NEED HELP WITH YOUR VOTE BY MAIL? SEE PAGE 24 FOR 6 INDUSTRY IDEAS.
JULY - AUGUST 2021
WAYS TO SAVE ON EXPEDITED DOCUMENTS AND PARCELS. PAGE 28
HOW TO TAILOR YOUR COMMUNICATION PIECES TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION — AND GET RESULTS. PAGE 8
INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS SHAKE UP THIRD-PARTY MAILERS PAGE 20
IS YOUR APPROACH TO DATA SECURITY JUST SMOKE AND MIRRORS? PAGE 16
TABLE OF CONTENTS
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | VOLUME 34 ISSUE 4
DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note
2021: The Halfway Point By Amanda Armendariz
06 Real-Life Management Quality Is Job One! By Wes Friesen
08 Inkjet Info
Pay Attention to ME: Giving Younger Consumers the Attention They Expect
By Karen Kimerer
10 The Trenches
Automation in the Mail Center
By Mike Porter
12 Strategy and Culture Connection
Powerful Hiring Practices: Your Key to Culture & Strategy Success By Bruce Gresham
FEATURES 16 Make Sure Your Security Practices Aren’t Just Smoke and Mirrors By John Murray
18 2021: Another Year of International Mail Changes By Merry Law
20 Individual Rights Shake Up Third-Party Mailers By Matt Mahoney
14 To Sum Up 22 The USPS Offers Digital Tools That Help Drive Customer Engagement By Kemal Carr
26 Hybrid Mail Gives Print Service Providers More to Offer
SPONSORED CONTENT 13 Rhode Island Automates Ballot Mail Processing 15 The Potential Impact of Network Rationalization
By Ernie Crawford
28 Top 10 Ways Every Large Organization Can Save on Expedited Documents and Parcels
24 6 Industry Ideas to Help with Your Vote By Mail UPCOMING 2021 EVENTS
By Adam Lewenberg
2021 NPF 2.0, A Virtual Experience September 20-22 www.npf.org PRINTING United October 6-8 www.printingunited.com
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 34, ISSUE 4 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz email@example.com Contributing Writers Kemal Carr, Ernie Crawford, Wes Friesen, Bruce Gresham, Karen Kimerer, Merry Law, Adam Lewenberg, Matt Mahoney, John Murray, Mike Porter Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 email@example.com Design Kelli Cooke
MadMen3 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 ©2021 by MadMen3 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, MadMen3 or its staff becomes property of MadMen3. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of MadMen3 or Mailing Systems Technology. MadMen3 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 34 Issue 4] is published six times per year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by MadMen3, 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
2021: THE HALFWAY POINT BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ
t’s hard to believe we’ve now surpassed the halfway point for 2021. Thankfully, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about the remaining half of this year than I was at this point in 2020. At this time last year, much of the country was still shut down, case numbers were rising rapidly, and there was no vaccine on the horizon (and isn’t it funny that I don’t even have to mention specifically what case numbers I’m referring to? By now, COVID is our immediate go-to thought!). Luckily, we are at the other end of the tunnel now; case numbers are dropping, vaccination numbers are decent, and there’s a sense of hope that life will soon return to normal. Of course, there are some things that are not necessarily returning to normal, the mailing industry being one of them. Volumes continue to decline as they have been for years, and this drop was exacerbated by the pandemic. Plus, the proposed rate increases for the end of August have many mailers worried, especially since many of them (naturally) did not budget for a mid-year increase. In addition to that, there is speculation that another, standard rate increase would
take place as usual in January, meaning that mailers may see two significant increases within the span of six months. As many note, these increases (while understandable from a USPS revenue standpoint) may end up achieving the opposite effect of the desired goal: e.g., to get more pieces, not fewer, into the mailstream. Ideally, there would be a mutually satisfactory middle ground that could be achieved. The USPS undoubtedly needs more revenue to sustain its operations, but significantly increasing the cost of mail is not the way to go about it. In the face of large increases, many mailers will simply mail fewer pieces, thereby hurting both the USPS and themselves, since we all know: Mail works as a customer communication vehicle. We will certainly keep you posted on what the remainder of 2021 holds.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
QUALITY IS JOB ONE! BY WES FRIESEN
ost of us likely remember the well-publicized Ford tagline, “Quality is Job One!” (which Ford used in advertising for nearly 20 years, and their latest CEO recently brought back for internal purposes). No matter what operations we are involved with, pursuing high quality is essential. What is quality? A simple definition is, “quality is providing products or services that customers need, and that are free from deficiencies and errors.” Studies have shown (and experts agree) that high quality has many benefits, including increased: Customer value Customer satisfaction Customer loyalty Repeat business Employee pride Another motivation to pursue quality is for us to avoid the costs of poor quality, which include: Excess scrap and waste material Repairs and rework on defective or damaged products Overtime costs Machine downtime Decreased employee engagement Brand (reputation) damage Principles to Improve Quality and Performance How can we improve our quality and performance? I suggest we need to consider the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) key principles to improve quality and performance, which are summarized in the ISO 9001:2015 Statement. Included are: 6
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
1. Customer Focus. Sam Walton wisely said, “There is only one boss. The customer.” The primary focus of quality management is to meet and strive to exceed customer expectations for our products and services. This principle applies to whatever internal or external customers we are privileged to serve. We need to understand what our customer needs and wants are, then create value for them (and us!) by delivering on those needs. How do we know what customers need and expect? Ask them. We can better understand our customers by using tools like customer surveys, focus groups, 1-1 meetings, and reviewing unsolicited customer feedback (e.g., emails, letters/notes, phone calls). 2. Leadership. John Maxwell’s key principle that, “Everything rises or falls based on the quality of leadership” rings true. Leaders should establish unity of purpose and direction, and create a culture where our team members are actively pursuing our quality objectives. Creating a culture of quality is huge, as quality guru Philip Crosby emphasized by saying, “Quality is the result of a carefully constructed cultural environment. It has to be the fabric of the organization, not part of the fabric.” W. Edwards Deming is considered the father of the Quality movement. One of his key sayings is, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”. The best leaders create a culture where every person believes this and takes personal responsibility for the quality of our products and services. 3. People Involvement. A key principle that I teach and try to follow is, “Change
