Mailing Systems Technology July/August 2019

Page 1

ARE YOU READY TO IMPLEMENT INKJET? PAGE 14 JULY - AUGUST 2019

MailingSystemsTechnology.com

r ting e v n o C r s to e d a e R rs e m o t Cus AGE 22 P

A LOOK AT INFORMED VISIBILITY — AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE USING IT PAGE 20

A MID-YEAR CHECKUP: WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH POSTAL REFORM? PAGE 24

6 WAYS YOUR DATA USAGE COULD IMPACT YOUR MAIL'S RESULTS PAGE 8




TABLE OF CONTENTS

JULY - AUGUST 2019 | VOLUME 32 ISSUE 4

DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note

Don't Overlook the Power of Print By Amanda Armendariz

06 Real-Life Management Problems Can Be to Our Benefit

18

20

By Wes Friesen

08 The Trenches 6 Ways Data Will Affect the Mailing Business By Mike Porter

10 Software Byte

Stemming Seamless Acceptance Fears By Jeff Peoples

28

22

12 Connecting Point

Closing the Visibility Gaps in Flat Mail Tracking

By Anita Pursley

FEATURES

13 Inkjet Info 18 Machine Learning in the Mail Center

Instead of fearing that our digital counterparts will replace us in the mail center, we should be embracing the benefits they can provide for our operation.

24 Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

2019 is halfway done, but when it comes to postal reform, it seems that more questions remain unanswered than ever.

By Kathleen Siviter

By Bruce E. Little

20 Informed Visibility: What It Is, What It Provides, and Why You Should Use It By Angelo Anagnostopoulos

22 Direct Mail in the Digital Age How the power of print can help convert readers to customers. By Eric Hawkinson

4

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

28 Optimize Your Carrier Spends Across Your Organization

Here are some best practices to ensure that your organization’s shipping spend isn’t bleeding your company dry. By Adam Lewenberg

Implementing Inkjet with Profit in Mind By Pat McGrew

SPONSORED CONTENT: 14 Are You Ready to Implement Inkjet? 27 Join the Shift to Inkjet


EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 32, ISSUE 4 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz amanda.c@rbpub.com Editorial Director Allison Lloyd allison.l@rbpub.com Contributing Writers Angelo Anagnostopoulos, Wes Friesen, Eric Hawkinson, Adam Lewenberg, Bruce E. Little, Pat McGrew, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Anita Pursley, Kathleen Siviter Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman rachel@rbpub.com Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 ken.w@rbpub.com Design Kelli Cooke RB Publishing PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: rbpub@rbpub.com 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 rachel@rbpub.com Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 www.ReprintPros.com All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2019 by RB Publishing 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 or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing 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 32 Issue 4] is published seven times per year (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing,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

DON’T OVERLOOK THE POWER OF PRINT BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ

O

nce again, I feel that I’m sitting down to write my first editor’s note after returning from my annual trip to the National Postal Forum with a feeling of optimism. After all, attending NPF always leaves me feeling excited about the newest innovations in the industry — innovations that are making printed communication pieces more relevant and persuasive than ever. It’s fascinating to see that as digital marketing and communications become more commonplace, hard copy mail is actually becoming more effective, not less. People are tired of being constantly bombarded by digital images and find themselves glossing over the messages or ignoring them completely. Physical mail pieces, on the other hand, are trusted and read by an impressive amount of recipients — millennials included. This is why I always figuratively scratch my head when people assume that mail is on a permanent decline, headed the way of the stagecoach or the telegraph. Yes,

First-Class mail volumes are much lower than they were in their heyday, and I don’t think they’ll ever get back to the level they once were. There’s no denying that. However, the mail that is still being sent out is productive, especially when coupled with an omnichannel marketing strategy that incorporates digital complements. The most successful mailers will be those who realize this and incorporate all avenues into their communication strategies. I hope you find this issue helpful as you strive to optimize the effectiveness of your printed mail pieces. After all, mail has been shown, time and time again, to be among the most effective methods of engaging your customers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

5


REAL-LIFE MANAGEMENT

PROBLEMS CAN BE TO OUR BENEFIT BY WES FRIESEN

D

o you like problems? I don’t, and you likely don’t, either. But experts say — and I am still learning this myself! — that problems can actually be our friends. Successful CEO and author Robert Kiyosaki said, “Inside of every problem lies an opportunity.” If we address problems wisely, they can help us and our teams learn, grow, and improve. The bottom line is, problems provide an opportunity to make things better. To illustrate this point, look at the things that surround us that we use every day; many of them were developed in response to a problem. For example, listening to music on the go was practically impossible without carrying around a suitcase of CDs (which, naturally, no one wanted to do); the response to this problem is now the reason why we can listen to 3,000 songs on a one-inch square object clipped to our shirts. Problems are the reason we have phones that fit in the palm of our hands, back-up cameras on our cars, indoor toilets... the examples are endless. So, the first key to having problems be our friends is to change our mindsets and view problems as what they are: opportunities to make things better for us and the people we affect. The next key is to have an effective and thoughtful problem-solving process that we carefully follow and execute. Following is an “IDEAL” problem-solving process that can help us achieve the desired outcomes and benefits we desire.

6

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

IDEAL Problem-Solving Strategy This approach was introduced by Bransford and Stein back in 1984. Following is my modified version and explanation of this model: I – Identify the problem D – Define the cause(s) E – Explore possible solutions A – Act L – Look and learn Identifying the Problem It is essential to be clear what the problem really is. Steve Jobs explained, “If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” Charles Kettering adds, “A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” It is helpful to ask questions of affected parties and avoid the blame game. I agree with Henry Ford’s advice, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Meanwhile, Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solution.” I think Einstein was purposefully exaggerating, but the point is clear — we need to make sure we really understand the problem before moving on. Defining the Cause A huge part of solving a problem is finding the root cause(s). Why did this problem happen? One helpful technique is to consider if one or more of these

key areas are causes: people (was there human error caused by inadequate training, carelessness, etc.?); process (is there a deficiency in our processes?); or technology. Let me illustrate using an example of a problem that happened over 15 years ago with my print and mail team. One day, we mistakenly mailed out 2,000 customer bills where the back of the bill had information from a different customer than the front of the bill. Oops! Fortunately, the consequences were minimal, but they could have been significant. We analyzed the root causes and found we had a people problem (a printer operator had carelessly not followed a standard procedure); a process deficiency (in hindsight, we could have had an additional quality check); and a technology weakness (our two printers had a switch to ensure that the second printer was printing the right customer data on the back of the bill; this switch had to be manually turned on by the operator instead of being a default that was always on). Exploring Possible Solutions Now that we know the problem and the root causes, we can turn our attention to possible solutions. Travis Kalanick said (and I tend to agree), “Every problem has a solution. You just have to be creative enough to find it.” It helps to encourage brainstorming and solicit creative ideas from people close to the situation, such as team members and relevant support staff. Also, identify key stakeholders and look for “win-win” solutions from their perspective. One caution — be careful to avoid “unintended consequences.” Unintended consequences can occur when we are too hasty in making decisions and have not thought through the effects on other people and/or longterm consequences. In the above bill problem example, we landed on multiple solutions, including: coaching the operator who made the mistake and re-training all operators on standard procedures; adding another quality check via a periodic visual check as bills are being printed; and setting the printer switch to always be on so it’s verifying the front and back of bill information are in sync.


