is to the mind is what exercise is to the body.” We especially grow and develop when we read books and other materials that force us to think and engage our minds. Studies have shown that an enthusiasm for reading is a common characteristic of successful leaders and individuals. It’s been said that the most ignorant among us decided they know everything they need to know, while the wisest among us decided they could never know enough. Writing. Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping
a journal of our thoughts, experiences, and learnings promotes mental clarity. Writing letters, blogs, articles, and the like in which we go beyond the shallow and superficial develops our abilities to think clearly, organize our thoughts, and to communicate effectively. Puzzles and other mental activities. A study of American nuns and retired priests found that those who pursued various kinds of cognitive activity — including doing puzzles — were 47% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who undertook such activities infrequently. So, if you want to exercise and keep your brain sharp, take out your Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles and start solving them! Challenging games like Words with Friends or Scrabble are also helpful. Heart (Social/Emotional) We develop and grow our social and emotional dimensions primarily by developing meaningful relationships with others. Harvard has been conducting a nearly 80-year monumental study on the key to happiness and health. Is it fame? Is it wealth? Is it high achievement? According to the study, it is none of these things; rather, the key to long-term happiness and health is having close, loving relationships! So, how do we develop these relationships? Here are some ideas: Build emotional bank accounts. We have emotional bank accounts with people in our lives. We can build large positive balances over time by making “deposits” into these accounts, or we can end up with negative balances by making “withdrawals.” We make deposits by our positive actions and words — including writing letters and notes, phone calls, texts, social media messages, small gifts, and favors. We make withdrawals by our negative actions and words. Just as we like to keep our financial bank accounts positive, we should strive to keep our emotional bank accounts positive as well. Practice the magical 5:1 ratio. The Magical 5:1 ratio means we should have at least five positive statements or interactions with people for every one negative/critical statement or interaction. Multiple independent studies have landed on the importance of this ratio, including the landmark work by Dr. John Gottman.
Serve others. N. Eldon Tanner has said that “service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” Serving others makes deposits into emotional bank accounts, and is a win-win for us that serve and the recipients of our service. Laugh and have fun, and shed tears when appropriate. Laughter and having fun is good for our physical and mental health — and when done with others help to build better relationships. Spending enjoyable time with others eating meals, playing games, and attending fun events all help build personal connections. There are also times when we can empathize and even shed tears when others are going through tough times.
service. I find that being actively involved with a faith community (my local church) is valuable to my spiritual development as I worship, love, serve, learn, encourage, and grow alongside others on the same pathway. I would like to close with the following inspiring quote by Dr. Covey: “This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life — investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have to with which to deal with life and to contribute. We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.”
Soul (Spiritual) Covey described the spiritual dimension as “your core, your center, your commitment to your value system.” He added that for him, daily prayerful meditation on the scriptures was important because they represent his value system. I resonate with this. However, there are several other ways to feed our souls. Examples include nature, music, art, great literature, and
Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams. He is also an accomplished university instructor and speaker and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management, and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! Powerful Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you. Wes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 971.806.0812.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
POSTAL CHANGES HAPPENING IN JANUARY: HOW COULD THEY AFFECT YOUR COMPANY? BY CHRIS LIEN
is bringing many changes in the postal industry. But with change comes uncertainty. So, let’s take a look at these changes and what they may mean for your company.
New Rates and Rule Changes While Uncertainty Continues In October of 2017, the USPS announced new rates and rule changes that will be in effect beginning January 21, 2018. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), who published their 10-year review in 2017 as well, has approved these prices. As has been discussed in the previous months, the USPS Board of Governors still has nine vacancies, and currently there are three presidential nominees. The Senate only needs to approve one nominee for decisions, such as promotions, to be put into effect. Uncertainty in business is not favorable, so how can your company ensure continued success? It’s important that companies, especially ones that have relied on USPS promotions in the past for cost savings, plan on not being able to 8
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take advantage of this by reviewing their current workflow and adjusting or reallocating spending.
The Growing Cost of Bad Data The industry is not oblivious to the cost of bad data. It can hinder campaigns, waste resources, and overall negatively affect the industry, which is why address quality is of the upmost importance as we embrace postal changes and head into 2018. While the issue of Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) mail has improved over the years, it still poses financial ramifications to the industry. In fact, the industry overall is still paying over $1 billion in excess postage related to the six billion pieces of UAA mail the USPS deals with annually. All members of the industry need to re-evaluate address quality issues to further reduce UAA mail. So, what changes are on the horizon to further combat this issue? This coming year will be spent preparing for a new coding accuracy support system (CASS) cycle that will be implemented in 2019. These changes are a long time
coming, and the industry should be ready for shifts that will work to improve data overall.
Continuing to Make Mail Irresistible It’s official that Informed Visibility is replacing IMB Tracing. This change will improve visibility into the mail stream and provide mailers with more data, which has been a major factor to the growing effectiveness of direct mail. Multi-channel marketing has infiltrated the industry, and this has been extremely positive for direct mail’s steady influence. With the realization that a multi-faceted campaign will drive the best results, marketers have been working towards incorporating more than one medium, and direct mail is the foundation. So, how is your business capitalizing on this? The USPS offers easy ways and special promotions for utilizing multi-channel communications through Informed Delivery, including execution through Mail.dat, so you can easily get your campaigns up and running.
What’s on the Horizon? Automation is not slowing down. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2019, 79% of mail centers will be automated. This statistic may be daunting to some, but it shouldn’t be. Automation opens the door to improving your efficiency and gives you the ability to take on more jobs. To begin the steps to implement automation into your business, or to enhance your current system, all mail service providers (MSPs) need to take a hard look at operations by mapping out your current workflow. It’s essential to keep up with automation so that you don’t fall behind. ¾ Chris Lien is the president of BCC Software and has been active in the mailing industry for over 20 years. During that time, he authored several software solutions utilizing Mail.dat for electronic auditing, distribution and logistics planning, palletization, and electronic postage payment. He has been heavily involved in industry associations such as the Association for Postal Commerce, EPICOMM, Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, and Idealliance.
DIRECT MAIL EVOLUTION
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION BY BRAD KUGLER
orn after 1995, Generation Z will account for about 40% of all consumers by 2020. The challenge? A Gen-Zer’s attention is difficult to obtain as an advertiser. They’re known for using up to five devices at the same time (phone, tablet, computer, TV, and other internet-connected devices, such as a car or wearable gadgets like a smart watch). Considering most of them have never been advertised to through their physical mailboxes, this provides a great opportunity to the print industry. A physical piece of marketing will be a real attention grabber in their world. To take full advantage of this opportunity, we must understand their motives and behavior. The design of the mailing piece is crucial. When Gen-Zers interact with a marketing piece, it is because of one principal motivator. They are looking at ways that a product or service will improve the quality of their lives. Your marketing piece’s main focus should answer their first question immediately: “What is in it for me?” Designing the
piece around the answer to this question is the key to success with Generation Z in mind. Gen-Zers are digital natives. They were born into a world where all the information they need is just a few clicks away. If a mailing piece is trying to be something that it’s not, a Gen-Zer will perceive it right away. Pretending to provide value will get a brand nowhere. A Gen-Zer desires to feel identified and engaged with a company. Gen-Zers want to form a relationship with the brands that they consume. Think about approaching your mailing pieces not as a sales pitch, but more like a friendly conversation. With so much information available to them, your goal as a marketer is to stand out from such a crowded space. The key here is to be present in several channels, so that your message becomes memorable. Giving them a mailing piece is effective, but imagine the power of the same marketing message when it delivers online simultaneously. Being present in both offline and online channels increases impressions dramatically.