imposed is change opposed.” We need to involve our team members and support staff, and empower and engage them in making quality a priority. Frankly, most of the best ideas to improve the quality in our processes and our products and services come from the people doing the work — so let’s ask them for their ideas and input! We also need to help our team members understand and own the quality goals and the why beneath them. I resonate with Elon Musk’s quote that, “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.” One of my favorite management memories was when one of my teams, on their own initiative, developed their team tagline, “Pride and Quality!”. The team took ownership for their quality and took pride in providing exceptional customer service! 4. Process Approach. We need to understand and manage all our processes, and collaboratively work with our teams and support staff to seek ongoing improvements. Deming once stated, “Eight-five percent of the reasons for failure and deficiency are in the systems and processes rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.” One idea to better understand processes is to pursue earning belts from Six Sigma. To get started, you can Google for inexpensive online training that can lead to earning the first level white belt (later belts include yellow, green, black, and master black). One Six Sigma process improvement tool we can use is the DMAIC approach. The components include: D - Define the Problem. In the first phase, various problems that need to be addressed are clearly defined. Feedbacks are taken from customers as to what they feel about a particular product or service. Feedbacks are carefully monitored to understand problem areas and their root causes. M - Measure and find out the key points of the current process. Once the problem is identified, employees collect relevant data that would give an insight into current processes. A - Analyze the data. The information collected in the second stage is thoroughly verified. The root cause of the defects is carefully studied and investi-
gated to find out how they are affecting the entire process. I - Improve the current processes based on the research and analysis done in the previous stage. Efforts are made to create new projects that would ensure superior quality. C - Control the processes so that they do not lead to defects. Other practical tools that are valuable include checklists and flowcharts. 5. Continual Improvement. Successful organizations and teams embrace the Continuous Improvement mindset — which means to avoid complacency and continually seek ways to make improvements in how we do our work. We can support this continuous improvement mindset by educating and training people on the benefits and practical tools. Tracking mutually agreed upon performance measures can help build accountability and provide the opportunity to celebrate and recognize progress. To sum up, quality is a continuous race to improvement with no finish line! 6. Factual Approach to Decision Making. There is a place for “gut instincts”
and qualitative assessments on how our teams are performing and for making decisions. That being said, the best-performing organizations and teams use data and information to help assess performance and make better reasoned decisions. We can pursue the ability to track and then analyze customer and operational performance data and information gathered from performance reports, surveys, meetings, and other helpful sources. Charts like Control and Pareto can be helpful too. 7. Supplier Relationship Management. For sustained success, we need to have positive working relationships with our suppliers and vendors. Some key ways to develop good relationships with suppliers are to treat them as valued business partners, look for wins-wins, think long-term not just short-term, share information and expertise, encourage and recognize improvements by them, and regularly express appreciation. One idea to consider is to collaboratively develop vendor scorecards, then meet on a periodic basis to discuss what is going well and where improvement opportunities exist.
William A. Foster said, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” I agree. Let’s intentionally pursue quality and enjoy the benefits to our teams and the customers we serve! 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. He serves as the Industry Co-Chair of the Greater Portland PCC. His book, Your Team Can Soar!, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you and give you practical pointers to help you — and your team — soar to new heights of performance. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from Xulonpress.com/bookstore or wesfriesen.com (under Book) or an online retailer. Wes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 971.806.0812.
Maintain an Accurate VOTER LIST Address Verification Change of Address Processing Voter Record Dedupe Limited Time Offer Free List Processing for States & Counties. Call for Details
800.MELISSA (635-4772) MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
PAY ATTENTION TO ME: GIVING YOUNGER CONSUMERS THE ATTENTION THEY EXPECT BY KAREN KIMERER
here are several living generations of consumers, and each generation has its own preferences in terms of how they like to shop, how they spend money, and how they want to be marketed to. Younger consumers are always a topic of interest, because they represent the next generation of preferences as well as up-and-coming spending power. This article touches on the unique challenges associated with marketing to younger consumers. It also explores how direct mail can be used to engage these consumers and considers the vital role that inkjet technology plays. Establishing the Base A term like “younger” is vague and somewhat subjective, so it’s important to start by defining what is meant by younger consumers. In its annual consumer market research, Keypoint Intelligence identifies three primary age brackets: Ages 18-34: At this time, consumers within this age bracket are considered the youngest adult generation. The members of this group are primarily part of Generation Z or younger Millennials. Some of them are just
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
starting their professional careers, but the older members of this group have been in the workforce for 10+ years. Ages 35-54: Members of this middle group are primarily older Millennials and most members of Generation X. These individuals have been part of the professional workforce for quite some time, and many are also caring for children in their households while also supporting their aging parents. Ages 55+: Members of this elder group are the oldest members of Generation X as well as Baby Boomers. Although some of these individuals have retired, still others remain a vital component of the workforce. They still have a tremendous amount of spending power and influence. As consumers, we may not notice the subtlety of marketing campaigns that use age segmentation as a tool to gain our attention. Whether we notice it or not, though, age-targeted marketing has been around for years. When used correctly, it can provide a much higher return on investment than grouping all consumers into a single audience. For example, suppose you create a campaign that encourages consumers to seek financial advice. Whereas younger consumers
might be just learning about financial independence and responsibility, more mature consumers may be in their peak earning years. People will have different financial needs based on their age and status in the workforce, so they should receive messaging and calls-to-action that reflect these differences. More Is Better! For many years, marketers have followed the rule that five to seven prospect touchpoints are required to convert a lead into a sale. With the constant barrage of marketing messages coming at us these days, though, some might expect consumers to prefer fewer touchpoints or contacts. As it turns out, however, recent research from Keypoint Intelligence reveals that the majority of consumers would like to be contacted by brands daily, weekly, or monthly. The key takeaway from the chart on the next page is that regardless of whether a relationship with a business exists, younger consumers want to be communicated with more frequently. This might seem like a dream come true for marketers, but implementing a customer-first marketing strategy can be costly and ineffective without the proper planning and tools. Here are three ways to attract and retain the attention and spend of younger consumers: 1. Test Your Appeal. There was a time when print technology worked best for volumes of long print runs, but this is no longer the case. The barriers to costeffective short runs continue to diminish with ongoing advancements in digital inkjet press technology. Marketers can now leverage digital print to grab the attention of a target audience with personalized and relevant direct mail. Although your company is undoubtedly concerned about the technology used to apply ink on paper, it’s important to remember that consumers don’t care about this. The things that capture their attention include the type of mail, its messaging, and a strong call-to-action. Savvy brand owners can and should experiment with oversized envelopes, standard direct mail, and postcards to determine which messages are the most effective. Information about response rates can be collected and analyzed to develop more relevant campaigns in the future.