Act Now is the time to choose the best solution(s) and fix the problem. Ensure that all relevant team members and other support staff are being effectively used so the implementation of our selected solutions work. Make sure we have an appropriate implementation plan, set expectations, and err on the side of over-communicating versus under-communicating. In the bill problem example, we implemented the proposed solutions identified above. Look and Learn The first part of this last step means to monitor results and make sure that our solutions work as intended. In the bill problem example above, since the described solutions were adopted, the team has produced over 160 million bills. Guess how many of these bills had the wrong page problem: zero. However, in

the real world, solutions don’t always work as planned, so we need to carefully monitor and avoid premature celebrations. If solutions are working, we need to make sure they are documented and people are trained and supported in following these solutions. What about the second part of this step? Perhaps the best learning experiences we have is when we make mistakes, then resolve and reflect on what we can do differently in the future. There is an old saying that “Experience is the best teacher.” I think a better saying is, “Reflected experience is the best teacher.” Respected leadership expert and acclaimed professor Warren Bennis had the opportunity to have extended interviews with some of the most successful leaders in various fields across our country. One of the key takeaways from his study is that all of these great leaders acknowledged making mistakes, but by reflecting

and learning from mistakes, they became better people and leaders. This concept is supported by Michael Alter, President of SurePay, when he said, “Mistakes are the tuition you pay for success.” In closing, I like the sentiment that Tony Robbins expressed when he said, “Every problem is a gift. Without them, we wouldn’t grow.” On that note, let’s go and make problems into our friends!  Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. He is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management, and team-building training. Wes can be contacted at wesmfriesen@gmail.com or at 971.806.0812.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

7


THE TRENCHES

make better decisions about how to connect with their customers.

INDUSTRY BUZZ: 6 WAYS DATA WILL AFFECT THE MAILING BUSINESS BY MIKE PORTER

I

’ve been attending industry events and conferences lately, covering various aspects of the document industry, including transactional print, commercial print, and mailing. While the focus of each event is different, one main theme has been present in all the programs: data. This topic is on the minds of market-leading companies that send their employees to industry conferences. Presenters and exhibitors are explaining how to leverage data to address the rapidly changing customer communications landscape. Not everyone can attend the informational forums that keep customer communication professionals up to date, so I thought it would be helpful to summarize some interesting trends and discussions I’ve encountered as I spoke with exhibitors and listened to informational sessions over the last few months. Data Is the Key… Everywhere Everyone’s talking about data. It’s clear that if your company isn’t investing in people and technology necessary to capture, manipulate, and use data, com-

8

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

petitors will grab market share. This goes for the service bureaus creating bills and statements to direct mail marketing agencies, commercial printers, or practically anyone else in the customer communications value chain. Data helps you run your business more efficiently, save money, create effective solutions, track results, and more. Here are a few trends that caught my attention: 1. Gathering consumer preference and behavior data to deliver communications in a channel more likely to get noticed. This effort goes beyond asking customers to choose between paper and electronic document delivery. Organizations are now beginning to watch communication channels for individual customer activity. Some companies are now linking traditional customer contact data like names, postal addresses, and email addresses to social media or web browsing activity. Connecting with data from online sources helps companies build profiles of behavior and interests. This information allows businesses to

2. Matching results from mailing campaigns to customer databases (lead scoring). There’s no reason physical mail activity can’t contribute to customer profile information maintained in CRM or marketing automation systems. Returned mail or addresses unable to receive an IMb barcode should decrease a lead score. Scores for customers who click through from an Informed Delivery campaign, scan a QR code, or visit a PURL would increase. 3. Enhancing mail list data with outside information to enable better segmentation. Determining which prospective customers are most likely to respond to offers and deciding which offer to present is the next step in segmented marketing. The right decision requires extra data about purchase history, web browsing habits, proximity to physical locations, and more to fuel the variable data print engines emitting highly targeted messages. 4. Reinforcing direct mail marketing with internet re-targeting ads. I didn’t even know this was possible. Vendors now claim they can connect internet IP addresses to postal addresses with 90% or better accuracy without relying on browser cookies. Matching is most successful if the mailing file includes an email address or phone number. When companies perform IP matching, advertisers can serve online digital ads to mail recipients before or after physical mail pieces arrive in the homes. This technique reinforces the offer, collects engagement statistics, and fosters brand awareness. Matching can go in the other direction as well, connecting IP addresses of anonymous website visitors to actual postal addresses. Today, organizations can send direct mail triggered by browsing activity. 5. Interpreting USPS data to fix bad addresses (returned mail and ACS). This isn’t a new problem, but discussions conducted in conference sessions


indicate many organizations are still struggling with how to apply address corrections to original data files. Mail service providers are correcting addresses on the fly, and many are providing their customers with updated addresses, but the customers aren’t changing their data files. Service providers correct the same bad addresses time after time until move update records drop off the National Change of Address (NCOA) file. After 48 months, the USPS will deliver the mail to the wrong people or return it to the mailers. New emphasis on enriching data files (see item three above) makes recording address corrections even more critical. Organizations often use standardized postal addresses as match keys to merge data stored in unconnected databases or to append data files with consumer-specific demographic information. Outdated address information thwarts data consolidation efforts. 6. Sending mail to targeted consumers even without an address list (Informed Addressing). Informed Addressing is the newest innovation the USPS has added to the Informed family of features. Mailers will not see this program rolled out nationally for a while; it is just beginning a pilot project. The initial scope for Informed Addressing is modest, but this technology has potential if the Postal Service can encourage enough mailers and consumers to participate. Informed Addressing works with the Informed Delivery database. The USPS will ask Informed Delivery subscribers to select certain categories for which they would like to receive offers. Mailers can request lists of Informed Delivery subscribers that match their selection criteria. Subscribers who showed an interest in fishing, for instance, would populate a data file requested by a mailer of catalogs aimed at outdoor enthusiasts. The USPS supplies coded addresses to the mailer. The actual subscriber names and addresses are not revealed, but the postal carrier can still deliver

the mail to the proper residences. The mailer would add the coded addresses to Full-Service mailing labels and ship the catalogs. Marketers would want to include an Informed Delivery campaign and a call to action, since all the catalog recipients would be Informed Delivery subscribers. Will consumers opt in to receive advertising mail in certain categories of their choice? That remains to be seen. Without consumer participation in the Phase

try professionals can do with printed, personalized communications dominate some of these marketing organizations. Marketers haven’t kept up with technological advances in software, hardware, and systems that make some of the newer benefits of mailed communications possible. They’ve been busy with social media, online search, mobile, and other fast-moving technologies. Print and mail service providers may find reaching out to internal and external

The initial scope for Informed Addressing is modest, but this technology has potential if the Postal Service can encourage enough mailers and consumers to participate. One pilot program, Informed Addressing may not become a viable USPS product. Because it’s based on the Informed Delivery database, continued growth in that program will also affect the success of Informed Addressing. Phase Two of the Informed Addressing project could be more interesting. According to a USPS official, mailers may someday send their list of email addresses to the USPS and receive back coded address records of those consumers whose email addresses match Informed Delivery subscribers. With this feature, mailers could create mailing campaigns to reach Informed Delivery consumers for which they have no postal addresses. The USPS would supply coded address records regardless of consumer opt-in selections. Marketing Agencies Seek Guidance It was surprising to hear representatives from marketing agencies asking for guidance from printers and mailing experts. Digital natives who have little experience with direct mail and aren’t aware of what document indus-

marketing organizations to help them find ways to make print work better for them is a winning strategy. Mail is definitely changing. Data is driving the shifts in mailing practices, and the trend isn’t likely to slow soon. In fact, applications using artificial intelligence (AI) will call for even more complex data manipulation and deployment. The sooner printing and mailing service providers get comfortable in a role where they help their customers use data to their advantage, the better prepared they will be for future growth. If printing companies and mail service providers were to focus on only one thing to improve their businesses over the next 12 to 24 months, I’d recommend they look for ways they can put data to work for themselves and their clients. That seems to be a safe bet.  Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at mporter@printmailconsultants.com.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