We hear the phrase “direct mail doesn’t work anymore” over and over again. The reality is that it has always worked, and it will continue to. It may perhaps work even better with this new generation who was never bombarded by it like the previous generations were when it was the only method used for marketing. Yet, one thing has changed, and that’s the way that people respond to direct mail marketing. Gen-Zers usually do research online before purchasing a product. The first thing they’ll do is visit a brand’s website, followed by social media and review sites. Remember: Gen-Zers are usually dividing their attention between five screens at the time. Even if they’re interested in what they see on your website, it’s likely they will exit the site without taking action. Studies show that only two percent of first-time visitors will convert. Your job as a marketer is to make sure that you’re bringing them back. This might sound difficult, but it’s achievable with the use of retargeting. Reminding them of their interest by being present in their online experience is the best way to close a sale. Retargeting allows a brand to be present, not only in the Google Display Network but also on social media newsfeeds. Direct mail marketing combined with the power of online marketing is beyond persuasive for Gen-Zers. Creating an effective marketing campaign for your clients targeting Gen Z doesn’t have to be complicated. Focus on their behavior, personalities, and online experience, and you’re on your way to a high-converting marketing campaign. ¾ Brad Kugler is the CEO of DirectMail2.0, a fully integrated marketing solution for the clients of printers/mailers that combines the proven success of direct mail with in-demand features like online advertising and automated campaign tracking. Visit www.dm20.com or call 800.956.4129 for more information. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
DO IT NOW! A SIMPLE WAY TO ENSURE CONTENT MARKETING SUCCESS BY MIKE PORTER
ou need a plan. Many organizations have identified the value of published content to achieve brand awareness and nurture leads, but they initiate their vision with haphazard and poorly planned efforts that don’t pay off. A scattered approach produces unsatisfactory results, which leads to abandoned publishing efforts. I’ve seen this happen time after time. Companies publish one or two articles a year, or send an occasional email blast. There is no consistency, and they do not reach enough of their audience to make an impact. Optimistic expectations about content marketing aren’t fulfilled, and so companies lose interest in further content generation. So, does your company have a content marketing plan for this year? Consistent Reminders and Strategic Thinking I insist all my clients have a plan. We agree on objectives, audiences, and target publication dates in advance. Helping clients do this important work up front benefits both of us. Clients take a more strategic approach to their content marketing programs, and I can make helpful suggestions about topics 10
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and formats while gathering all the information necessary to produce effective custom content. B2B customers get serious about purchasing products and services because of a change in their own businesses. Regularly reminding prospects about the value of your company’s products and expertise is necessary to ensure they reach out and connect with you when a triggering event occurs. Pre-planned publication schedules prevent gaps that open doors for competitors. Content plans also force companies to analyze their strategies and answer some important questions: } What do you want prospects to do after reading an article or blog post? } How do those actions align with your content marketing goals? } Does your plan include content for all your audiences? } How will you drive prospects to your website content? } Have you included material aimed at later-stage buyers? } How will you repurpose content, and what modifications will be necessary? } Is the branding and style consistent across your content library?
It’s important to understand that content marketing does not drive sales directly. You should not expect to correlate a particular article with increased sales volume. It is the cumulative effect of your branded content that produces results. That is why releasing content according to an organized schedule works best in the long run. From an ROI perspective, content marketing costs are relatively low, and the potential return is great. Combined with traditional marketing activities, content marketing strengthens the brand and improves customer confidence. Informational content has a long shelf life and is versatile. Today’s investment in a customer case study, for instance, can serve you for two or three years. You might extend the impact of blog posts by re-packaging them as an eBook. Online magazine articles show up in search results for years after publication. Conversely, one-time email blasts have virtually no staying power. Begin Simply, but Get Started I have worked with clients who want to create content marketing strategies, but never seem to get started. There was always something else that needed doing first — new product introductions, website re-design, hiring a new sales manager, upgrading the CRM system, cleaning up the contact database, and so on. The lists were endless, and the clients never found time to implement meaningful content marketing programs. Perfection is a death sentence for content marketing strategies. Start creating and publishing as soon as possible. You can adjust the elements later. While you are wasting time getting all your ducks in a row, competitors may establish themselves as the primary source for industry information. Being first, even if imperfect, is an advantage. You can create a simple 12-month content plan listing details such as your audiences, topic areas, and publication dates in just a few hours using tools no fancier than a spreadsheet. A rough plan is enough to get started. You can always go back and refine later. In the meantime, a simple content plan gets you into the game. Tips to Get You Started As you develop a content plan for your
organization, here are a few items to consider: Cover All Buying Stages Prospects require different content depending on where they are in the buying process. In the early stages, raising awareness and building a reputation is most important. After that, potential customers are looking for reasons to do business with you. Your content must demonstrate how your products solve the problems your audience is facing. In the final stages before making a purchase decision, future customers will compare vendors. Items such as case studies and white papers address those needs. Encourage Next Steps You never know when something may happen that turns prospects into serious buyers. Include a clear call to action in your communications. Give prospects
the option to move forward by downloading in-depth material or scheduling a demo. Lead prospects through the steps future customers normally complete before they buy from you. Put Existing Content to Work One way to get a head start on content generation is raiding existing material. You may need to make minor revisions, but editing is usually quicker than starting from scratch. Elements of a content marketing campaign are high in informational value. You may need to re-work marketing material to tone down the sales pitches.
tent in multiple places or make minor modifications to repurpose an article for a particular audience. All companies in the customer communications industry, regardless of their size or their budget, can take advantage of the benefits that content marketing provides. This strategy is an equalizer that helps vendors with great products but scarce resources compete with larger contenders. Improve your chances for success by dedicating time to create a content plan. A small investment in time now will help you get started and keep your strategy on track all year.
Get Your Content Found Single channel publication limits your reach. You cannot publish content to your website or blog and wait for the leads to roll in. There are many outlets for original informational content. Use them. Often you can use the same con-
Mike Porter helps companies in the document industry create and execute content marketing strategies. This article is based on the eBook “Content Marketing – What’s the Big Deal?” Download the complete eBook for free at www. pmccontentservices.com/ebook or contact Mike directly at email@example.com.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
2018 CHANGES TO POSTAGE PAYMENT BY BOB SCHIMEK
ith 2018 already here, it is important to spend some time planning and preparing for changes that will impact your business in the new year. One of these changes will be the Postal Serviceâ€™s rollout of its new Enterprise Payment System (EPS). As with many of the new Postal Service systems, there will be several new acronyms that the mailing industry will need to become familiar with as EPS is formally rolled out. EPS will require every business mailer to have an Enterprise Payment Account (EPA). If your business has PO Boxes, you may have already had some exposure to the first phase of EPS, which is being referred to as EPOBOL (Electronic PO Boxes Online). EPOBOL allows mailers to renew, open, and close their PO Boxes online. EPOBOL is currently available for use, and the Postal Service is encouraging all business mailers with PO Boxes to begin using it. The bigger EPS change for business mailers will be coming later in 2018. The Postal Service is currently pilot test-
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
ing expanded payment capabilities for domestic, commercial, and international mail products and services with some mailers. These will include postage statement processing for all bulk mailings currently being submitted to PostalOne! using Mail.dat, Mail.xml, or the Postage Statement Wizard. It will also support BMEU (Bulk Mail Entry Unit) hard copy postage statements and other services such as Address Change Service (ACS). There are several steps involved to enroll, such as receiving an invitation code and creating and configuring your EPA, so it would be a good idea to figure out early in the process who in your company will be taking the lead in getting all of this set up. There are many details that will likely require collaboration and testing with the financial side of your business to ensure user roles have been appropriately assigned. Each mailer or mail service provider will be migrated to a single EPA in which all postal transactions will occur. This will greatly simplify the postage payment process for mailers. EPA will allow mailers
the ability to set up a trust account or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit. The trust account allows mailers to directly deposit funds into their Postal Service account for mailing transactions. ACH debit allows the Postal Service to withdraw payment transactions directly from mailer bank accounts. Once EPS, has been fully tested, the Postal Service will require all mailers to migrate to EPS, and the current CAPS will be officially discontinued. The timeframe and length of the transition window has not yet been announced. However, you can expect the official start of the transition to be announced sometime in 2018, and the transition window could be fairly short. The migration from CAPS to EPS does not have to be done all at once. The transition can be done a single permit or CAPS account at a time. Mailers with multiple CAPS accounts and/or permits will be able to mix the use of both CAPS and EPS for postal transactions as they transition, but eventually they will all be connected to their single EPA. Once mailers have their new EPA number, they can start using it in the electronic documentation that is sent to PostalOne!. If anyone is interested in helping with the pilot testing of all the various mailing transaction scenarios, they are encouraged to contact the Postal Service at PaymentModernizationMigrationTeam@usps.gov. Ultimately, there is going to be a number of new benefits that will come with the migration to EPS. These include being able to make deposits at any retail location, and future enhancements will include being able to make deposits via electronic check capture. To maximize your benefits, it is highly encouraged to begin planning the changes to your business now. For additional information on the details involved in the migration, use the Postal Service PostalPro site to access the Payment Modernization Overview document. Âž Bob Schimek is Senior Director of Postal Affairs at Quadient. He is a member of PostCom, Idealliance, and the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PREPARING FOR MOVE UPDATE CHANGES BY JEFF PEOPLES