2. Be Relatable, Not Just Personal! Thinking back to the example of a younger consumer who is just starting out on his or her journey toward financial security, the importance of relating to a consumer’s personal needs cannot be overstated. It is no longer enough to rely on generic forms of personalization like name and address; the financial services firm must demonstrate an understanding of that consumer’s specific situation. Younger consumers generally have much to learn, and many have no idea even where to start. In this instance, a series of educational direct mail pieces can elevate a brand’s value and demonstrate its commitment to strong customer care. Younger consumers identify with brands that stand for something beyond the products and services they provide. According to the USPS, the average American household receives only 454 pieces of marketing mail each year. In today’s era of digital overload, a tangible piece of paper landing in the hands of the right consumer can really stand out. 3. Create an Irresistible Call-toAction. Convincing younger consumers to take action might be easier than previously thought. Traditional marketing wisdom suggests that action verbs like “download,” “reserve,” and “grab” can be effective, but modern marketers can appeal to an even greater tool. Generation Z consumers and Millennials grew up with screen time, and interactive
direct mail can take them back to their screens. Although once perceived as a rather stale way to connect consumers to your website, quick response (QR) codes on printed documents have since experienced a resurgence as a
The Bottom Line Younger consumers can represent a goldmine of opportunity for brand owners that strike a chord with them. A solid direct mail campaign must consider the likes, dislikes, and unique preferences of younger generations rather than attempting to lump everyone into a generic, all-encompassing category. Younger consumers expect and even want brands to reach out to them via multiple touchpoints, and this calls for new and innovative ways to stay connected. By combining digital inkjet technology, direct mail, and digital components, businesses can connect with the younger members of their audiences, add more value to the customer journey, create more leads, and ultimately drive more sales.
Whether we notice it or not, age-targeted marketing has been around for years. When used correctly, it can provide a much higher return on investment than grouping all consumers into a single audience. more dynamic way to deliver marketing messages. Younger generations are also extremely open to video messaging. Digital inkjet print technology can drive consumers to an augmented reality overlay or interactive QR codes.
Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
moving materials around the print/mail center should be easy. Industrial robots are also available to sleeve mail trays, intelligently build pallets of outgoing mail, and label them. This technology reduces labor costs and improves accuracy.
AUTOMATION IN THE MAIL CENTER BY MIKE PORTER
lmost all business units in today’s corporations are looking to automate their processes as much as possible. COVID-19 taught us that relying on human-dependent manual tasks made it difficult to carry on when the humans were locked down at home. The pandemic accelerated a path towards automation that was already underway, and companies are now focused on making automation the new normal. Print/mail centers are no exception. Many tools to automate or digitize processes that have been done by hand for decades are becoming readily available. Some of these tools may even be in your print and mail production centers now. Several technologies may be useful as modern mail centers transition to more intelligent, integrated, and automated operations. Some improvements will be easy to spot, such as robots that move material around the facility or take over manual tasks. Other automation projects are software-based and data-driven or built into print/mail production equipment. Small mail centers won’t be investing in robots, but I can envision other forms of automation applying to document operations of nearly any size. Expensive software used to be available only as on-premise installations, with accompanying investments in servers and IT
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
personnel. These solutions are now often available in the cloud as a subscription, making them affordable to a wider range of mail centers.
Workflow When I worked in the service bureau business as a production control specialist, I made sure all the production steps were performed and each was successfully completed. I ran jobs to reformat data, verify and balance totals, standardize addresses, sort the data, create print, reconcile mail inserter counts, and get the information to the billing department. I made sure we loaded the right files to process the jobs and that they processed on time. Every one of those operations required a human to know what to do and when to do it. I had to recognize problems and correct errors. Each customer application might include different variations or combinations of steps. Maybe your shop still operates in much the same way. Workflow automation is changing all that. Automated workflow ensures the production facility processes each customer application according to a set of pre-defined rules. The workflow software monitors the process, passing files and controls from one step to the next, and issuing alerts if the system detects an error or delay. Operations personnel can monitor the entire production environment from a single dashboard. With the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these automated workflow systems are getting even smarter. They can anticipate workloads, consider deadlines, and match job requirements with devices that support them. In some cases they can correct errors, such as reprinting damaged documents, without human intervention.
Automated workflow ensures the production facility processes each customer application according to a set of pre-defined rules. Robots Robots are already in place in many manufacturing facilities, including some mail centers. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are transporting rolls of paper inside print production centers. Carrying cartons of envelopes or inserts from the warehouse to the inserting machines and back is a manageable task for AGV devices and may replace the trips operators make to the warehouse to gather materials for the next inserting job. If a driverless vehicle can navigate through the neighborhood to deliver my pizza,
Equipment Maintenance and Set-up Sensors built into print and mail equipment can provide the data that allows AI-powered systems to predict when a component will fail and automatically schedule maintenance appointments or order replacement parts in advance. Wouldn’t it be great for the machine to tell you that a belt was going to start slip-
ping or a roller was wearing out, instead of waiting until the machine suddenly failed during an important job? You probably use preventative maintenance to keep those breakdowns from happening today, relying on the skill and experience of the service technician. Most of them are great, but service professionals won’t be able to catch problems that develop between PMs. Smarter hardware can be more reliable, resulting in longer up-time and higher productivity. Modern printing presses and finishing equipment already offer automated set-up functionality. By storing the settings and parameters in the device’s memory, operators can simply choose a job profile from a menu and the machines will make adjustments on their own. Look for future functionality here to automate fine-tuning adjustments or eliminate operator intervention. Machines may be able to set up themselves based on attributes of the job such as page dimensions, cut marks, or envelope window location. Automated set-up eliminates
the chance of operator error caused by selecting the wrong job profile. Inside and Outside Communication Smart factories are adopting standards that allow equipment from different manufacturers to communicate with each other. A printer might alert an inserting device or bindery equipment, for instance, to be sure it is ready to accept the work when the print job is finished. External communication among systems may also be possible. A workflow platform might provide daily mail volume estimates to the presort vendor, for example, so they can efficiently schedule their pickup routes. The software could handle this task automatically. Human-originated phone calls and emails would no longer be required. A New Way of Working Some of these automation measures may sound far-fetched, and not every print/mail facility will implement them. However, the technology to accomplish these things already exists or is likely to
be available soon. Companies that take advantage of automation and technologies like AI will have an advantage. They will do more work at a lower cost than their competitors. Up to now, the skills most valued in mail operations employees have been associated with machine operation, productivity, people management, and planning. As document factories become more automated, I predict the most valuable employees will be those who understand how to connect processing systems, evaluate data, and manage the intelligent software and hardware running in their shops.
Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at email@example.com.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
STRATEGY & CULTURE CONNECTION
What are three to five interesting things about the boss/manager? What are three to five key reasons the person wants to work for the company? This information should be sent to the candidate prior to an in-depth conversation about the role.