9


SOFTWARE BYTE

STEMMING SEAMLESS ACCEPTANCE FEARS BY JEFF PEOPLES

S

eamless Acceptance is designed to streamline the verification, acceptance, payment, and induction of mail. This program has benefits for both mailers and the USPS. Many mailers have adopted Seamless Acceptance and are very happy with the program, especially as they are realizing the benefits in their mailing operations. However, other mailers are hesitant to adopt Seamless Acceptance, mostly due to fears of potential expensive postage assessments for errors. To help stem those fears, let’s review the Seamless Acceptance program and steps mailers can take to avoid potential assessments. Eligibility To participate in this program, mailers must have 90% or more of their mail volume submitted as Full-Service mail. The mail pieces must be uniquely barcoded and submitted electronically (eDoc). If the mailer is preparing Detached Mail Unit (DMU)-verified origin entry or destination entry drop shipments, participation in eInduction is also required. 10

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

Prior to participating in Seamless Acceptance, mailers must participate in an intermediate step called Seamless Parallel. This is essentially a testing period, during which time the mailer works with the USPS to ensure the volume and mail preparation and submission requirements are being met. This is one of the keys to reducing mailers’ fears: Use the Seamless Parallel period to test your quality assurance processes, pinpoint issues for correction, and closely monitor your Mailer Scorecard. How It Works The current process involves manual verification by a USPS acceptance employee prior to entry and finalization. The employee performs a cursory review, collects Full-Service initial verification mail samples, conducts performance-based verification, and finalizes the postage statement. Seamless Acceptance automates this process in the following ways: } The mailer’s eDoc is validated to ensure it meets Seamless Acceptance criteria.

} Postage statements are auto-finalized on the postage statement mailing date. } The Business Mail Entry clerk performs a sampling of the mailing using an Intelligent Mail Device (FS-IMD) by scanning one container, three sacks/trays/bundles, and 30 mail pieces. } Dock clerks scan containers at induction (eInduction). } Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) scans are collected as the mail is processed. } Data collected from the FS-IMD, eInduction, and MPE scans is compared to the eDoc to identify any mail preparation errors. Benefits Seamless Acceptance offers many benefits for participating mailers, such as: } Verifications are performed electronically, reducing complexity } Auto-finalization puts control of postage payment in the mailer’s hands } Allows for longer production cycles } Mailer control over mail release timing without USPS intervention } Improved feedback and identification of trends } Standardized acceptance and verification process (particularly valuable for mailers with multiple sites) } Trend-based verifications measure quality across a calendar month rather than by mailing. Essentially, this all means that your mail verification and acceptance process is much more streamlined, efficient, less time-consuming, and you have more control over the mail release schedule. Mailers should not let their fears of potential assessments prevent them from taking advantage of these benefits. Best Practices to Avoid Assessments The best way to conquer Seamless Acceptance fears is to meet them head-on with proactive best practices to avoid expensive assessments. } Monitor your Mailer Scorecard data daily. Watch for trends and pinpoint


The USPS offers many resources for mailers interested in participating in Seamless Acceptance. Check out the following websites for more information:  The Seamless Acceptance Fact Sheet: https://postalpro.usps.com/seamlessacceptactfactsheet  The Guide to Seamless Acceptance: https://postalpro.usps.com/node/657  The Publication for Streamlined Acceptance of Letters and Flats: https://postalpro.usps.com/StreamlinedMailAcceptLettersFlatsPub685

problem areas for correction early on. Use this data proactively as a source of feedback, and not as a penalty process.  Implement stringent QA processes to provide multiple checkpoints for preventing errors. Review the areas that are validated by the USPS as part of Seamless Acceptance and focus on putting QA processes in place specific to those areas.  Implement a comprehensive logging process to track the generation of all unique Intelligent Mail barcodes. This may seem like overkill, but this is your best defense against undocumented

mail pieces, which is one of the most feared assessments.  Perform routine audits of your QA processes and tweak or update them as necessary. Also, these audits make sure that your staff are properly following these processes.  Work closely with the USPS and ask for help. The USPS has a vested interest in making Seamless Acceptance work smoothly; their goal is properly prepared mail, not penalties.  Work with your software providers and other suppliers to utilize tools and/or expertise in streamlining your mailing

workflow, implementing QA processes, and researching Mailer Scorecard data. Seamless Acceptance does not have to be a scary thing; educate yourself and take advantage of many available resources to help you adopt this beneficial program.  Jeff Peoples is President, Founder, and CEO, Window Book, Inc. He has presented 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 | JULY-AUGUST 2019

11


CONNECTING POINT being opened until the carrier’s case was had no piece scans whatsoever. As a result, large volume co-mailed flat mailings, with a high enhanced carrier route or high-density concentration, experienced very low scan rates and provided little value to the mailer. No wonder many flat mailers simply gave up.

CLOSING THE VISIBILITY GAPS IN FLAT MAIL TRACKING BY ANITA PURSLEY

I

nformed Visibility (IV) was launched in early 2018 to provide near realtime reporting data within the mail stream for both the Postal Service and the mailing industry. The Postal Service’s ultimate goal is to provide all of our data needs through IV; the program will be the “end all, be all,” so to speak. As evidence, the Postal Service has already incorporated Mail Quality Data (MQD) reports into IV and is in the process of integrating with the Enterprise Payment System (EPS). The roadmap is quite extensive. So, let’s take a closer look at IV-Mail Tracking and Reporting (IV-MTR). When the legacy IMb Tracing program was retired at the end of 2017, there were approximately 1,700 IMb Tracing customers. Today, the Postal Service has almost twice as many, with over 3,200 total IV-MTR users. Why such an increase in the number of users? One reason is that while IMb Tracing provided an average of 265 million scan events daily, IV-MTR provides over 1.5 billion scan events every single day. IV-MTR provides almost real-time mail tracking data for First-Class, Periodicals, and Marketing Mail letters and flats. But are letters and flats the same value prop-

12

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

osition? A customer recently said to me, “I gave up on tracking flats a long time ago.” There is no doubt that letter mail tracking results in higher scan rates, but the Postal Service is making strides in tracking flat mail, which makes it worth a second look. Closing the gaps in visibility is a primary objective to enhance the product offering.

The IV-MTR Difference What’s different about IV-MTR is that the application leverages the intelligence of Full-Service Intelligent Mail and nesting associations to create assumed handling events. Scan events are linked with a mailer’s electronic documentation (eDocs) so that a pallet scan, for example, correlates with the pieces on the pallet. The same holds true for bundles and sacks. This feature alone has provided significant improvements in the visibility of flat mailings. The application also offers logical handling events, which provide you with an understanding of where your mail is without the need for a physical scan. For example, IV-MTR leverages GPS tracking information from carrier handheld scanners to create logical delivery events. Once a carrier enters a geofence, mailers have a greater confidence level regarding actual delivery to the mailbox. In the not-too-distant future, new exciting features will be added, including predicted delivery dates (PDD), disruptive events indicators for weather or disaster related events, and scan events from ring scanners to add visibility into manual operations. As the Postal Service continues its focus on closing the visibility gaps, flat mailers will find more and more value in mail tracking. 

Since IMb Tracing only tracked pieces, flat mail that never touched a piece of automation equipment had no visibility. Since IMb Tracing only tracked pieces, flat mail that never touched a piece of automation equipment had no visibility. Therefore, a carrier route bundle that traveled through the system without

As Senior Manager of Industry Affairs at BCC Software, Anita Pursley is entrenched in major industry events and associations, representing BCC Software and advocating on behalf of its customers. She has a breadth of industry experience and expertise, including serving for two years as the Industry Co-Chair of the Postmaster General’s Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) and similar roles at some of the industry’s largest and most influential companies.