he United States Postal Service (USPS) is implementing Move Update price and classification changes, effective in March 2018. The Move Update postage assessment for non-compliance will increase from $0.07 to $0.08 per piece, but the Move Update verification method will also be changing. What exactly does this mean for your mailing operation? Details of the Change The existing Move Update compliance rules require mailers of commercial FirstClass Mail and USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats to update addresses to reflect Change of Address (COA) orders as a basic eligibility requirement for automation and presort rates. Mailers may use any USPS-approved method to meet this requirement, and the addresses must be updated within 95 days preceding the mailing date. Currently, the USPS uses Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument (MERLIN) equipment to verify the Move Update compliance. This verification occurs prior to mail acceptance on a sample-based process. If the mailing selected for verification contains COA errors above the error threshold of 30%, then the Move Update charge of $0.07 is
applied to the percentage of pieces in the entire mailing above 30%. The new Move Update verification method will change the MERLIN verification method to the new Address Quality Census Assessment and Measurement Process. This process will utilize the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to verify the address quality of mail submitted by electronic documentation (eDoc) after it has entered the mailstream. This process utilizes existing technology and allows for ALL eligible pieces to be verified, not just a sampling as with the current MERLIN process. Using the new method, address quality will be evaluated on a calendar month basis by calculating the ratio of mail pieces submitted in the calendar month with COA errors, to all qualifying mail pieces submitted by a mailer in that calendar month. If this ratio is greater than the new error threshold of 0.5% of all eligible pieces, the new Move Update charge of $0.08 will be applied to the number of mail pieces with COA errors that exceed the threshold. Impacts on Mailing Operations Hopefully, your mailings (or your customersâ€™ mailings) are already going through address hygiene processes. This includes processes such as address standardiza-
tion, CASS coding, and Move Updates. If you are not performing these processes routinely, or if you are not certain if the mailing lists are up-to-date, you should be putting processes into place now to ensure that this is done. The biggest impact of this upcoming change is that now all addresses in your mailings will be subject to Move Update verification, not just the few random samplings which may have occurred in the past using the MERLIN method. While this affects both letter and flat-size mailings, flatsize mailers may see more of an impact, as processing flat-size pieces on MERLIN equipment is tedious and prone to equipment jams and failures. For this reason, flat-size mailings may not have experienced as many verifications as letter-size mailings. Regardless of processing category, the universe of verified pieces using the MERLIN verification method is very small as compared to the total mailing. Bottom line: Mail list owners and their mail service providers (MSPs) should be working to ensure that address hygiene processes are being diligently applied so mailings are submitted with up-todate addresses. This proactive approach will help reduce the potential for Move Update validation assessments. Resources The Mailer Scorecard is a key resource, as it provides mailers with information about COA errors. Mailers should be monitoring this data and working on updating their addresses. All COA errors, both above and below the threshold, are available to mailers on the Mailer Scorecard. This data is updated each day with the census results from the previous 24 hours. Piece level error information is available to mailers upon request. Use these resources to your advantage and review your address management processes today. Âž Jeff Peoples is President, Founder, and CEO of Window Book. With over 20+ years of innovative solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, he has done presentations at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum, and other industry and direct marketing events.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
if you invite them. Successful providers back their investment in inkjet with a solid business plan that carefully analyzed the business opportunity and identified ample volume to justify the investment before they purchased inkjet equipment.
THE HIGH-SPEED INKJET OPPORTUNITY BY LISA CROSS
igh-speed inkjet technology is transforming color printing and creating many opportunities for direct and transactional mail. Inkjet offers all the advantages of digital printing — personalization, electronic collation, just-in-time manufacturing, workflow automation, fast speeds, and high productivity — as well as the ability to produce higher-volume short run and personalized applications affordably. Inkjet Volume Growing Each year, InfoTrends forecasts growth in digital pages. Global digital production color volumes totaled about 454 billion impressions in 2016. InfoTrends expects them to approach 895 billion in 2020, with inkjet representing 60% of total digital color volume. The dramatic growth that inkjet is enjoying is the result of new cut-sheet inkjet technologies, continued innovations in roll-fed technology, new applications, a drive for more customized communications, and the cost-effective migration of offset volume to digital color based on significant improvements in speed, substrates, quality, and cost. The core value of production inkjet technology is that it enables print applications that can’t be produced with other
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technologies, like producing more affordable high-value personalization, shorter runs, and versioning. High-speed inkjet systems are producing high volumes for transaction and direct mail not because they are cheaper than offset, but because they can do something that offset cannot do. High-speed inkjet is delivering value to marketers, enterprises, and service providers alike. It offers affordable digital color and associated improvements in operational costs, response rates, and time to market. If you haven’t yet explored the inkjet opportunity, now might be the time! A Solid Business Model Required The analysts at Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends routinely interview inkjet users to identify the critical strategies that they are following to accelerate the path to profitability. Organizations that invested in inkjet provide their perspective on digital inkjet technology in terms of where it is now, where it’s going, how it will likely impact the market of the future, and how they are making it profitable for their organizations. A key message from successful inkjet users is that production inkjet is not a “field of dreams,” where they will come
Areas of opportunity included: } Displacing short-run web offset work } Replacement of offset pre-print and monochrome digital imprinting } Displacement of cut-sheet black & white and color equipment } Migration of longer run cut-sheet variable data work to inkjet } Displacement of roll-fed black & white toner devices } New application opportunities (e.g., testing materials for nursing programs, election ballots, revitalized non-profit direct mail campaigns, new services for bill/statement offerings) In addition, companies that have implemented inkjet in their operations frequently identified cost savings from the following areas: } Single-step printing versus laser printing on preprinted offset shells } No plate changes } Reduced labor } No pre-printed shells/ inventory } Waste reduction } A wide variety of materials (e.g., cards, letters, labels) } Lower postal costs } Moving to a completely digital workflow
Global digital production color volumes totaled about 454 billion impressions in 2016. Print will continue to play a major role in the communications mix and its value hasn’t diminished in the digital age — it has simply changed. The commercializa-
tion and implementation of inkjet printing is enabling the production of affordable fullcolor work and personalization with faster turnaround times. Print continues to be a trusted form of communication. Innovations in inkjet will drive substantial growth in digitally produced color page volume. When it comes to being profitable in the inkjet market, organizations need to be strategic and thoughtful in their actions. Service providers of all sizes need to keep their eye on inkjet technology and ensure that they have considered all the critical factors that will drive business results. ď‚ž Lisa Cross, Associate Director of InfoTrendsâ€™ Business Development Strategies Consulting Service, is responsible for conducting market research, managing consulting projects, and assisting companies in developing multi-channel communication, marketing, and content strategies.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
CANADIAN MAIL HIGHLIGHTS:
WHAT ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD KNOW AS THEY MAIL ACROSS THE BORDER By Kristi Kanitz
While Canada’s postal system is similar in many ways to that of the US, there are still significant differences to take into account.
anada has long been a market for US products, and the popularity of e-commerce makes the Great White North even more attractive. Mail remains essential in Canada, with its large size and scattered populations. It continues to be crucial in commerce, from acquisition to fulfilment to billing. A 2016 review by the federal government indicated 94% of Canadians believe mail is important, with 91% reporting satisfaction with Canada Post Corporation (CPC). The mail industry in Canada is a significant economic force, representing approximately $88 billion (CAD) in annual revenue and employing more than 800,000. The industry itself makes up between 80 and 90% of CPC’s annual revenues. There are close ties 16
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between the US and Canadian mailing industry members, with mail flowing across the border daily and well-established processes for entry. A LOOK AT OUR NEIGHBORLY DIFFERENCES Although the Canadian postal system looks similar to the US, there are significant differences mailers need to take into account. Like with the USPS, there are regulated versus non-regulated products impacting price setting. However, CPC is a Crown corporation — a rather peculiar organization. It is structured as a private corporation, making it, in theory, at arms-length from government influence. However, the federal government is its sole shareholder and the company, like private
ones, needs to ensure its shareholder is happy. Thus, political influences are at play. The Canadian system uses metric measurements such as grams and millimeters (but is fluent in imperial!) and operates in both official languages (French and English). The postal imprint or indicia must be bilingual. Delivery is Monday through Friday and subject to statutory holidays. Then, there is the alphanumeric Postal Code with its space in the middle, causing headaches in US systems built for numeric ZIPs. Mail classes resemble those in the US, although minimum volumes are higher. USPS First-Class Mail is equivalent to CPC’s Lettermail and its discounted Incentive Lettermail for transactional pieces. Personalized Mail is for promotional pieces, equivalent to USPS Marketing Mail.