POWERFUL HIRING PRACTICES: YOUR KEY TO CULTURE & STRATEGY SUCCESS BY BRUCE GRESHAM
he key to delivering your strategy is having a strong and meaningful culture. The key to a strong and meaningful culture is having the right people, in the right roles. The challenge many of us are having is that placing the right people in the right roles has never been more, well, challenging. And yet we continue the same tired practices that lead to exhausting results: Posting boring job descriptions Holding bland interviews Relying on hiring platforms to differentiate candidates Change the Game You have to change the game — by changing your thinking and habits — in a meaningful way to ensure different results. When jobs were posted in newspapers, the cost was determined by the amount of space used. It forced companies and hiring managers to be creative with their job postings — then called “help wanted ads.” Hiring platforms have destroyed the concept of help wanted ads. Now what 12
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
applicants see is a job description of 800 or more words that doesn’t excite. Instead of posting job descriptions, post an ad that grabs the person’s attention by attracting their heart and mind. The ad needs to answer the primary question: Why do I want to be a part of this company? Get marketing involved in the hiring process to attract great people, like you work to attract great customers. Explain Goals, Not Duties Job descriptions simply explain a laundry list of duties. The problem is that those duties are a snapshot in time, and may or may not be relevant six months into the role. After you have attracted great candidates with a powerful ad and had a 15-minute initial screening conversation, send them a document outlining the role’s four key elements: What are three to five key goals for the person in the role? What are three to five unique aspects of the role?
Don’t Over-Rely on Hiring Platforms Technology is our friend, not the sole answer. Leaders cannot expect algorithms to solve their hiring challenges, and have to build humanity — e.g., emotion, passion, critical thinking, etc. — into the process. Add one of these tricks to your hiring process to attract the best candidates and build stronger connections with your future team members: After in-depth conversations with the candidates, have the two or three finalists submit a short five- to eight-minute video explaining how they will deliver on the goals you outline and why they are excited to work for your company. The connection they make during that video is a great way to determine the effort, energy, and creativity they put into an assignment. When checking references, work to learn how to best interact with the new team member. Ask questions like: o How does the person best learn and take on new ideas and approaches? o What warning signs do we need to look for that will let us know that we will need to take a step back and realign the team/expectations? There are great people out there to help carry your culture and strategy forward. Attract them by capturing their hearts and minds by adding unconventional steps to your hiring process.
Bruce Gresham and the team at Applied Vision Works (www.appliedvisionworks.com) use practical methods to help business owners, leaders, and teams reach their goals faster. Connect via 704.726.6728, bgresham@ appliedvisionworks.com or via LinkedIn by scanning the QR code at left with your smartphone camera.
RHODE ISLAND AUTOMATES BALLOT MAIL PROCESSING The State of Rhode Island Board of Elections (RI-BOE), like many others around the country, faced monumental challenges to processing elections during a pandemic. The state delayed the 2020 presidential primary til June to develop a plan to handle the expected increase in mail-in ballots. They had previously processed as many as 16,000 mail-in ballots, but the rescheduled primary resulted in 107,000 pieces, a more than six-fold increase. The RI-BOE employed existing tools to handle the higher volume of ballot envelopes, including hand sorting and paper-based signature adjudication, but it remained a labor-intensive process. Miguel Nunez, Deputy Director of Elections at the RI-BOE, manually
scanned and organized absentee voter applications so elections staff could compare the application signatures to those on the returned ballots. It was clear future elections, including the upcoming general election, would require an automated solution. After much research, the RI-BOE acquired a Fluence Automation sorting solution that included a Criterion Elevate sorter with an inline, selective opener and 32 bins. The Fluence solution met three essential criteria set out by Nunez, all revolving around flexibility and expandability: (1) the ability to add bin sections as needed; (2) optional automatic signature verification software; and (3) optional laser tab removal functionality, where the top
layer of paper covering a voter’s signature is removed inline via a laser as the mailpiece passes through the machine. In addition, the system included an automated data exchange interface and a small, compact footprint, all backed by Fluence’s expert technical service and nationwide field service team. The system was installed in July 2020 and was operational in time for both the early September statewide primary and subsequent November general election, which saw 170,000 ballot envelopes processed. An otherwise manual paper-based signature comparison would have required much more processing time and labor, but with the new Fluence vote-by-mail system, the RI-BOE saw a nearly 700% time improvement, processing nearly 1,500 signatures per hour with a single pair of elections officials, a feat which would have taken nearly a full day under their previous setup. The selective opener saved the RI-BOE further time and labor, by automatically opening good, adjudicated ballot mail while skipping mail that required further processing before extraction, eliminating the need to manually separate them. Mail ballot volume is increasing for many large and small counties, and Fluence offers sorting solutions to handle all volumes of ballot mail. While the Elevate sorter was a great fit for the RIBOE, any jurisdiction would benefit from sorting automation. The new Summit compact vote-by-mail sorter from Fluence Automation, created with smaller counties in mind, offers the same level of ballot processing automation in a compact, portable, all-in-one system.
fluenceautomation.com 1.888.832.4902 firstname.lastname@example.org
THINK ABOUT IT
The USPS can have less expensive rates for lightweight items (less than 10 lbs.) going to a home address or to businesses in rural locations and should be compared. Most large organizations have sizeable discounts with the private carriers that could be in the 50-80% range and think they are getting better rates with these discounts. While this is true, the USPS does not charge for many items that can significantly drive up the cost of shipment, thereby making the USPS less expensive.
In establishing a hybrid mail system, a PSP will need to collaborate with the client to ensure that it fits their needs and works effectively for them, as well as integrates smoothly with your company’s workflow. Make certain the system is easy to use, for both you and the remote workers, who may have varying levels of computer knowledge, expertise, and competence.
— ADAM LEWENBERG
— ERNIE CRAWFORD
Ask yourself: The next time a client or prospect is reviewing your security practice, will you be able to demonstrate that you take information security to heart, or is your approach just smoke and mirrors?
ONE UNANTICIPATED POSITIVE RESULT OF THE CHANGES WE’VE SEEN APPEARS IN THE USPS FINANCIAL STATEMENTS: THE VOLUME OF INTERNATIONAL MAIL DECREASED, BUT THE REVENUE FROM INTERNATIONAL MAIL INCREASED. WHILE INTERNATIONAL MAIL HAS OFTEN BEEN PROFITABLE OVER THE YEARS, THE HIGHER PROFITABILITY IS DUE TO THE SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE IN WHAT THE USPS CHARGES OTHER COUNTRIES FOR PACKAGES COMING INTO THE US.