INKJET INFO

IMPLEMENTING INKJET WITH PROFIT IN MIND BY PAT MCGREW

I

nkjet is a mature technology that began as a solution to mark cartons, add addressing information to marketing mail, and spray variable data on to offset print. In the early days, the print quality didn’t meet the requirements for commercial printing, but over the last decade, the technology has made the transition from low-resolution marking to high-quality, sellable commercial and transactional print. Today, you can select an inkjet solution that meets your investment needs, print quality needs, speed/capacity needs, and your desire for roll-fed or sheet-fed production. There are monochrome-only solutions, process color solutions, and an increasing number of four-color-plus inkjet presses opening the door to expanded options, and the addition of specialty inks, such as UV fluorescing inks or MICR inks, to meet the needs of printers in most print segments. Inkjet options have become so expansive that printers utilizing or examining the technology have the greatest number of potential solutions we have seen in the market. Picking the best solution requires a critical look at both the inkjet machines available as well as the nature of the print business you plan to support. In many cases, the hardware vendors have lots of information on the technical specifications, what paper their devices support, and even some total cost of operation information. That said, they may not have

information about how a specific device will support products needed in specific industry verticals or help for printers who want to create differentiated products for the industry segments they serve.

machine. Moving a new inkjet device in to augment or replace existing toner printing options can create capacity in the plant, but again, unless that capacity is sold responsibly, there may not be enough profit to cover the costs of the new machine. Lastly, moving an inkjet device in to augment or replace offset presses also impacts capacity planning, job scheduling, the type of work that can be sold, and how it can be priced. For every printer looking carefully at what inkjet technology can bring to their print production, consider doing a careful assessment of your business plans, the products you support, your finishing capacity, and your actual capacity needs. How much additional capacity can you fill if you buy a faster machine? What additional products could you bring to your portfolio with higher resolution capability? How will you adjust your pricing policies to account for the costs associated with supporting inkjet printing? These are only a few of the questions, but even with these, any printer should be able to create realistic key performance indicators to test against as they look at adopting inkjet. It is a great technology that can open many options, but it does take planning. 

Adopting an inkjet device will not magically reduce costs, expand substrate capabilities, or implement new products on its own. Adopting an inkjet device will not magically reduce costs, expand substrate capabilities, or implement new products on its own. That takes work on your part, the buyer of the device, your sales and marketing teams, your production teams, and your selected vendors (who should be supporting you throughout your implementation and transition to inkjet). Furthermore, moving an older inkjet device out and bringing a newer one in might bring more capacity, high resolution (with its implied better print quality), and a greater range of substrate options, but it also may not bring more profit unless every touchpoint in your business is prepared for the capabilities of the new

Pat McGrew is Senior Director, Production Services, Keypoint Intelligence. If you have stories to share, reach out to her by contacting @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or Pat. McGrew@KeypointIntelligence.com.

Turn the page to discover some of the top inkjet solution providers in the industry.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

13


SPONSORED CONTENT

a

ARE YOU READY TO IMPLEMENT INKJET?

As Pat McGrew highlighted in our “Inkjet Info” column on the previous page, simply deciding to implement inkjet is not enough. It’s important to have a planned process and strategy in mind, and one of the most valuable resources you can have to aid you during this time is the help of an industry expert. Below are some of the top names in the inkjet industry; consider reaching out to one of them as you continue on your inkjet journey.

a

BUSKRO

Buskro has over 25 years designing and manufacturing inkjet printers. When you need the most innovative inkjet imaging equipment, the highest quality transport systems, and powerful system control, Buskro has a solution that is right for your production requirements. Innovation is the key to everything we sell. Our philosophy of using the latest technology along with open architecture allows our products to expand with you as your business grows and demands change. From our earliest days as a manufacturer of mailing equipment, Buskro has been the innovator. We pioneered a Windows-based controller for DOD inkjet in 1990, and we haven’t stopped there. Compose IQ software is the result of years of continuous refinement, and its ability to manage data and synchronize print across multiple print heads and zones is unsurpassed in the industry. Buskro engineers pay careful attention to the interaction between system elements in order to ensure consistent and outstanding print results. All of our designs feature heavy-duty construction from top to bottom, as well as precision components that promote years of trouble-free operation. All the components of our inkjet printing systems are designed and manufactured on-site, ensuring the highest quality and extensive testing to meet your exact printing needs. With Buskro, you can add performance and production capabilities easily as your 14

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

needs change without having to invest in new equipment. That’s why the mail and print industry has turned to Buskro for over 25 years for critical personalization and inkjet printing equipment. www.buskro.com

a

CARTRIDGE RECYCLING CENTER (CRC)

The Cartridge Recycling Center (CRC) provides an easy and profitable way to recycle those empty inkjet addressing cartridges you may have been accumulating. We pay $2.00 for cartridges that have not been refilled and $.75 for cartridges that have been refilled. We also guarantee that we beat any other company’s buyback pricing. Cartridge Recycling Center makes it easy to recycle your cartridges by providing prepaid UPS labels to send in your cartridges for quantities of 40 pieces or more. Upon arrival, Cartridge Recycling Center inspects each cartridge for reusability and issues a payment along with a complete receiving report within three business days from the time the cartridges arrive. Cartridge Recycling Center has been in the inkjet recycling business since 1999 and was started in the owner’s garage like many new start-ups. At that time, the desktop ink cartridges were the newest rage, and CRC developed a charity recycling program for any non-profit organization to recycle empty desktop models for money for their non-profit organization.

At one point, CRC had over 10,000 charities participating across the country. Since then, CRC has grown into a 12,000-square foot processing facility. As desktop ink use declined with the advent of smart phones and tablets, CRC has moved into commercial inkjet recycling sector using the same approach of making recycling easy and profitable for our suppliers. CRC, however, continues its charity recycling program in addition to focusing on the commercial side of inkjet recycling. www.crcinkjets.com

a

INKCARTRIDGESETC.COM

InkCartridgesETC.com is an online wholesale distributor of genuine HP thermal inkjet cartridges and long-time OEM partner with HP Specialty Printing Systems. As a wholesale supplier, they fully stock, in their warehouse, everything on the website. All of their HP products are original, BRAND NEW cartridges. They believe only original HP cartridges and ink provide the best, most consistent, reliable performance over other manufacturers and refill/ re-manufactured suppliers. They also offer inks from General Ink Company and have developed their own line of specially formulated ink, from a major manufacturer, under their ETC Brand. Their products are designed for use in the mailing, packaging, and industrial inkjet industries. The products featured on their site are in stock and will be shipped the same day if received by 3:00 pm (EST) or the next business day if received later. Orders over $200 will ship for FREE. They are committed to offering the industries they serve with the lowest cost on any HP products along with outstanding service and value. Visit www. inkcartridgesETC.com and enter discount code MST2019 at checkout for a 10% discount off your first order. www.inkcartridgesETC.com


a

NEOPOST USA

One of the many things that Neopost USA is known for is our exceptional inkjet solutions. We have a vast line of inkjet digital printers, so finding one to fit a specific application is quite effortless. Whether it is a simple short run job or a large production-sized run, we have the hardware to get the job done. From small family-owned print shops to large corporations, we have the experts that can determine which of our printers will best suit the needs of the customer. We provide solutions for the typical monochrome address printing needs, such as return address and mailing address printing, as well as Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) printing. These types of printers are high-speed and use the Hewlett Packard Thermal Inkjet 45-A style cartridges with a wide variety of different inks to choose from. They can also handle variable data jobs with ease, saving time and money on big mailings. Clear the warehouse clutter and only print when and what you need with Neopost’s full-color digital inkjet printers with Memjet® technology. Produce brilliant images at high speeds and impressive quality, all at a low total cost of ownership. From marketing materials to envelope address printing, these workhorse machines are built to last. These printers are ideal for graphics and variable data and can even go beyond the envelope and print on material for the packaging market. www.neopostusa.com

a

RISO

“Color printing is a luxury: our organization or institution will limit or sometimes ban it all together.” This is the type of comment we hear all the time when meeting with offices, schools, and print shops. Can you imagine limiting color in this day and age because of the flawed perception that color is exponentially more expensive than monochrome? That may be true with toner, but it is certainly not the case with Inkjet. RISO inkjet printers take the power and economy of large roll fed devices and package it into a manageable sized, cut-sheet unit that fits most spaces. It also allows people mired in a world of black and white printing to affordably migrate to color with minimal impact to the print budget. No heat! This is what allows RISO to print on all size envelopes, including win-