mail service providers (MSPs) with an indicia and 2D barcode with the delivery address sprayed by CPC during the sort process. Discounted postage rates are available by preparing their jobs as either machineable or presorted (special handling). These names tend to confuse new mailers, as they do not mean the same thing as in the US. Presort is used primarily for oversize pieces for Personalized and Publications Mail. Machineable preparation is used with Incentive Lettermail, Standard Personalized Mail, and Publications Mail. PCT is a form of machineable mail with more stringent specifications. Machineable refers to the ability of a mail piece to successfully pass through sorting equipment. Pieces must be both machineable and readable. Machineability is determined by physical characteristics (size, weight, shape, sealing, flexibility, and enclosures). Pieces not meeting machineability specs may stick together or jam in machines, resulting in damage. Readability measures scanners’ ability to find and recognize the address and is influenced by clear space, shifting within a window, paper and ink with related smudges, skews and contrast, font, and physical address location. There is no sorting or bundling requirement for machineable mail.
Publications Mail is equivalent to Periodicals Mail, although publishers will be happy to know the Canadian version is far simpler than the complex USPS offering. CPC has two mail classes not found south of the border. Neighbourhood Mail (NM) is advertising mail with no name or address. Mailers select carrier walks, and pieces are delivered to every address within that walk. It is well-established and used in Canada. A DEEPER LOOK AT CANADIAN MAIL The newest mail class, Postal Code Targeting (PCT), officially launched in February of 2017. An acquisition offering, it allows mailers to target recipients at the Postal Code level. Mailers can receive a list of “like” prospects to postal codes they submit, suppress existing customers, and add seeds. It is printed by
IMPROVING THE MAIL PROCESS CPC and the mailing industry have been working to improve the efficiency of preparation and delivery while reducing complexity. To this end, there have been numerous changes recently; the following will summarize the most important. Agreements are not required to access Incentive Lettermail rates if the mailer has a CPC customer number, uses electronic shipping tools (EST) to produce documentation, and meets the minimum volume requirement. This was a pain point for many mailers and their MSPs. Machineable mail requires a static 2D barcode in the indicia. An optional 2D barcode can be used to ensure delivery if the address is not readable, with 21 characters for mailer use. Volume requirements have dropped to 400 pieces for Personalized Mail. Personalized Mail had several improvements. Customized indicia are now available at no additional charge and without pre-approval. The “return to sender” option was modified to an upfront $0.01 per piece on the full mailing rather than the much higher per-piece rate on returns. There was an increase in maximum thickness of dimensional pieces to 60mm (2.36”).
Publications Mail had very exciting changes, increasing value to publishers’ mailers. Catalogues may now be included without separate charge, adding only to the incremental weight. Sample pricing was simplified; attached samples incur only incremental weight charges, and enclosed samples are $0.10 each plus incremental weight. These changes allow increased revenue generation from advertising with little or no increase in postage. Undeliverable Publications Mail (uPM) pieces are charged a return fee; however, many pieces had valid addresses but no explanation for lack of delivery. CPC made changes in uPM handling, so mailers now pay only for returns with non-valid addresses, reducing fees for many publishers. A new class of Publications Mail was added for standard-size publications at a lower price point in recognition that all publications were being charged as though they were oversize even if they weren’t. This class is good news for standard-size publications. Neighbourhood Mail specs are now better aligned with the flyer industry, allowing pieces to be bigger and heavier. Delivery speed is being increased by up to two days, allowing better in-home estimates for mailers. Bundles of NM are now being measured by maximum height (six inches for <500g and eight inches for items up to 1kg) rather than maximum number of pieces. Since its launch, PCT has been undergoing fine-tuning based on consultation with the National Association of Major Mail Users (NAMMU) and MSPs. The $0.30 per piece product includes some data services and postage. Mailers use an MSP, who is provided unique 2D barcodes to print but no address. PCT is potentially an excellent acquisition product, and NAMMU is working with CPC on improvements including reducing time from concept to creation. Contracts are no longer required, indicia chevrons have been removed, and quiet zones have been tightened for more creative real estate. Work is still required to mitigate risk to MSPs, but the concept is solid for acquisition mailings. Whether B2C or B2B, direct mail is important in reaching Canadians. Mail, especially advertising and acquisition mail classes, is simpler than in USPS, and it is easy to get started. Take a look north of the border — we’re open for business! ¾ Kristi Kanitz is GM, Flagship Software Ltd. She also serves as Chair, Board of Directors for the National Association of Major Mail Users (NAMMU). Contact her at email@example.com. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
a WHAT IS THE QUALITY OF YOUR CURRENT POSTAL SOFTWARE & SERVICES? 18
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Understanding the possibilities available to a mailer can be daunting at times, especially in these times of declining mail volumes and the corresponding decrease in revenue. Companies can be hesitant to spend the funds on new software and services (and understandably so), but yet, the right solutions and equipment are vital to ensuring your mail operationâ€™s success. So what is a mailer to do? We asked several industry experts for their insight on the state of the market as well as a peek at how their products can help mailers succeed. Enjoy!
our award-winning Integratec API platform, which provides a secure, scalable API to integrate address standardization, postal preparation, and data quality directly into your process. BCC Software offers a full suite of integrated data enhancement, backed by data licensed from the USPS as well as a handful of carefully selected partners. We also offer mailpiece tracking and reporting to improve visibility into the mailstream and enable multi-channel communications. To learn more, please visit bccsoftware.com
Founded in 1978 and led by company president Chris Lien, BCC Software offers a suite of mailing software and data quality services that have been recognized across the industry for their robust capabilities. Now celebrating 40 years in business, BCC Software helps customers increase productivity and reduce costs by delivering comprehensive features, integration friendly products, and unlimited access to USPS® Mailpiece Design certified support professionals. BCC Mail Manager™, our USPS-certified address quality and mailing preparation software, is relied on by thousands of companies. The BCC Mail Manager family includes three levels to meet the needs of mailers of any size, from local mail preparers to the largest commercial printer. BCC Software solutions come with intuitive interfaces and are ready for custom integrations in your existing workflow. Our automation solutions are highlighted by
Founded in 2003, Click2Mail began its existence as operator of the Postal Service’s NetPost Mailing Online program. USPS developed NetPost to serve the needs of the underserved small- to medium-sized business (SMB) market, including nonprofits and home-based businesses, and Lee Garvey, Click2Mail’s founder and CEO, retained that focus when he created Click2Mail.com. Leveraging technology to streamline traditional print and mail workflows, Click2Mail.com pioneered webbased, next-day mailing of small volumes of letter, postcards, and flyers. Today, Click2Mail provides a complete outsourcing solution for the printing, mailing, and tracking of documents, postcards, and accountable mail. Using cloud-based process automation tools, users securely transmit files to Click2Mail for overnight printing and mailing with no minimum volume or subscription fees. With APIs and software as a service (SaaS) integration tools, Click2Mail enables organizations of all sizes to optimize mailing processes and reduce costs. Looking to the future, Click2Mail is continuing its unrelenting focus on innovation and making mail easy by developing and launching free software tools and apps that make sending postal mail as easy as sending email. With an Office Add-in for Word, MailMyDoc for Google Docs, MailJack+ for PDFs and Zaps that integrate with over 1,000 apps, Click2Mail helps automate almost any mailing workflow. www.click2mail.com
Firstlogic Solutions specializes in delivering data services solutions to data-driven
companies. Firstlogic’s products set the standard for address and data quality software when first introduced in 1984. Many users of these products have been customers for more than 30 years, with good reason. Firstlogic’s development and support professionals are highly acclaimed and are continuously innovating enhancements to the products, building on their stellar data parsing engine. This engine is acknowledged by many as the best in the business. Firstlogic DQ10 is the latest version of Firstlogic’s data quality software suite that combines file preparation, address quality, data enhancement, and matching/consolidation. Firstlogic DQ10 gives marketing departments, data analytics, and operations the capability to deliver personalized messages and superior customer service. Large and midsize companies nationwide rely on Firstlogic’s software to cut costs and meet their data quality objectives. To demonstrate the value of their software, Firstlogic offers a no-fee data quality assessment. Firstlogic processes actual customer datasets through their software to find data anomalies and improvement opportunities. Visit http://www.firstlogicsolutions. com/request-data-quality-assessment.aspx to take advantage of this service. Data drives every business. Data quality software enables organizations to get maximum benefit from the customer information they’ve collected and stored. Contact Firstlogic Solutions today. www.firstlogicsolutions.com
Flagship Software Ltd is a leading expert in addressing and mailing software for both Canada and the US. In business since 1995, Flagship provides quality software solutions, custom development services, network and systems support. Flagship’s software is sold throughout North America and Europe. iAddress™, Flagship’s industry leading address management package, launched in 1999. It is a high-quality, fully featured, userfriendly product, designed specifically for the needs of the mailing industry. As the market continued to demand faster, more intuitive, and solidly reliable correction regardless of input format or quality of input data, Flagship continued to enhance and refine its expertise to become the market leader in Canadian address management software with an integrated Canada-US product. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
iAddress™ is the most user-friendly and fully customizable address management software solution on the market today. Whether standalone or fully automated, or as a seamless address verification service for e-commerce, websites, call centers, or internal applications, Flagship has a solution to fit every need. With exceptional products and support, Flagship prides itself on delivering the highest level of customer service in the industry. Visit us at www.flagshipsoftware.com and book a web demo today!