— JOHN MURRAY
— MERRY LAW
Convincing younger consumers to take action might be easier than previously thought. Traditional marketing wisdom suggests that action verbs like “download,” “reserve,” and “grab” can be effective, but modern marketers can appeal to an even greater tool. Generation Z consumers and Millennials grew up with screen time, and interactive direct mail can take them back to their screens.
As an experienced mass mailer, you know the unexpected twists that come into play when producing large volumes of mail. The Domestic Mail Manual gives us the comfort offered by rules, and while we rely on them to be fairly consistent and postage fees to go up over time, the new curveball is the wave of consumer privacy laws.
— KAREN KIMERER
— MATT MAHONEY
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF NETWORK RATIONALIZATION Phase Two of the United States Postal Service’s® “Network Rationalization” is set to be completed this year. During this phase, the USPS® hopes to make the organization leaner by re-organizing roles and equipment within the network. Eighteen mail sorting facilities across the country are scheduled to be consolidated by November 2021 in hopes of boosting the organization’s efficiency. Postmaster General DeJoy believes closing the facilities is financially necessary for the USPS to fiscally break even within the 10year timeframe. However, there are speculations that these closures will only raise prices more quickly and slow mail delivery without helping the Postal Service’s financial situation. This kind of restructuring is nothing new to the USPS. In 2015, the USPS paused changes after 141 facilities were closed during the first phase of consolidation, which began in 2012. The Postal Service said that consolidating the postal sorting facilities is not expected to delay Express Mail® or Priority Mail® and will not result in layoffs. Instead, the Postal Service will look to repurpose the 18 facilities facing consolidation “…for package processing, given the increase in package volume.” The Postal Service said it is also working to boost efficiency by
purchasing 138 package processing sorters and leasing 45 annex facilities near mail facilities, which will, in theory, alleviate package overflow issues. How will restructuring the network affect First-Class Mail® service? According to the USPS, the average time it takes First-Class Mail to reach its destination will increase slightly from an overall average of 2.14 days to an overall average of 2.25 days. In terms of cost, the USPS does not foresee any increases in charges attributed to this change. The Postal Service is taking the necessary steps to stabilize the costs associated with processing and transporting the mail. These changes, however, are projected to save the Postal Service over $3.5 billion in the next five years or approximately $750 million per year in savings. One way the USPS seeks to reduce costs is by shifting more of its mail volume away from air transportation contractors, which leadership says have limited schedules and limited capacity to deliver mail. How will restructuring affect transportation? It is expected that the Postal Service will be able to better optimize transportation across the board. The transportation network will be realigned to meet the needs of the realigned mail processing
network, meaning more ground transportation as opposed to air. The USPS aims to decrease air transportation by 43% for First-Class mail, which means letters sent within the continental United States could take a maximum of five days to be delivered instead of the current limit of three days. What impact will network rationalization have on mailers? It is crucial for mailers to understand the impact that a reduction in facilities as well as transportation optimization may have on mail delivery. Any increase in the time it takes for a mailpiece to reach its destination can necessitate an adjusted production timeline. If a piece that used to reach a recipient’s mailbox in three days now takes five, mailers will need to consider beginning production earlier in order to fulfill their customers’ desired in-home dates. This will become especially important if, as predicted, the rationalization is completed in November 2021 – as the industry is in the midst of the busy holiday mailing season. First and foremost, having a complete, correct, and current address remains paramount to ensure predictable delivery to the recipient. With mailpieces taking longer to reach their destinations, a renewed focus on data quality can serve to mitigate additional delays caused by out-of-date addresses. Finally, tracking mailpieces remains a vital method for mailers to understand where their pieces are in the system and when they are predicted to be delivered. Investing in additional data quality and/ or tracking tools will not alleviate the impact of a changed network, but they can provide actionable information for mailers.
800.337.0442 email@example.com https://bccsoftware.com
MAKE SURE YOUR SECURITY PRACTICES AREN’T JUST SMOKE AND MIRRORS By John Murray
have been a member on many merger and acquisition teams where my primary responsibility was to audit a company’s security practices and give my assessment of the security risk identified in the proposed transaction. It never ceased to amaze me how many companies were not following the security practices outlined in their own policies. Even worse, there were more companies than expected that had no real security policy at all. For years, it was commonplace for some companies to purchase security policies based on a framework, or search the internet for security policies that looked good, and then pass them off as their official corporate security standard. The problem with this smoke and mirrors approach is that, eventually, someone is going to look close enough, realize your security program isn’t what you say it is, and your credibility is lost. I don’t want to suggest that purchasing a security policy based on a framework is bad, but simply adopting any random policy or framework without certain considerations, which we’ll explore below, may result in pitfalls or challenges for your company. 16
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Understanding the Context of your Company Context is the purpose and strategic direction of your company. Your company should determine any external and internal factors relevant to your purpose, as well as any circumstances your company may have that could affect the adoption of a security framework. For example, if your customer base generally comes from highly regulated industries, you may choose a framework different from one used for a company in a specialized niche market. Make sure you understand the needs and expectations of relevant parties (e.g. business, compliance, legal, regulatory), as well as client/contractual obligations. Additionally, be sure to note the scope of your information security management system (Note: Too broad and it will be very difficult to manage, but too narrow and it won’t do you any good). Ensure Leadership Commitment You have probably heard that everyone is responsible for information security, but a company’s leadership is accountable for that information security. Decisions
about your information security program shouldn’t be made in a vacuum and need to be made in alignment with business strategy and goals. Leadership should consider the risk to the company, and then champion their support and commitment for the information security program. It is also a good idea to set up a cross-functional committee of senior management that can track adoption and governance of your company’s security across all areas and business units. This committee should report, identify, and track concerns, gaps, and risks, as well as regularly report this security posture to company leadership. So Many Frameworks, So Little Time Once you have an understanding of your company’s context, it will be easier to choose a framework that best fits your company. There are dozens of information/ cybersecurity frameworks to choose from, and in many cases, you will be adopting parts from many of these frameworks in order to meet your overall organizational information security needs. Frameworks often overlap among themselves, so it is