dow envelopes. You never have to worry about a melting substrate, and you can add all the variable data and marketing to the face of that envelope. With its revolutionary heatless imaging process and straight paper path, output from the RISO ComColor Inkjet is cold, flat, and dry, eliminating static and paper curl. This is a feature that your inserter folder will embrace and is sure to improve productivity. Compact, reliable RISO printers are ideal for variable data communications, transactional documents, direct mail, shells, numbered NCR forms, and envelopes. Isn’t it time you made RISO a part of your inkjet strategy? us.riso.com

a

THINK INK

What is ISOP? A few years ago, Think Ink noticed a large void of uncertainty between inkjet systems, substrates, and the ink to print on them. Ink was almost an afterthought for some equipment buyers. That largely overlooked void is being largely diminished with ISOP, or Ink Stock Optimization Process. Think Ink analyzes the customers’ substrates and challenges, then tests many ink formulas to see which ones yield the best results and match the customer’s specific requirements. Printed samples are sent back to the customer, along with a report of the results and other considerations (costs, variations, decap, colors, settings, etc.). How does it work? Customers simply send their substrates and inkjet requirements (darkness, speeds, dpi, etc.) for analysis and print sample production. The customer’s goal may be to find an ink formula that is more permanent on PVC cards that will constantly go in and out of a wallet. Perhaps the goal is to find an ink that produces dark barcodes without offsetting onto the previous piece at high production speeds. Guesswork is eliminated, and proven results are introduced to customers. The Operations Manager or Quality Control person can see for themselves that a particular ink formula can actually meet those specific needs that had been enormous challenges prior to ISOP. As technologies, substrates, and coatings constantly change, ink providers must keep up with the changes, and fill the void between hardware, substrate, and ink solution. ISOP fills that void! www.thinkink.com

a

WHITTIER MAILING PRODUCTS

Since 1989, Whittier Mailing Products (WMP) has been the premier supplier for mail service providers. From the iconic Barcode tagger to the largest supplier of wafer seal tabs and tray tags, Whittier listens to our customers’ needs. We introduced our line of addressing ink in 2015, and now, thousands of customers rely on WMP for their daily addressing needs. ISO certification gives you the peace of mind that we have strict guidelines for our production and ink quality. WMP offers different formulas for everything from newsprint to high-gloss materials along with spot colors. WMP also carries various OEM inks. For over 30 years, we have offered our 100% guarantee because we know the pressures you face as a mail producer. With our free samples, you can test our formulas inhouse and have a risk-free experience the moment you buy. We also buy back your empty new or reman cartridges at great prices, and we cover the shipping back, which will help you lower your addressing ink costs. Calls us at 888.872.9824 or email sales@wmp.net for samples. Mention code WMP30 for your free samples. www.wmpwebstore.com

FEATURED INKJET SOLUTION PROVIDERS BUSKRO www.buskro.com CARTRIDGE RECYCLING CENTER (CRC) www.crcinkjets.com INKCARTRIDGESETC.COM www.inkcartridgesETC.com NEOPOST USA www.neopostusa.com RISO us.riso.com THINK INK www.thinkink.com WHITTIER MAILING PRODUCTS www.wmpwebstore.com

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

15




MACHINE LEARNING IN THE MAIL CENTER Instead of fearing that our digital counterparts will replace us in the mail center, we should be embracing the benefits they can provide for our operation.

F

or far too long, machines have been viewed as the enemy. In movies, they are the culprit behind our eventual doom, and at work, they are rumored to be our eventual replacements. Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies has it right. She understands the value behind incorporating machines into our everyday lives, stating, “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can, too.” The unknown future is indeed barreling at us, but now we are ready to embrace machines to aide us. Machine learning is not a brand-new concept. It was over 20 years ago that an IBM supercomputer, known as Deep Blue, 18

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

beat Russian chess grandmaster, Garry Kasparov, in the first formal chess game. Teaching computers to learn and think like a living thing is merely the first step. Once computers are taught to learn, they will be able to complete tasks. This is where we see the benefits for the mail center. Embracing Digital Advancements We’ve seen mail centers start to make the move to be more digital, but what exactly does that mean? It means that mail center staff are no longer physically delivering mail to recipients; each piece is being scanned and electronically delivered. Now, we’re not talking about a person sitting there, opening each letter you receive and laughing as they read the nicknames from our loved ones. This is an automated

process completed using optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which is the use of technology to “read” handwritten text inside digital images of documents. Text recognition, as it is more commonly known, allows for the text characters to be translated into code that can be used for data processing. In this specific use case, people are removed from the physical process to increase efficiency, increase security, and they are redistributed to tasks that are deemed more important and/or require a human touch. This process can even be taken a step further by implementing another step in the “reading” process. Identify specific keywords for the database to flag to take specific actions on a piece of mail. For instance, all invoices are to be sent to the


By Bruce E. Little

Accounts Payable department. If the database picks up the word “invoice,” it will automatically flag that piece of mail to be sent to Accounts Payable. Machine learning is also incredibly useful for fuzzy matching on the database side of mail and package processing. Fuzzy matching is used to link similar data together even if they are not a 100% match. For example, a letter may be addressed to Jon Smith at SCLogic, but his official record in the database is Jonathan Smith at Supply Chain Logic. Fuzzy matching recognizes that the name and company are similar and will match them together without any human interference, saving mail center operators time and eliminating errors. This application is particularly useful when utilizing the UPS or FedEx API integrations for incoming packages. One of the biggest advantages of machine learning is that the computer never stops learning; the more data it collects, the better it gets at analyzing and streamlining processes. The algorithms

are constantly being fine-tuned to execute workflows more efficiently. With the help of machine learning, databases can recognize datasets faster and come to predetermined decisions sooner, freeing up mail center employees for more labor-intensive tasks. Machine learning isn’t completely foreign to any of us. As consumers, we interact with machines daily, whether it’s our opponent on our online poker game or the chat bot we’re messaging for technical support for our smart watch. If implemented properly, machine learning can save your mail center a great deal of time and make your processes more efficient.  Bruce E. Little is Vice President of Emerging Markets, SCLogic. In this role, he is responsible for developing international business as well as managing channel partners. He has over 20 years of experience in the mail and package tracking industry, including owning his own business, MBL Data Systems. Bruce has presented at many industry conferences such as NPF, IFMA, and NACUMS.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

19


By Angelo Anagnostopoulos

INFORMED VISIBILITY: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT PROVIDES, AND WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT

D

uring Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan’s keynote address at this year’s National Postal Forum (NPF), she spoke about digital’s potential and the Postal Service’s commitment to innovation. One example of this commitment to innovation is Informed Visibility (IV), and it’s important that mailers 20

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

fully understand the benefits this offering provides to mailers and the industry. What Is IV? Informed Visibility is a repository that provides the Postal Service and industry users with end-to-end visibility — from acceptance to delivery — of letters and flat mail pieces as these items move through

the Postal Service network. It was originally envisioned as a single source for mail tracking information for industry mailers. IV is the product of three legacy postal platforms: } Confirm/IMb Tracing, which gave visibility into letters and flats and provided raw data, either via a download or through an FTP push subscription.