Lorton Data solves problems. With nearly 30 years providing database quality and information management services, we’ve become experts working with mailers, printers, and marketers focusing on the highest caliber results. Our team is consistently recognized for its excellent customer service. From cleansing, enhancing, and maintaining customer information, to navigating complex postal regulations, Lorton Data has the tools and staff to get your job done right. Thousands of users access these services via our A-Qua Mailer™ platform freeing them from managing required postal software updates. Users can choose from A-Qua Mailer™ desktop and A-Qua Mailer™ web, or automate with A-Qua Mailer™ command and A-Qua Mailer™ FTP. In addition to our A-Qua Mailer products, we have a team of analysts with over 125 years of combined experience who can help you with those unusual or more difficult projects. You don’t have to turn that business away. We enjoy the challenge of handling the work you dread. Lorton Data is an NCOALink® Full-Service Licensee and completes annual SOC 2 audits. We continually strive to make things easy to get right and hard to get wrong. Contact us today at www.lortondata.com or 651.203.8200.
Since 1985, more than 10,000 customers have relied on Melissa for their address management, data quality, and data enhancement needs. And, our customers have become accustomed to visiting Melissa.com to get those needs met. However, to better highlight our many products and services that cater specifically to direct mailers and marketers, we are happy to announce MelissaDirect.com. 20
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Melissa Direct is the one source where you’ll find everything you need to mail successfully, including list hygiene and deduping, postal presorting, NCOALink® and CASS™ processing, DMA suppression, and global address verification. We also offer hundreds of specialty mailing lists so you can connect with your perfect audience and customer profiling so you can find new customers just like your best ones. Plus, our data enhancement services allow you to fill in the gaps in your data with demographics, firmographics, property data, and social media handles. Melissa Direct’s solutions help you improve deliverability, lower postage costs, and maintain meaningful contact with your customers. Melissa — one company, two brands, one goal — your success! Visit www.melissa.com.
Quadient® combines the capabilities of three Neopost sister companies, Satori Software, GMC Software, and Human Inference, into one technology portfolio of solutions designed to improve customer experience by improving the customer journey across print, digital, and social channels. Our solutions bring together and activate the entire organization in the name of customer experience, through better collaboration and visibility into the customer journey. Quadient supports thousands of clients and partners worldwide in the financial services, insurance, and service provider industries in their quest to achieve customer experience excellence via mobile, digital, social media, and print technologies. Quadient BulkMailer® helps you simplify your mailings, increase deliverability, navigate complex postal regulations, and achieve the lowest postage rates. Our best-in-class solutions make navigating the complex world of mass mailing simple. Quadient Ignite helps print service providers revolutionize their businesses by taking advantage of efficiency gains that improve how their customer data is processed. Built for easy integration and maintenance, Quadient® Architect offers a comprehensive contact data quality solution that will meet the unique needs of your business. To learn more about how Quadient can help your business, please visit www.quadient.com.
first service approach. Now, SmartSoft is known as one the most trusted address validation and postal software experts, providing innovative software solutions to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, financial institutions, not-for-profit organizations, major online retailers, and a whole host of other businesses. With an ongoing program of development and an unswerving commitment to great customer service, everything SmartSoft designs will save you time and money, so that you can get on with growing your business. Leading products include: SmartAddresser – the all-in-one postal software that is CASS- and PAVE-Certified by the USPS and easy to install and learn. AccuMail – industry-leading address verification tools that can be easily integrated into most third-party applications. MailSpotter – track the progress of your mailings using the IM barcode. You can see when and where mail is delivered with easy-to-read graphics, all accessed through your own unique reporting portal. PressWise – Print MIS and Workflow Automation system that lets you run your shop with a single, affordable, print management solution with unlimited customer web-to-print storefronts, end-to-end digital workflow automation, and fully integrated MIS. www.smartsoftusa.com
FEATURED POSTAL SOFTWARE & SERVICE COMPANIES BCC SOFTWARE
www.click2mail.com FIRSTLOGIC SOLUTIONS
www.firstlogicsolutions.com FLAGSHIP SOFTWARE
www.flagshipsoftware.com LORTON DATA
SmartSoft’s lineage began in 1968 by offering customizable business solutions and a client-
IS ADDRESS QUALITY REALLY IMPORTANT ANYMORE? 5 Solid Reasons for Improving Address Quality (and What It Costs if You Don’t)
In the new eBook, Firstlogic Solutions explains why address data is so important to organizations today. The book identifies ways companies use address data — many of which have nothing to do with mailing but affect critical business operations, nonetheless. Data quality software provides companies with many opportunities for improving and enhancing customer address data. From combatting fraud to super-precise geographic target marketing, corrected and verified address information allows organizations to leverage data in ways that produce competitive advantages and protect the bottom line from unnecessary expenses.
OUR INDUSTRY-LEADING DATA QUALITY PLATFORM DELIVERS
BEST-IN-CLASS ADDRESS QUALITY
PRECISION & PERFORMANCE
Trusted by successful companies for over 30 years, the Firstlogic DQ10 platform enables our customers to leverage address information to conduct business more efficiently, meet regulatory requirements, and enhance customer experiences. • • • • •
FirstPrep™ file preparation ACE® address cleansing DataRight IQ® data cleansing Match/Consolidate® matching PAF Manager™ change of address
Re qu eB est oo Yo k ur at F Fi RE rs E tlo 20 gi 18 cS A ol dd ut re io ss ns Q .c u om al it
Experts agree data is a key differentiator among competitors. How organizations use data affects operational efficiency, brand reputation, and customer experiences. Management decisions based on inaccurate information can be costly, and customers exposed to bad data may take their business elsewhere. Data quality is paramount to effective data use. Unlike most data that companies accumulate, customer address information can be independently verified, corrected, standardized, and enhanced. Unfortunately, multiple entry points and disparate corporate databases cause corporations to store inconsistent, duplicate, or contradictory customer address information.