common to map a control from one framework to another to help show compliance with different standards. Listed below are some examples of common frameworks: ISO 27000 Series While ISO-27001 has greater acceptance outside the United States, it considered a solid standard of information security frameworks. One pitfall for ISO is the implementation and certification process can be long and difficult. COBIT A good structure for publicly traded companies that will help align compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX). NIST SP 800-53 NIST is a publication of control standards required by US federal agencies to comply with the Federal Information Processing Standards’ (FIPS) requirements. However, NIST controls can be adopted by any industry. HITRUST CSF HITRUST CSF integrates with healthcare security requirements for healthcare providers and technology vendors. HITRUST CSF combines hundreds of requirements taken from several compliance regulations. PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) PCI is an information security standard for companies that handle credit and debit card information. PCI is administered by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which establishes the control objectives, revisions, and requirements needed for compliance. Putting Your Framework into Action As you adopt controls and standards from various frameworks, it is important for the outcome to be achievable, adaptable, and attainable. Achievable – It will not do your company any favors to list every control possible and try to comply with the controls that are not achievable. Keep it realistic, and enforce the controls you can today, but continue to work to mature your security controls, policy, and processes over time as compliance allows. Adaptable – Established security controls and a well-written policy should be adaptable so as the company ebbs and
flows, your controls and policy should only require minor changes or updates. If you have a good core policy that is properly maintained and reviewed regularly, it will be easier to adapt as your company encounters change. Attainable – Even with leadership support, governance of security controls and policy is not easily attained. Companies need to invest in their information security program in order to make it successful. Here are a few ways you can keep your security efforts attainable: • Assessment – Regularly assess your program by performing security walkthroughs, looking for compliance violations, and conducting vulnerability assessments to look for weaknesses that could be exposed if not addressed. You should audit your full program no less than annually to make sure you are following your established controls, policy, and standards. • Training – Make sure the staff responsible for maintaining your information security programs have regular training or have obtained and maintain personal security certifications. • Security Awareness – The best policy ever isn’t going to be as effective if the company does not have awareness around why controls are being enforced the way they are. In addition to requiring new hire and annual security awareness training, consider articles, posters, and friendly competitions and games to help make awareness fun. Once a person understands the why, they are more likely to want to comply. Trust But Verify An old Russian proverb, “Trust but verify,” was frequently used by Ronald Reagan during his tenure as the 40th President of the United States. You can expect clients and prospects to apply this proverb to you as they consider which print/mail service provider to entrust with their data. Here are a few questions clients are likely to ask: What type of data elements will you need to produce the work? If those data elements contain sensitive PII or PHI, are you independently certified to securely produce that work? Do you have the capacity to produce the needed volumes? If not, will you need to outsource work in order to make deadlines?
Are you solvent, or having financial problems? Clients will want to validate some core company integrity checks to minimize the risk of processing disruptions: • Dunn & Bradstreet Risk Management Report • Credit history checks • Industry references check • Company balance sheets Clients will want to thoroughly audit your information security program: • Have you had a past breach? • Do you have dedicated information security staff? • Do you carry cybersecurity insurance, and how much? • Do you have an independent audit report you can share to show you are certified? • Is your business resiliency capable of supporting their business if you suffer an outage? • How much money do you dedicate to information security each year? • Are you doing what your policy says? Having been involved on both sides of an audit, I can usually spot a good audit right away. Is this just a compliance checklist audit, or is the auditor going to deeply examine us? Information security programs should evolve and grow, and an audit is one way you can make a security practice get better. When I am conducting an audit as part of an acquisition or a supplier review, there are a few questions I like to ask: What is your biggest security concern, and do you have adequate budget and expertise to properly to address that risk today? Do all employees have a clear picture of your company’s overall security policy, and how can they help make it better? What does leadership not know about your information security program, but you wish they did? Ask yourself: The next time a client or prospect is reviewing your security practice, will you be able to demonstrate that you take information security to heart, or is your approach just smoke and mirrors? John Murray is director of infrastructure and security at IWCO Direct, where he is responsible for developing data security policies and procedures that adhere to the company’s security standards. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
By Merry Law
2021: ANOTHER YEAR
OF INTERNATIONAL MAIL CHANGES
ore changes in international mail are coming as I write this in early June, continuing what mailers experienced earlier this year and in 2020. The COVID pandemic was — is — responsible for some changes; others are changes in laws or regulations in the US and other countries. The consequences from the pandemic touched all classes of mail. The legal and regulatory changes affect primarily packages and physical goods (as opposed to letters or documents). The same declines in letter volumes and increases in e-commerce package volumes that we’re seeing in domestic volumes are happening internationally. One unanticipated positive result of the changes we’ve seen appears in the USPS financial statements: the volume of international mail decreased, but the revenue from international mail increased. While international mail has often been profitable over the years, the higher profitability is due to the substantial increase in what
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
the USPS charges other countries for packages coming into the US. US mailers are also seeing higher postage rates to other countries because of the self-declared rates for packages approved at a UPU extraordinary congress in October 2019. Whether the US Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act enforcement, postage increases, and competition from non-postal carriers will further decrease volumes and start depressing revenue won’t be clear for many months. The STOP Act took effect on January 1, 2021. The Act mandates that all inbound items to the US have Advanced Electronic Data (AED) sent to USPS and forwarded to Customs. Customs can provide temporary exemptions for countries, and mitigation of problematic items is possible. (Both the US and the EU countries are facing problems with the completeness and accuracy of inbound AED.) Which countries are exempt is not publicly available, nor are specifics of what mitigation is possible before packages are returned to whatever countries
sent them. The Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) published its interim final rule, due in October 2020, in February 2021, allowing a one-year phase-in of the enforcement actions. Exactly when and how more rigorous enforcement will be implemented is not clear, but it is coming. Capacity on air carriers to transport mail is returning as the pandemic lessens, although it is not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2023 or later. USPS staff handling the contracting of transit capacity are again able to schedule sufficient air lift in a timely manner to many destination countries. As the roller-coaster ride of the pandemic ends here in the US, closures and restriction continue as other countries mandate measures to control COVID outbreaks. Many countries have not reinstated signatures by the recipient, with delivery personnel verifying receipt. As vaccination rates remain low worldwide, particularly in less developed countries, closures and restrictions are likely to continue into 2022 and 2023.
Brexit: The UK (British) exit from the common market of the EU finally took effect at the end of 2020 under an agreement that neither particularly liked. Still, this agreement was better than no agreement on the terms between the UK and the EU. At the same time, the UK instituted new regimes for sales tax — VAT — and duties on inbound goods. As of January 1, 2021, the tax regime changed, making all items subject to VAT. As paperwork required for transit of goods between the EU and the UK caused delays and confusion, imports and exports decreased. It isn’t clear how much of the decrease was due to COVID restrictions and how much was due to the new tax and customs requirement. Some items not subject to customs duties are subject to VAT. It is clear that the tax and customs enforcement did account for some portion of the decrease. This may be an indicator of what will happen when the EU introduces similar measures, discussed below.