} Mail.XML messaging, which gave visibility for trays and containers and provided push, pull, or data download. This platform had latency issues and was recently retired. } A Bundle Visibility Pilot, which paved the way to IV. Essentially, IV was built because the Postal Service needed an event-driven, near real-time internal service performance measurement for mail to replace the existing reporter system. This changed measurement from a sampling view to a census view. IV was also built to manage and improve Postal Service operations. The previous IMb Tracing system was at the end of its life and the Postal Service, along with the industry as a whole, wanted to improve the latency of data, such as container and handling unit data. Closing the Visibility Gap Today’s IV helps to fill in visibility gaps by providing insight into the mail stream —

insight that was not previously available at the detail that is collected today. This additional insight is done through two primary ways: assumed and logical delivery events. For example, with assumed events, when a mail aggregate (like a container) receives a scan, IV creates assumed events for all nested handling units, bundles, and pieces. Meanwhile, for logical events, IV could use GPS tracking information (geolocation) from carriers’ handheld scanners to create logical delivery events that provide insight into when mail is delivered. This is done without the need for a physical scan, making it a game changer for coordinating omnichannel campaigns. Internally, IV provides the Postal Service workforce with critical operational insight into service performance measurement, mail inventory and predictive workload, and dynamic route optimization. Externally, the Informed Visibility Mail Tracking & Reporting (IV-MTR) is available to the mailing industry for free as a web application and, recently, as an API. IV-MTR enables mailers to receive powerful, data-driven, near real-time information about the location of their mail. Previously, to get broad spectrum insight into mail, industry mailers had to collect information from several systems. For example, piece and bundle visibility information came from the legacy IMb Tracing application, and container and tray visibility information came through Mail. XML. Today, about a year and a half after its launch, IV provides mailers with endto-end visibility as pieces, containers, handling units, and bundles travel through the mail stream, all from a single system. Every day, IV processes massive amounts of data — much more data than the other Postal Service systems that provide real-time visibility. For example, there are 1.2 billion product tracking and reporting (such as for parcels) transactions per day. In comparison, there are 200 billion Informed Visibility transactions per day. What IV Provides IV provides multiple file formats ranging from legacy PKG (only for bundles and pieces) to JSON. Users can choose from a variety of delivery methods, such as having data pushed through a secure FTP or a web service. IV-MTR provides data in near real time; users can decide at what frequency to

receive IV mail tracking data, whether that’s hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. In addition, IV provides Mailer Quality Data (MQD) and Enterprise Payment System (EPS) Data. In the future, you will be able to access additional data, such as post-campaign data, as well. There is a powerful data delegation model built in to allow flexible provisioning of data to multiple parties. If you are a mail service provider, the Postal Service’s Data Delegation Request form makes it easy to delegate the mail tracking visibility data to you. Why You Should Use IV First, IV is increasing the value of mail and enabling mailers to better plan their mailing campaigns, staffing, and product inventory. Second, IV connects customers to their data and delivers access to mailing information, whether they’re on a computer or on a mobile device. Finally, IV creates multi-channel marketing opportunities that enable mailers to engage with customers in near real time, creating event-driven, transformative mail moments where the digital experience and the physical world are connected in powerful new ways Functionality, such as MQD enhancements, was recently added, giving mailers complete visibility into all of the errors on the Mailer Scorecard to allow corrective action, improving the quality of mail and reducing costs. Future functionality enhancements planned for IV will provide mailers with even more information to improve their operations. Some examples are package visibility, enhanced tracking of Certified Mail for Letters and Flats, Informed Delivery post-campaign data, ACS and secure destruction data, Informed Delivery data, and intelligence into mail disruptions events (such as weather) with an operational status indicator. As you can see, Informed Visibility does more than the Postal Service’s legacy systems that you might be familiar with. IV is a central repository and data broker for a variety of high-volume Postal Service data — not just scan events. It’s time to see what IV can do for you — in today’s omni-channel world, usage is a must.  Angelo Anagnostopoulos is VP Postal Affairs, GrayHair Software. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

21


DIRECT MAIL IN THE DIGITAL AGE: How the Power of Print Can Help Convert Readers to Customers

By Eric Hawkinson

A

ll too commonly, people seem to think that because we are living in a digital world — one churning with AI, augmented reality, and other technological advancements coming at us at the speed of light — that print must be dead, as well as any means of marketing communication that utilize the print medium by association. But that could not be further from the truth. In fact, according to the recently released Canon Print for Action survey, which was conducted by independent third-party research company Ipsos, 69% of Americans surveyed reported feeling overwhelmed by the 22

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

constant barrage of digital information, and 55% of Americans surveyed said that printed direct mailers are more influential from a print perspective and carry more weight than newer mediums like online petitions and podcasts. We hear a common argument that millennials are “glued to their phones,” but print continues to permeate and influence their everyday decisions. We see it, and feel the power of its influence, everywhere — from business cards exchanged during a meeting of the minds to a mail brochure advertising a brand’s latest campaign. Print is one of the most effective mediums both a person and brand can use to communi-

cate, and direct mail is one vehicle with which to accomplish that. Here are three trends that are critical for brands and marketing teams to consider when working with the art of print as they strive to convert readers to digital leads, and digital leads to customers. Power in Print Personalization Personalization can help drive customer loyalty and engagement, and it can also be a key factor in improving the effectiveness of direct mail, according to research from Keypoint Intelligence. In fact, about half of respondents to the Keypoint survey stated that they spent much more time reviewing


direct mail and direct marketing campaigns when they were personalized and relevant. The art of personalization can be accomplished through something as simple as incorporating the mail recipient’s name in various components of the print communication to an elevated approach that truly reflects the individual consumer’s preferences, needs, and behaviors throughout the print content. Inkjet devices can be another cost-effective solution essential to printing high-value, personalized direct mail pieces intended for mass distribution. It’s All in the Touch: A Look at Specialty Finishing Print finishing specialties can help elevate a brand’s messaging by providing customers with a high-quality look and feel. Whether it be something as simple as adding a high-quality sheen to the pages to raising certain text blocks for emphasis, it is an added measure that can help elevate

the print message to the next level. And in a world where 63% of millennials report being more likely to select a bottle of wine based on the visual appeal of the label and packaging, it can make all the difference! Digital and Print: Marry the Two with Augmented Reality There is no rigid dichotomy between digital and print. Both can, and need to, exist together. In fact, more than 80% of Americans surveyed said that they just scroll past digital ads when they are online, with more than half citing that they are more likely to notice a print ad than an online ad. Incorporating solutions and technology that allows for innovative augmented reality (AR) or artificial intelligence (AI) features to play a hand in print projects can ultimately help mailers expand the scope of their target audiences. It could be something as simple as sending out a direct mail invitation to attend an upcoming product unveiling, and then utilizing an AR

PRINT FINISHING SPECIALTIES CAN HELP ELEVATE A BRAND’S MESSAGING BY PROVIDING CUSTOMERS WITH A HIGHQUALITY LOOK AND FEEL. application to direct readers to a video or 3D animation through an interactive mobile experience. Direct mail is evolving in the digital age. So long as today’s brands continue to play to print’s strengths and utilize the proper tools and technologies available on the market today to help communicate with impact, it only seems likely that its impact will strengthen in the years that follow.  Eric Hawkinson is Senior Director, Canon U.S. A., Inc.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

23


WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE TO DROP 2019 is halfway done, but when it comes to postal reform, it seems that more questions remain unanswered than ever. By Kathleen Siviter

I

t’s hard to believe that 2019 is more than half over… and even harder to believe that so many postal policy, regulatory, and legislative “shoes” are still up in the air! A year ago, the mailing industry was primarily waiting for one shoe to drop — the 10-year review of the postal ratemaking system by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Flash forward to a year later, and while we are still waiting, several other shoes are also poised to drop. Not surprisingly, the mailing industry is starting to wonder not only which shoe might drop first, but whether those who may drop a shoe are 24