In the eBook, you’ll discover many ways organizations use address information to conduct business efficiently, meet regulatory requirements, and enhance customer experiences. The eBook will acquaint you with the benefits of address quality software that go beyond producing a clean address for mailing or shipping. Information presented will help you raise customer awareness about the costs of maintaining and executing on poor quality address information. “5 Solid Reasons for Improving Address Quality” includes a chapter for mail service providers and in-plant mail centers covering the reasons mail is still an important communication channel. This content can be useful in preparing for conversations with internal and external customers. Information in the rest of the book may be an eye-opener for managers and executives throughout the organization. You are invited to download a free copy of “5 Solid Reasons for Improving Address Quality” CLICK HERE or go to www.firstlogicsolutions.com
INSOURCING OR OUTSOURCING: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOUR OPERATION? There is no one-size-ﬁts-all answer to this question; here’s what to ask yourself when weighing the options By Thom Roylance Growing up in southern California in a small, middle-class home, my parents taught me at a young age that certain words were inappropriate. After an unexploded firecracker (one of several that I had been playing with in the fireplace days earlier) suddenly went off during our Sunday night viewing of the latest Bonanza episode, I learned what a few of those words were! “What’s one of the dirtiest words in business? Chances are that the word “outsourcing” comes to mind. Some despise it, many business owners shy away from it and countless entrepreneurs depend on it.” That quote from YFS Magazine reminds me of an old Dennis the Menace comic strip: 22
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“If I have to sit in the corner for sayin’ it, at least you could tell me what it means!” I’m here to let you know the good, the bad, and, perhaps, the ugly, of outsourcing. Regardless of how one feels about outsourcing, it’s not always a bad thing. And let’s not forget its opposite: insourcing, which has its own set of perks as well. Outsourcing is defined as “to procure (something, such as some goods or services needed by a business or organization) from outside sources and especially from foreign or nonunion suppliers [or] to contract for work, jobs, etc., to be done by outside or foreign workers.” Common synonyms include “contract out,” “farm out,” “subcontract,” and “delegate.”
On the flip side, insourcing is defined as the practice of using an organization’s own personnel or other resources to accomplish a task or provide a service. It can also be defined as delegating a job to someone within a company. In the simplest of terms: You do the work! Before diving into the ins and outs of sourcing your work, let’s look at the typical services found in many, if not most, mail service operations. INBOUND Most companies handle their inbound mail delivery. This can include internal delivery of large and small envelopes, magazines, and packages, as well as inter-office mail.
In smaller operations, inbound mail is often sorted once for final delivery. In many larger operations, inbound volumes are sorted more often: a primary sortation to organize mail into delivery routes, followed by a second sortation as mail is delivered to individuals or locations. Operations that receive a large volume of inbound packages, such as colleges and universities, may separate typical mail from packages and create a route dedicated to package delivery. Some institutions will rely on individual carriers providing the last mile of delivery, while others prefer to reduce the amount of traffic on their campuses and maintain control of package delivery. OUTBOUND Nearly all mail service operations process outbound mail; that’s where the money is made and/or saved. Regardless of the industry, all organizations must take responsibility for their outgoing mail, whether that’s desktop mail — mail that is generated during the course of normal business operations — or bulk mail, including market-
ing, sales, solicitation mail, or similar types of communications. If you prepare your company’s bulk mailings, there is a good chance that some of the processes include folding, inserting, tabbing, list preparation, and more. Regardless of organization size or its corresponding mail volumes, there are ample opportunities to take advantage of both outsourcing and insourcing. WHY OUTSOURCE? There are a variety of reasons for companies and organizations to look to outsourcing some processes and services. In my 35-plus years in the mailing industry, the number one reason for outsourcing mail operations has been the high costs of labor and benefits. Upper management often feels that savings can be realized by letting an outside mail processing company handle the company’s mail. However, that may not always be the most cost-effective decision. Another reason many organizations outsource their mail is mail volumes just aren’t large enough to warrant in-house processing. In these cases, it may be wise to selectively
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
outsource that portion of your mail processing. If your volumes don’t warrant postal discounts, a nearby consolidator or presort bureau may be a good alternative. Along with low volumes, another hurdle is the lack of funding for mailing equipment and software. Inserting, inkjet addressing, and tabbing equipment can be pricey. There’s also the cost of mailing software plus annual equipment maintenance and software updates. Another common option is the outsourcing of mail handling personnel. By having another company process your mail, you free up existing manpower for other tasks. It also transfers the headaches that often come with hiring, firing, and training new employees.
BY MAILING WHAT YOU PRINT AND PRINTING WHAT YOU MAIL, YOU GAIN BETTER CONTROL OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS AS WELL AS THE FINISHED PRODUCT. THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT FOR MAINTAINING A POSITIVE CORPORATE OR COMPANY IDENTITY.
CAN I INSOURCE? If you can bring in additional work, you can make more efficient use of existing equipment. It allows you to spread depreciation and/or operational costs over a greater base. In many cases, it would also allow you to qualify for additional work-sharing postal discounts. By spreading labor costs over a broader workload, it would also assist in right-sizing your organization for the peaks and valleys that often come throughout the year. Another reason that companies may choose to insource is due to bad experiences with outsourcing. “One reason for insourcing to occur is if a company had previously outsourced a certain task, but was no longer satisfied with the work being done on that task, so the company could therefore insource the task and assign it to someone within the 24
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company who they believe will do a better job,” as explained by Merriam Webster. By keeping the work in-house, you’re able to maintain better control over operational processes. This can provide for better customer satisfaction. And with seasoned staff, you maintain better control of institutional memory and corporate identity, something that is often overlooked when management is simply looking at numbers. TRUST THE SCOUT MOTTO: BE PREPARED How do you prepare your operation to be the most qualified to handle your organization’s mail? Start with your staff. Keep them motivated and constantly seeking innovative ways to process your mail. All the players should have a vested interest in the success of the operation, whether outsourced or not. Make sure you keep all employees, especially those up the line, aware of the good that you do. When things run smoothly, little notice is given. It’s ok to brag, but you have to be able to back it up with solid proof consisting of actual monetary and time savings, efficiencies, and problems solved. When something bad happens — and trust me, it will — look at it as an opportunity to exceed expectations. A customer’s or department’s mis-delivered or delayed letter or package is seemingly never forgotten. If a mistake is made, own it, learn from it, and implement changes to prevent it from occurring in the future. Look for ways to exceed that customer’s expectation. Perhaps have a supply of movie tickets, gift cards, or restaurant vouchers that you can offer to an unhappy customer. (These are also good for rewarding individual employees for going above and beyond.) One critical aspect of any mail operation is knowing your costs. EVERYTHING must be measured. Count everything that is touched each time it is touched. Count containers, not individual pieces. Use standard volumes, either industry or your own, to identify those quantities. Most operations will use 500 letters per full tray, 150 flats per full tub, 75 parcels per full hamper, and 100 parcels in a full cage. Your numbers may differ. Regardless of which numbers you use, make sure you use the same numbers throughout the year, allowing you to compare “apples to apples.”
Measure all mail streams: incoming mail and packages from all carriers, internal mail and packages, outgoing mail and packages, both domestic and international, and, of course, outgoing bulk mail, or Marketing Mail. It’s also critical to keep track of costs and expenses: salaries, benefits, equipment (both acquisition and maintenance), vehicles, and supplies. NOW WHAT? As more companies shift from hardcopy mail to digital, mail volumes will continue to decline. One aspect of mail processing that is rising is the volume of both inbound and outbound packages. Look for opportunities to provide package services. Work with state government or industry associations to qualify for discounted shipping rates. Add a processing fee that keeps the price lower than the published price and make a little profit while providing the customer a discount. Look for ways to improve secure delivery using tracking systems. There are several excellent companies that provide tracking software and hardware. Look for additional services that you may be able to provide. What about your not-so-typical mail services? Over the past several years, many mail operations have either been brought into the printing processes or mailers have now added printing to their list of services. By mailing what you print and printing what you mail, you gain better control of the entire process as well as the finished product. This is especially important for maintaining a positive corporate or company identity. Not everything in life runs smoothly. Be patient, be diligent, work to improve processes, and as you continue moving forward, remember the words from the movie Galaxy Quest: “Never give up! Never surrender!” And leave the dirty words to R-rated movies. ¾ Thom Roylance has served as the Assistant Director of Brigham Young University for almost 30 years. He also served as the president of the National Association of College and University Mail Services (NACUMS) from 1995-1997. This article on the “Ins and Outs of Sourcing your Work” is taken from a presentation given at both the National Postal Forum (NPF) and at NACUMS.
ROOF TOP GEOCODING CASE STUDY – POSTMARK INC. Problem: PostMark’s healthcare industry customers need to quickly and accurately alert patients of their new provider and healthcare location based on their residence. Services Used: • BCC Mail Manager • Rooftop Geocoding Results: The healthcare network was satisfied, as their campaign was processed in just one day thanks to PostMark. If the customer had done this campaign internally? It would have taken three weeks. With a satisfied customer, PostMark is able to uniquely offer Rooftop Geocoding, among other data quality services, to all of their customers.
“Your customer support is a strong, strong positive for all of BCC Software.” — Dick Vann, Senior Advisor and Partner at PostMark.
When Jon Bowman and Dick Vann from PostMark Inc. (PostMark), a fullservice mail house located in WinstonSalem, North Carolina, had a customer in the healthcare industry who needed to get a direct mail letter out with customerspecific geographic information, they knew they needed to deliver a timely and accurate solution. Facing the reality of changing innetwork providers, the customer needed to ensure that residents in the area were made aware of the new providers they were reassigned to as well as the new locations where they could receive healthcare based on where they lived. Clearly communicating this change in a timely matter was especially important since some of the areas covered by the healthcare network were very rural. To ensure this, PostMark looked to BCC Software for a solution that fit the bill — Rooftop Geocoding. Rooftop Geocoding from BCC Software allows the sender to precisely target personalized messages by adding the exact longitude and latitude — to six decimal places — of the address on each record. On top of already reaping the benefits of seamless mailing thanks to BCC
Mail Manager™, PostMark was able to easily integrate Rooftop Geocoding into its operations, and worked closely with BCC Software’s Customer Support team to get it all set up. “BCC Software customer support is absolutely excellent. They don’t play games. We worked closely with them to work through the details of setting up Rooftop Geocoding into our operations,” says Vann. After working with BCC Software to get Rooftop Geocoding up and running with their workflow,
PostMark was able to turn around its customer’s seemingly complex job in just one day. This would have taken the customer at least three weeks to process were they to do it internally. By offering services like Rooftop Geocoding, PostMark is standing apart from its direct competitors. “It’s important to work with your customers to understand their pain points and develop a comprehensive strategy,” says Bowman. “We appreciate the product that you produce, because we know that the market is not the world’s largest, but you have a very strong product, and we make heavy use of it,” explains Vann. To learn more, visit bccsoftware.com/rooftop
SEAMLESS ACCEPTANCE + INFORMED VISIBILITY = IMPROVED TRACKING AND TRANSPARENCY By Kurt Ruppel and Bob Rosser
As you strive to evaluate the effectiveness of your multi-channel campaigns, Seamless Acceptance and Informed Visibility are two tools that will help you greatly.
ver the past several years, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has introduced a number of technologies to streamline mail entry. These tools provide obvious advantages for the USPS in terms of efficiencies, automating mail entry, and verification operations; however, they also provide benefits for mail service providers (MSP) and mail owners as well. USPS programs such as Seamless Acceptance (SA) and Informed Visibility (IV) are the engines providing the data needed to evaluate the effectiveness of direct mail programs and to effectively integrate direct mail into multichannel marketing campaigns. The data provided by SA and IV allows mail service providers to: } Ensure they are meeting customer requirements and expectations } Ensure customers are getting value from their postage spend } Keep mail in sync with other channels and operations } Drive continuous improvement in mail acceptance performance } Reduce errors
SEAMLESS ACCEPTANCE DATA FUELS INFORMED VISIBILITY SA automates mail entry using unique barcodes on each mail piece, handling unit (tray, bundle, or sack), and container (pallet). These unique barcodes, combined with electronic documentation (eDoc) for mail make-up and payment, are the drivers that fuel enhanced understanding of mail performance. SA is built on the data from the Full-Service and eInduction programs. Scans from mail processing equipment (MPE) are compared to the eDoc, confirming that it accurately represents the physical mail presented to the USPS. Mail quality is tracked on a monthly basis against thresholds for accuracy of various data types, rather than on a mailing-by-mailing basis based on physical examination of the mail. SA has been open to all mailers since the spring of 2017. IV leverages nesting information in eDocs to enhance raw MPE scans to provide greater intelligence throughout the USPS processing network. Unlike earlier mail tracking programs Confirm and IMb Tracing, IV adds visibility to handling units, containers, transportation, and letter carrier movements to the mix of data
breaks the “fence,” delivery is assumed for all pieces with the carrier going to delivery points within the “fence.” WHO GETS THE DATA? One of the advantages of IV, compared to previous programs, is a more robust ability to receive and share data across the direct mail supply chain. It provides default access to the following: } The owner of the Mailer ID (MID) on the mail piece has access to piece, bundle, handling unit, and container information. } The eDoc submitter/mail preparer gets access to information on handling units and containers. } The mail owner has access to data regarding the mail piece, bundle, handling unit, and containers. } The facility access and shipment tracking (FAST) scheduler has access to container information.
available to both USPS operations personnel and MSPs for more effective management of in-home dates. IV has moved from pilot to full rollout status for the basic program in 2017 and will see the introduction of additional functionality throughout 2018. WHAT’S NEW WITH INFORMED VISIBILITY? IV differs from its predecessors not only in the type of mail objects it tracks, but also in the information available about those objects. Some of this new information includes: Assumed Handling Events are based on handling of a higher-level mail object. For example, when a container (pallet) is scanned in a postal facility, all the handling units and mail pieces that are in that container are also assumed to be at that facility. Logical Handling Events are based on business rules. For example, a logical delivery event is the implied date and time that delivery should have occurred based on letter carriers’ movement on their routes. The letter carriers now carry GPS-enabled scanning devices. With each delivery route geo-fenced into sections, when the carrier
All of the above users are able to delegate or share their data with anyone else in their supply chain. IV makes getting the right data to the right recipient at the right time easier than ever, enabling transparency for all participants. Mailers need to keep in mind data delegation requires robust quality control processes to ensure the right data is sent to the properly identified parties. IV data delegation will only succeed if the supply chain “does it right the first time” and then validates, rather than assumes, the correct parties are receiving the data they need. HOW THE USPS USES DATA AND VISIBILITY USPS operations use this new visibility data to predict upcoming workloads so they can better manage their labor force. More data also supports proactive troubleshooting to identify “at risk” mail and intervene while there’s still a chance to meet delivery expectations. Operations managers also use internal visibility dashboards to track the performance of their facilities and to identify the “vital few” that are driving the most missed service performance standards. These dashboards also allow managers to better understand service issues, so they can direct attention to the areas where it will do the most good. USING DATA AND VISIBILITY FOR IMPROVED TRACKING AND TRANSPARENCY IV data allows MSPs to better manage mailings as these pieces move through the
USPS network. The presence or absence of data and comparing “expected” vs. “actual” results can provide insight into whether a mailing is on-track to meet its expected in-home date. Tracking data anomalies compared to SA scan rates can also provide guidance about the extent and nature of any delivery problems that may occur. Troubleshooting becomes easier with enhanced data. The data can identify a pallet that is accidently shipped early, which may lead to undocumented pieces on the Mailer Scorecard because the eDoc hasn’t been uploaded yet. If a pallet scan is missed at a destination facility, handling unit or piece scans from mail included on that pallet will provide reassurance that the pallet was received. Accumulating historical performance results can allow MSPs to build predictive delivery curves, which can become a great planning tool to aid meeting in-home delivery targets and be valuable in making adjustments to mail plans due to last minute changes to production schedules. COORDINATING MAIL WITH OTHER MARKETING CHANNELS This is all about timing, sharing, and triggering the right actions at the right time. Through IV, marketers will have even more precise estimates of in-home delivery, allowing them to more accurately trigger additional touches through other channels to reinforce the marketing message of the mail piece. Logical and assumed events provide promise of more downstream detail than the last automation scan at the Sectional Center Facility (SCF), which is what was previously available. THE CHALLENGE OF TRANSPARENCY With SA and IV, everyone has easier access to a greater range of mailing information, but these new tools are only valuable if the data is accurate. All participants have a responsibility for the quality of the data in their link in the chain. There needs to be an understanding of what the data is revealing about supply chains and mailings. Educating all participants in the supply chain will be vital so everyone can share a common understanding of the data and avoid misinterpretation. ¾ Kurt Ruppel, director, Postal Policy and Marketing Communications and Bob Rosser, director, Postal Affairs, Products & Services at IWCO Direct, presented this topic at the 2017 National Postal Forum. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kurt at email@example.com. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
If lost postage is costing you money (and it is very likely that it is), here are the steps you can take to stem the tide. 28
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TO RECOVERING LOST POSTAGE Adam Lewenberg