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

thinking about the collective impact on the industry should more than one shoe drop without adjusting for the others. Let me explain, since at this point, readers are probably imagining a mountain of shoes stacked up to the sky! The 10-Year Ratemaking System Review by the PRC To keep my shoe analogy going, I’m going to liken each of these potential activities to a kind of shoe. For the PRC’s 10-year review, I would compare it to a handmade, old-fashioned, leather shoe, but with a few innovative “smart shoe” features. It is hand-

made because it is a slow-moving process, not a cookie-cutter approach to a complex set of problems. It can be characterized as old-fashioned because it largely relies on a solution the USPS has used too often in years past (just raise postage rates to stem the USPS’ financial issues) even though this solution is one that the PRC may feel it lacks the regulatory power to change. Not to mention, there is the likelihood that more aggressive decreases in mail volume would follow. But this does have a few “smart shoe” features in that the PRC attempts to bring some new innovations in its proposed approach, like increases in postage rates


linked to the USPS increasing productivity and not reducing service, or better price incentives for more efficient mail preparation/entry behaviors through workshare incentives that pass through a better percent of the avoided costs. The PRC initiated its review process in December 2016, concluded that the current ratemaking system is not meeting the objectives in the law (as set forth in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, or PAEA, which was enacted in 2006), and proposed changes to the current ratemaking system. The PRC issued its proposed changes in late 2017 and called for comments from the USPS and stakeholders through March 2018. Since that time, the PRC has not put forward a next step in the process. Many in the industry feel that the PRC’s next likely move will be to publish another set of proposed changes to the ratemaking system and respond to comments received on its last proposals. Another comment period is likely, and the PRC still needs to issue a final decision and imple-

mentation timeline. It is likely that the PRC will move on a next step sometime in 2019, though it may have some resource constraints over the next few months due to the work it needs to do around the possibility that the United States will leave the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and move to self-declared international postage rates (for more on this, check out MailingSystemsTechnology.com/UPU). The President’s Task Force on the Postal Service I liken this activity to Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from The Wizard of Oz because after reading many recommendations in the report, many want to click their heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home,” to get back to familiar and secure territory. Many of these recommendations would require legislative change, and many of those items that do not require legislation are still perceived as too revolutionary or risky to the future of the USPS and mailing industry. The Task Force issued its report in fall of 2018 and to date, both the House

and Senate have held one hearing where the recommendations were discussed. Some of the recommendations require legislative change and can only be made through Congressional action, but other recommendations could be implemented through actions by the USPS, the PRC, or both. It remains to be seen whether either agency will attempt to advance some of those recommendations, but the USPS is working on a 10-year plan, which it was poised to submit to Congress in early July as of this writing, so it will be interesting to see what actions it is contemplating. Postal Reform Legislation I liken postal reform legislation to Elvis’ blue suede shoes because all the various stakeholders that need to agree in order for postal reform to be enacted are adamant that a bill does not step on their blue suede shoes. While there was tentative agreement among the USPS, its employee organizations, and the mailing industry on a postal reform bill aired in the last Congress, any significant changes to

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

25


that bill — which have a habit of cropping up in discussions — run the risk of losing support from one stakeholder or another. There are also much bigger political issues afoot in the US than what to do about the USPS’ finances. The House Committee that has oversight of the USPS also has oversight of the rest of the government and is the main “investigative” committee in the House, which means there are a lot of big issues the committee is working on. The Senate committee that oversees postal is the chief oversight committee in the Senate and also has primary oversight for the Department of Homeland Security, so the same applies. And given our current political climate in the US, there are challenges for any bipartisan legislation moving in this Congress. So while the industry, the USPS employee organizations, and the USPS continue to educate and discuss the need for comprehensive postal reform to address the USPS’ financial situation with members of Congress, it is an uphill battle to keep their focus on postal with so many competing issues. USPS Governors & PRC Commissioners I liken this to what I would call “sneakers” but my Brit husband calls “trainers,” because there are more varieties and versions in this shoe class than any other. Some are great for running, some for walking, some for specific sports, etc. The individuals that serve on the USPS Board of Governors and the PRC have the power to transform the direction of strategic or regulatory initiatives — the right mix of business experience and innovative thinking can help the USPS be a runner within the industry, but the wrong mix can leave it walking a slow pace while others sprint ahead. The USPS Board of Governors is responsible for guiding the USPS’ strategic direction as well as setting policies and approving officer compensation and selection of the Postmaster General. The USPS Board has not been at full complement (nine Governors, the PMG, and the Deputy PMG) in many years. Currently, there are two Governors, but two more have been nominated by the President and are waiting to be confirmed by the Senate. The two Governors who came on board in fall of 2018 are already working hard to guide the Postal Service’s strategic direction for the future, and the two nominees waiting in the wings both have experience in the financial sector, so if they are confirmed and selected, that 26

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

would mean three out of four USPS Governors would be from a financial background. The PRC has five appointed commissioners (a fifth was selected in January 2019), but two of those have terms that will expire in November/December of 2019. A replacement for one of the departing commissioners has been nominated by the President, but no confirmation hearing has yet been held and no nomination has yet been made for the other departing commissioner. The timing of the movement and the new incoming commissioners could have an impact on how the agency proceeds on its 10-year review process as well as other proceedings. 2020 Price Change This is where the shoe rubber meets the road, so to speak. The question mailers keep asking themselves is, how will any or all of the above impact the next USPS pricing change, which is likely to occur in January 2020? I guess I would liken this activity to a pair of Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks… because it could be very expensive for some.

impact which shoe will drop, whether more than one shoe will drop and when, and how hard it will land. The mailing industry feels it is critical that all these separate initiatives do not act in isolation — that each allows for the impact the other may have. If postal reform legislation were passed with a 2.14% postage increase, for example, then any decision from the PRC on changes to the ratemaking system must take that increase into account when analyzing the USPS’ financial picture going forward. And vice versa holds true as well; if the PRC were to implement changes that include significant postage price increases, then any postal reform legislation would need to consider those changes and the impact on the USPS’ finances. Any movement to implement recommendations from the President’s Task Force must also consider any changes made from these other activities. We can only hope that the architects of these various postal policy, legislative, and regulatory changes do not act without an approach that considers the impacts from all sides and takes that into account

The USPS Board of Governors and PRC commissioners, as well as 535 members of Congress, can impact which shoe will drop, whether more than one shoe will drop and when, and how hard it will land. The last draft of a postal reform bill that made it out of the House in 2018 included a 2.14% postage rate increase (across the board). The PRC’s last published proposals in its 10-year ratemaking system review included significant postage price increases (more for some categories of mail than for others). The President’s Task Force report included many recommendations that do not require legislation that could have a significant impact on postage rates (as well as those that do require legislation, which also could have a significant impact). And the USPS Board of Governors and PRC commissioners, as well as 535 members of Congress, can

to prevent a destruction of the mailing industry and Postal Service each may be trying to save. ¾ Kathleen J. Siviter is Asst. Executive Director of the National Association of Presort Mailers (NAPM) as well President of Postal Consulting Services Inc. (PCSi), and she has over 30 years’ experience in the postal industry. She has worked for the U.S. Postal Service, Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), and others, as well as providing consulting services to a diverse set of clients with interest in the postal industry. She also works with PostalVision 2020, an initiative designed to engage stakeholders in discussions about the future of the American postal system.


APPLICATION ARTICLE

JOIN THE SHIFT TO INKJET Did anyone see this coming? Millennials respond to direct mail in higher numbers than previous generations. In fact, the US Postal Service tells us that 64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than through emails. Is this not the Digital Generation? The same group that was to embrace everything paperless is in fact driving the resurgence of mail. It should not come as a surprise when you consider that our ability to recall information is 70% higher if the message stems from direct mail rather than a digital ad. Those in the business of reaching out to a targeted group by way of the printed word can be as demanding as

their intended audience. The need for speed, color and reliability has never been greater, which may explain the growing shift to inkjet over the past 10 years. The technology is offered in several shapes and sizes, but one constant inkjet characteristic is the cold, flat, and dry output. Inkjet printed material is super friendly to all collating, folding, and inserting devices and yields the type of reliability that is further driving the growth of inkjet. RISO has been manufacturing cutsheet, production inkjet devices for about 15 years and is now on its 6th generation. The current series is capable of printing at speeds of 160 full color pages per minute (9600 letter-size pages per hour) at an operating cost that will fit most budgets. RISO in fact is the answer to all those who claim, “color printing is a luxury, our organization will limit or ban the use of color printing.” Hard

to imagine it’s 2019 and we still have large segments of the business mailing community who view color printing as an extravagance. Variable data statements, once encumbered with the tedious 2-step process of printing monochrome toner onto a pre-printed shell, are now converting to a singlestep RISO workflow that is savings hours of labor, storage space and production dollars. The envelope has begun its own migration from offset to inkjet. The heatless design of RISO inkjet allows for envelopes of all sizes to be printed at a cost of about $13 per 1000. Not only will RISO help you develop a new revenue stream from those customers looking to increase response rates, but the heatless design makes it a perfect technology for window envelopes as well. For those looking to streamline their entire mailing process, RISO offers the industry’s first print-to-mail solution that converts a three-step process into one-step that can print, fold and seal your direct mail pieces all in one pass. All of which begs the question … isn’t it time you make RISO part of your Inkjet Strategy? Andre D’Urbano Director of Dealer Sales & Corporate Marketing RISO, Inc. 800 District Ave, Suite 390 Burlington, MA 01803 Marketing@riso.com Us.riso.com/mst


OPTIMIZE YOUR CARRIER SPENDS ACROSS YOUR ORGANIZATION By Adam Lewenberg

Here are some best practices to ensure that your organization’s shipping spend isn’t bleeding your company dry.