Lost postage is a serious and pervasive issue for many companies, and yet, most have no idea they are losing millions of dollars because of it. Mailers need to know why this happens, where this money goes, how you can go about recovering your funds, and finally, how to prevent this type of leakage in the future. THE MOST COMMON REASONS FOR LOST POSTAGE FUNDS 1. Expense vs. asset – Once funds are deposited in the different postage accounts, most companies write them off as an expense. In other words, the money is considered spent. However, until the postage is utilized, these balances are a company asset rather than an expense and should be treated as such. 2. Decentralized oversight – Often, there is no single location within a company where postage is managed. For instance, it might be managed separately from the permits and mail house funding. There could also be multiple departments managing their own permits for different mailings or reply mail activities. For example, the marketing department might have its own permit for mass mailings, while accounts receivable uses a separate account for Business Reply Mail (BRM) to get pay-
ments returned. This decentralization creates opportunity for oversight, allowing cost leakages to go undetected. 3. Multiple locations – Postage management gets even more difficult when each location sets up their own permits or has individually funded postage meter accounts. 4. Mailings run on mail service providers’ permit numbers – Companies typically receive an estimate of the funds needed for mailings but do not look at the final postage statements to validate what was spent. 5. Accounts are terminated or forgotten – In 2008, there were over 1.5 million postage meters in the US, compared to less than one million today. This means that one-third of all meters were returned during this period. There is a similar trend with permit accounts as more organizations are eliminating local BRM and postage due accounts. Was there a process at your company to make sure each closed account got the funds properly returned? WHAT HAPPENS TO THE LOST POSTAGE? Postage Meter Lost Funds – When a mail machine gets returned because it is no longer needed (or when you switch vendors), the money on the meter is returned to the postage account. The final balance of this account is now available to be refunded,
and you may receive a statement of the final postage balance. If you do not contact the meter vendor to request a check for reimbursement, only one of the meter vendors turns the funds over to the states’ unclaimed funds offices. The remaining companies will hold onto the money through their USPS accounts until you request it. The question is, what visibility are they providing to you indicating funds are available, and if your office closed, where are they sending this information? Permit Accounts Lost Funds – The USPS defines an inactive permit as an “imprint, meter, or pre-canceled account [that has] no mailings or payment of fees during a twoyear period from the date of fee expiration.” If the balance exceeds $25, it is required to send the customer a letter with a Form 3553 to get your funds reimbursed. In the January/February 2014 issue of Mailing Systems Technology, I wrote an article about how the USPS has been taking our permit funds when they become inactive and dormant. Since then, the Office of Inspector General of the USPS conducted a study titled “Dormant Advance Deposit Permit Accounts,” which confirms these findings and made recommendations for change that were rejected by USPS management. According to the study, “during MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018
fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service refunded $9.2 million of that amount to customers; $15.6 million of customers’ unclaimed dormant account balances was considered income to the Postal Service during that same timeframe.” In other words, USPS admits that it considers unclaimed and dormant account balances income. Also, during these two years — fiscal 2012 and 2013 — 63% of these dormant funds were not returned to customers. If we extrapolate these numbers over 10-20 years, there could be hundreds of millions in dormant permit funds that the USPS has held onto and made it very difficult for the average entity to claim. The bigger issue is how the USPS handles these funds. With most organizations — corporate, non-profit, and state government — unclaimed funds are turned over to the state’s unclaimed funds office, where it is easy to search for your money. These funds typically remain visible on that state’s website or on www.missingmoney.com until the money is claimed. With the USPS, at 24 months of inactivity, a notification is sent (USPS 16-7.3 Sample Add-Pos NonUse Cancellation Notice). The entity then has 30-60 days to either collect their funds or renew the permit, or the money gets transferred into a general ledger account where the money is considered income to the USPS. Worse, these dormant permit accounts are deleted from PostalOne! and archived one year from when the funds are transferred. The only way to get this money back is to know what funds you had lost, and then go to that specific local postmaster or district for help. While there is a procedure that can be followed to get access to the information, the visibility and accessibility is lost at the local level. Mail Service Providers’ Lost Funds — Oftentimes, for the ease of funding or because a company does not want to set up permits in the geographic area where the provider is located, they will use the permit accounts of their mail house or presort service. Companies will typically deposit funds upfront for future mailings. The mail provider will create an invoice detailing the funds used for recent projects. However, these invoices typically provide minimal information or can be challenging to decipher if you are unfamiliar with the mailing industry. Further, companies rarely request postal statements and balance receipts of the funds utilized. Finally, very few companies check the details of these invoices to see exactly what they are paying for. These types of oversights can lead to lost postage funds. 30
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STEPS FOR IDENTIFYING AND RECOVERING LOST POSTAGE Postage Meters – It’s critical to locate prior meter accounts and compare this to the current population. Look for any current and past reports you may have received from your postage meter provider. We also recommend doing a search of your accounts payable system going as far back as possible. Enter the mailing vendors’ names and see where you had expenses that may no longer be active. When contacting the meter vendor to validate available funds, try to have the following information: location name, address, account number, postage account information (prepaid or advance, invoice number, serial number). Once the funds have been identified, the vendor can send you a link to their online form where the funds can be requested. Funds may also be available where you had office closures or had changed meter vendors. Finally, it is important to know your balances in all active accounts because it is common to find funds sitting dormant in prepaid postage accounts when the location is actively using an advanced funds or vice versa. Permit Accounts – The USPS offers very limited support in the area of permit accounts. However, the best way we have found to combat this is to go through your accounts payable files and look for transactions paid to “USPS,” “United States Postal Service,” or “Postmaster […].” If you spent over $200 on an item on the invoice, take a closer look because that is a typical annual permit fee. You will need the following information for your search: location name, address, permit number, permit type, USPS post office name and address. Go to your local postmaster to validate if funds are available. If you are large enough to have a postal liaison, you can ask them for assistance. Once the funds have been identified, fill out PS Form 3533 to have the money returned. The USPS may be reluctant to help with this process either due to resources or a lack of understanding of the issue. It is important that you stress they are acting like a bank when holding your funds, and they should be held to the same fiduciary standards. It is your right to request that they search for funds held in their coffers. Mail Service Providers – You would want to follow the same accounts payable search that you did in the sections above, but in this case, look for businesses that provided mailing services for you in the past. Some organizations code this expense in their systems when the
transactions are being entered, and others might be able to give a reminder of what vendors had been used in the past. Go back to these providers and ask for any documentation detailing postage accounts maintained in your name to validate that all funds have been returned. BEST PRACTICES FOR PREVENTING THIS FROM HAPPENING IN THE FUTURE Postage Meter Accounts – It is important to have online visibility of your postage balances. Most meter vendors can give you web access to this information. This is an easy way to check your balances and see every time the meter is filled. If you have multiple meters, link them to this same online visibility, and if possible, onto master account numbers. Now, if any office closes, the money will automatically go back into the master account to be used by other locations. Finally, stick with one prefunding or advance postage strategy so funds cannot get confused. Permit Accounts – Link all permits to the Centralized Account Processing System (CAPS), or create visibility on the Business Customer Gateway. This way, you can go to the USPS website and see your account balances and transactions where funds were withdrawn. The best part is you can manage the funding and permit fees from one place rather than scrambling last minute to pay postage for mailing projects. Mail Service Providers – Use as few providers as possible. As part of the scope, have quarterly reviews where the details of your mailings, invoices, and account balances are discussed. Make sure to go over at least a couple of invoices to understand their format and request additional detail if necessary. SUMMARY As we migrate to digital, we are mailing from fewer places and with fewer providers. With fewer experts to manage postage, it can be expected that more funds will be lost. By understanding what can happen to your funds, and by developing structure around its future management, you can eliminate potential lost postage for your organization. ¾ Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest mail audit and recovery firm in the United States and Canada. Since 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 60% and over $34 million on equipment, avoidable fees, and lost postage. Adam can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam.lewenberg@ postaladvocate.com.
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Mailing Systems Technology Jan/Feb 2018