W

hen most people refer to carrier spends, they are speaking of the packages that are generated from specific warehouses or shipping departments and sent out into the supply chain by dedicated and trained staff. But there are many organizations that could potentially have hundreds to thousands of locations that need to be managed as the company attempts to control their carrier cost as it relates to package shipping. Most of this spend never touches a shipping center, is not a core shipping function (for example, documents, samples, computers, etc.), and will be processed by end users with little experience. This creates unique challenges and opportunities for savings that often get missed.

At a corporate level, many organizations will use a third-party company to audit their carrier bills, looking for late shipments or items that do not adhere to their contract. Some entities may also use a service to help negotiate their rates. Where we see the biggest gap is in the way the spend is managed inside the organization, which is also the area that can have the largest impact on costs. Administrative Challenges We can divide most organizations into three themes of oversight: centralized, decentralized, or hybrid. ď ˝ Centralized: A carrier-provided (UPS CampusShip or Fedex.com) or multi-carrier acquired system is in place to manage the users and shipping trans-


actions. This will have an administrator who controls the users and locations. ď ˝ Decentralized: Locations will sign up their own accounts on the carrier websites and manage remotely. ď ˝ Hybrid: A centralized system is in place at a headquarters or a group of locations, but many are not included and will manage their spends in a decentralized fashion. Generally, the centralized oversight approach provides the best opportunity for savings. However, regardless of the oversight method, there are the same challenges that need to be managed. Challenge #1: Account Management Organizations manage their carriers by either having one account and different cost centers by location or, more commonly, having separate accounts by location rolling up to one main carrier number. This can get out of hand quickly. As an

example, we have one client who, prior to us starting with them, had over 5,000 carrier accounts to manage 2,000 locations. Best Practice: Have central controls about adding and removing carrier accounts. Try to consolidate them where possible and have one party control the account number requests to the carriers. Challenge #2: User Management Adding and removing users may seem trivial, but it is the hardest part of managing the spend across the organization. New users need to be added as they come on board and removed when they leave. Many organizations will seldom, if ever, purge non-active employees, who then still have the ability to ship until they are deleted from the systems. Best Practice: New multi-carrier acquired shipping tools can do single sign-on, which means the system is connected in real time to your corporate address book. Employees are automatically added and removed.

If you are using a carrier-provided system, set up a process to export your active users from your system weekly or monthly, and do a comparison of your corporate address book to add or remove the changed users. Challenge #3: Rights Management With today’s shipping tools, you can control what the users see and do on the systems. Many organizations will not optimize this functionality, and it can add to significant overspending. Best Practice: Set up standards about what users can ship. The most common approach is to have different profiles that can be set up by title or need. An example would be that a VP or above can do 8:30 next-day shipments, a manager or director can ship 10:30 next-day, and everyone else would default to 2:30 next-day. There could also be defined default carriers, service levels, and cost centers set up to ensure compliance.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2019

29


Challenge #4: Issue Management With a diverse set of users, you will have varied issues that will need resolution. These could be as simple as a password reset to a technical question about the system functionality that needs to be resolved instantly so they can get an urgent package out the door. Best Practice: Set up a dedicated resource that is trained in all aspects of the system and has access to the administrative functions of the tool to make changes. Also, have a case management system to document the activities, validate resolution, and provide notes so best practice tips can be shared throughout the organization. Challenge #5: Reporting This is where most organizations drop the ball. They know holistically from their invoice what they are spending, and since they may be using an audit service to look for overcharges, they feel they are covered. Reporting is the number one way to reduce costs because, if done correctly, it provides an easier avenue for higher-ups to implement change. Reporting can show where there is overspending, and the data can be shared with the key stakeholders to drive different behaviors with their teams. Best Practice: These are the most effective reports that we have found to drive savings. They may be manual to create, but they have the greatest savings impacts.  Next-Day Savings: Shipment savings are realized by converting next-day 8:30 and 10:30 delivery to 2:30.  Same Delivery Time Savings: Savings are realized by optimizing the carriers for the same delivery time using a lower cost shipping service. Examples:  Next-Day end-of-day to Ground for local zones.  Two- and three-day to Ground for Zones 3 and 4.  Two-day, three-day, and Ground instead of USPS Priority.  Interoffice Mail: Shipping costs vary by location and method between facilities. Packages can be consolidated, and different methods used to optimize the spends.  8:30 Delivery: Reporting can show which groups used this (very expensive!) service the most.  Active Users: Report all active users on the system to compare to the corporate directory. 30

JULY-AUGUST 2019 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

 Potential Theft: This report will show which packages were not shipped from or to a corporate location or sent to one of the main e-tailers, like Amazon.com.  Incident Report: Listing of all employee issues and requests with final resolution and response date. Challenge #6: Reporting Review and Disbursement The only way reports are effective is if the information is reviewed and there is a pro-

 Single Sign-on: These systems can eliminate the manual user management discussed above because it is connected in real time to your corporate address book.  Easy to Implement: Since the newest systems are cloud-based and remotely hosted, there is little to do from an IT perspective.  Simplified Reporting: Many of the reports mentioned above can be automated through the newest tools.

The only way reports are effective is if the information is reviewed and there is a process for getting the data to the right parties who can impact change.

cess for getting the data to the right parties who can impact change. Creating monthly review meetings with the data and then coming up with a plan for the best ways to implement the information is the most effective. This plan could be along the lines of running corporate education or going to specific end users and helping them understand the cost impacts of their shipping choices. The key point is that your users understand that this data is being watched and that everyone needs to play their part in making the best choices. Challenge #7: Technology There are new multi-carrier acquired shipping systems that can make this process easier, and we are seeing a lot of movement for the following reasons:  Rate Shopping: These systems can compare your discounted rates and service levels across multiple carriers at the time of shipment, making it easier for your end users to make the best choices.  USPS Stamp Printing: Some of these systems can let your users generate USPS postage stamps at $.50 per piece. This can reduce the need for postage meters or trips to the post office. More importantly, it can keep users from sending non-critical items through expensive overnight services.

The key to realizing the full potential of any new technology is understanding that this technology needs a proper process to implement, onboard, and train to make sure it is widely used and accepted. Organizations are spending millions of dollars in carrier expenses, and not looking at the items above can lead to missed opportunities when it comes to cost savings. Unfortunately, these organizations often push the responsibility to the lowest-level employees, who may have limited tools and resources to optimize the process. But with the right oversight, reporting, and systems, this process can provide the greatest opportunity for savings and the ability to change behavior to focus on making the best choices.  Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest mail equipment fleet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multi-locations reduce mail and parcel related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 60% and over $50 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam.lewenberg@postaladvocate.com


COMING NEXT MONTH!

WHO ARE THE 2019-2020 Get the details you want about the companies with the expertise to develop the equipment, software, services and supplies you need for improving the quality, production and workflow of your print-mail operation.

HOT

PRINT-MAIL SOLUTION COMPANIES