USPS Export Compliance, which was suspended earlier this year, will likely restart soon and possibly before publication of this article. (The date has not been announced.) Export Compliance confirms that the required data is submitted electronically for articles requiring customs information as part of the Shipping Services File (SSF). Non-compliant mail will be returned to the sender. The requirements are in USPS Publication 199. Changes Inside and Outside the US Continue to Impact Changes in the laws of foreign countries that affect inbound or outbound mail can be difficult for mailers and shippers to track if the country making the change doesn’t publicize it to other countries. The major changes in 2021 have been in Europe and the US. With 27 countries in the EU, including some major US trading partners, European Union (EU) changes in regulations and enforcement can have a major impact on US mailers.
tives, so there are variations from country to country. There are rumors and questions about whether some or all EU countries will require items that USPS designates as conditional, particularly the World Customs Organization’s Harmonized System (HS) Code or Number which are required on commercial, but not postal, customs forms. (HS Code information is available from the US government at https://www. trade.gov/harmonized-system-hs-codes.) The recipient’s email or phone number may ease the delivery process if VAT or customs duty needs to be collected. EU VAT: The 27 countries of the EU join those imposing sales taxes on July 1. Since each item would be assessed for VAT, customs enforcement is likely to tighten. The specifics of VAT rates and exemptions vary between countries, as each country enacts its own regulations and restrictions. For items from outside the EU, VAT will be collected with duty from the recipient. Registration in a single country under the Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) covers all the EU countries. Although some countries have said they will not be prepared and the EU cooperative of public postal operators requested a delay, it seems likely enforcement will begin July 1. (More information is at https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/vat/ ioss_en.) Duty and VAT may be collected by the postal operator in the recipient’s country for an additional fee if it is not paid by the sender. Altogether, these changes — documentation requirements, higher postage, stricter customs enforcement, sales tax charges — may lead to slower delivery and a temporary decrease in cross-border e-commerce orders. Or it many simply move cross-border fulfillment into other non-postal channels. Larger companies, with greater resources, may have a temporary advantage over smaller companies until new third-party solutions appear. Businesses like stability. There are no indications we will see it soon.
Export Compliance confirms that the required data is submitted electronically for articles requiring customs information as part of the Shipping Services File (SSF). These regulations apply to goods arriving from the US by mail or by other carriers. While customs forms and reporting were in place for US mailers and shippers before this, the VAT payment requirements are new and require registration with the UK tax authorities (https://www.gov.uk/vat-registration/when-to-register, and scroll down to “Businesses Outside the UK”). If duty is not paid by the sender (DDP), it is collected from the recipient. Postal items do not usually have an option to pay the duty in advance and goods are with unpaid duty (DDU). Duty is collected from the recipient. EU customs: Beginning in March 2021, new regulations and procedures under ICS2 were implemented for goods entering the EU, including more rigorous AED, and customs duties with a lowered de minimis, the starting amount for duty payment. Each of the 27 countries in the EU enact their own laws to implement EU direc-
Merry Law is President of WorldVu LLC and the editor of Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats. She is a member of the UPU’s Addressing Work Group and of the U.S. International Postal and Delivery Services Federal Advisory Committee. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS SHAKE UP THIRD-PARTY MAILERS By Matt Mahoney
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
very time I think USPS mail is mundane, something comes up. How can a thing so simple be so complex? It’s just mail. Paper stuffed in an envelope, right? But boy oh boy, it is a complicated web of rules, timelines, security, USPS work sharing, and politics. The pressures come from all sorts of angles that dampen the notion that mail is a well-defined, stable method of communicating. If it’s me sending you a single hand-written note, we don’t notice the intricacies and challenges of this offline channel. But those who send a high volume of mail can tell a different story. As an experienced mass mailer, you know the unexpected twists that come into play when producing large volumes of mail. The Domestic Mail Manual gives us the comfort offered by rules, and while
data collected about US individuals was not widely used in other countries. The danger was there for identity theft, but on a much smaller scale and less likely to happen. With the internet, data collection happens at light speed and has global reach. Big data repositories exist with billions of people’s information from every corner of the earth. Let’s be real; our personal data is all over the place with varying levels of security, and we willingly give up the content on our mobile devices for so-called free apps. Everything we do in this digital world is tracked, stored, analyzed, and used to sell products and services to us. We are simultaneously the product, the consumer, and the prey.
This culture of exchanging personal information for free software is at the root of the matter that can dramatically affect the mailing industry. we rely on them to be fairly consistent and postage fees to go up over time, the new curveball is the wave of consumer privacy laws. People have been concerned about their privacy long before information technology came along, but today, more and more people are voicing concerns about their personal information getting into the wrong hands, and the internet is to blame. Before the internet, personal data was collected from product registration cards, magazine subscription lists, telephone orders, public databases, and other forms of offline procurement. I had more control over suppressing collection of my personal information back then, and even the data in databases was isolated and harder for bad actors to get to. This data collection process was slow, manual, and geographically concentrated. The
This culture of exchanging personal information for free software is at the root of the matter that can dramatically affect the mailing industry. The issue is with these massive networks of people connected via Facebook, Twitter, and all the others. I don’t know about you, but I can’t quit Facebook. No, it’s not what you think. I opened an account about 12 years ago to see what the fuss was about and promptly got scared of it because it started contacting everyone I knew. I shut it down within a few months. I opened it up a couple years later and the little bit of stuff I posted was still there. I immediately shut it down again, but I bet if I opened it up after all these years it will look the same as it did back then. Who can I call at Facebook to ask them to permanently shut down my account and delete my posts, likes, and photos? There is no one
to call. Facebook does not have a support number for that. My data is there forever and surely being used to profile me even to this day. That’s a problem for mailers. Here’s why. Producing mail and production volumes has a high cost. Many corporations don’t want to invest in the hardware and software needed to prepare the data, create personalized documents, print them, insert them into envelopes, and take them to the post office, so they outsource to companies that specialize in doing that work. If you’re in the mailing industry, you are familiar with this model, but you might not be aware of the rising legal pressures coming from the flank that have to do with handling of the data used in manufacturing of all sorts of marketing and transaction mail. And it is not just USPS mail, it’s the personal data used for online and digital communications. One legal ruling in particular has third-party mail processors very concerned. It’s the recent case of Hunstein v. Preferred Collection and Management Services Inc. where the 11th Circuit Court concluded that “the mere transmission of a consumer’s personal information to a letter vendor constituted an alleged violation of the third-party disclosure.” If this case holds and the laws are unchanged, then it could have a domino effect on not only service companies that perform collections for their corporate customers, but any third party that handles data for mailing or digital delivery. The disruption would be so severe that I can’t imagine that it would actually happen, but who knows? The industry participants would in all certainty influence lawmakers to adjust and clarify the code to provide people the protections they want while maintaining the industry’s business models. If not, then wow — this would likely be the biggest shake up of the mailing industry that we’ll see in our lifetime. Matt Mahoney is the Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Racami, a fast-growing and innovative software, IT services, and staffing company that improves the performance of customer communications processes and advances omni-channel initiatives. He is responsible for cultivating Racami’s relationships with customers and partners involved in the production of highly regulated consumer communications, direct marketing, commercial printing, and book publishing.
MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
THE USPS OFFERS DIGITAL TOOLS THAT HELP DRIVE CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT By Kemal Carr
t’s no secret that with the introduction of digital communications, the USPS has lost a sizable portion of its First-Class business. Our personal correspondence, legal documents, and even many bills and invoices are now being delivered via email, SMS text, or at websites. Similarly, rather than “the check is in the mail,” the check is more likely to be subtracted from the buyer’s account and added to the biller’s via digital transmission. The volume of Third-Class, or so-called “junk mail,” consisting for the most part of advertising and marketing materials, surpassed First-Class many years ago, and with enhancements like personal addresses rather than simply “Occupant,” enjoyed something of a boom over the last decade or so. Then, the pandemic resulted in a huge downturn in Third-Class mail as well. Adding to that, the USPS has faced competition from companies like FedEx and UPS for years, particularly with the promise of overnight or next-day delivery for flats, such as letter-size correspondence, as well as for parcel delivery. Though the USPS is largely managed as a business and operated for profit, it sees shortfalls of billions of dollars most years and remains funded to a significant extent by taxpayer dollars.
The good news is that the USPS has recognized the impact of digital communications and has been developing its own apps and software solutions to streamline operations for high-volume and bulk mail to make itself more user-friendly for mailers and consumers. Two of these recent innovations, Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility, can help businesses further personalize their direct mail using digital technologies that can boost the response rate and conversions of multichannel direct mail campaigns. Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility are the latest innovations from the USPS and both can help marketers turn every interaction into action by combining digital content with physical mail. For Informed Delivery, residential consumers sign up with an email address at their personal USPS.com account to receive electronic previews on their computer, tablet, or mobile device of incoming letter-sized mail that is scheduled to arrive soon. These notifications are grayscale images of the mail piece that participating mailers can supplement with a clickable and interactive color image below the grayscale image. Organizations can market their product and services by using this added image to
serves as a reminder to pay. We know the strong statistics that tell us paper statements and invoices in most cases are opened and carefully read. Using Informed Delivery, marketing materials can be included with transactional mail into what we used to call transpromo, similar to the printed messaging on the statements or the flyers inserted into paper envelopes. A link to a URL can be added to suggest a quick and easy way to submit a payment. In another case, while different age groups have different preferences, consider that according to the USPS, 47% of Millennials, born 1977-1995, check their physical mailbox each day and consider reviewing their direct mail a leisurely activity. They pay attention to customized messaging and, while many of them browse online and/or check online for customer reviews of products, restaurants, entertainment options, and more, they often make their purchases through other channels, including in person at retail stores. Combining print with digital content for direct mail campaigns through the use of QR codes, short links, and scannable coupons appeals to the multichannel preferences of Millennials, a group that spends over $600 billion annually.
provide a link to a URL so consumers can fulfill a call to action with a single click. For example, by customizing content in this way, it is possible to supply a clickable coupon that can be used with online storefront purchases, as well as a physical coupon to be used in-store — both of which can increase consumer engagement and sales. Informed Visibility Mail Tracking & Reporting (IV-MTR) offers mailers almost real-time visibility as mail travels throughout the mail stream by providing information like individual household delivery times. IV-MTR can be applied to First-Class mail, periodicals, and Third-Class standard mail that is barcoded. It provides a fast and accurate way to gain insight into how well campaigns are working. Retailers can time direct mail pieces to arrive just before the busiest shopping day of the week or the day a promotion begins. Additionally, they can coordinate sending associated follow up communications via other media channels, such as emails and SMS, for delivery near the same time as the physical mail pieces. Direct Mail Comeback As noted above, the COVID-19 pandemic was not kind to the USPS or for direct mail. Uncertainty accompanied the pandemic because no one knew or could predict its
impact on everyday life, including working conditions, shopping activity, and supply chains for all types of products. Many storefronts closed or restricted their hours, while many consumers turned to online retailers like Amazon for their needs. However, statistics show that direct mail still remains an effective marketing vehicle, offering a response rate that is five to nine times greater than email, paid search, or social media. One reason might be that printed information, especially when colorful, engaging images are incorporated, can invoke a more thoughtful, even emotional response versus email or SMS notifications. Additionally, with paper mail there are no spam filters, junk folders, or ad blockers to prevent delivery. Physical + Digital Content Mail Launched in 2017 and currently with more than 20 million residential consumer household subscribers, Informed Delivery provides organizations the opportunity to reach these potential customers with digital content plus physical documents to better fulfill both the customer’s and the mailer’s expectations. For example, for transactional documents, many consumers prefer receiving a paper bill over an email notification because the paper
Getting Back to Work As the pandemic appears to be winding down, direct marketers will be returning to work, even if they decide to continue working remotely. As they formulate plans and design new campaigns, multichannel marketing will definitely be on their agendas and the USPS’s Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility platforms can be an effective part of that. ListGiant, which focuses on email marketing, claims that by reaching a customer through multiple channels, the customer is 400 times more likely to respond. In addition to its 20 million subscribers, the Informed Delivery platform is adding 500,000 new subscribers per month. Reaching these consumers is an opportunity organizations can’t afford to ignore, particularly when Informed Delivery provides customers an easy and effective way to respond to a campaign’s call to action. With this platform, the USPS can help do what every company is striving to do: Provide the right data, at the right time, to the right people — those who can make business decisions and accelerate their customer experience strategy. Kemal Carr is president of Madison Advisors, an independent analyst and market research firm that addresses the needs of the electronic and print customer communications management marketplace. Visit www. Madison-Advisors.com for more information. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
6 INDUSTRY IDEAS TO HELP WIT SPONSORED CONTENT
With over 40 years of experience in postal presort software and address quality solutions, BCC Software is a proven industry leader. We are experts from data to delivery, offering the widest range of solutions to enhance direct communication anywhere along the mailing workflow. Our products include best in class data enhancement services, postal preparation software, and mailpiece tracking. With more than 35 million Americans moving each year — and nearly 40% of that number not filing a Change of Address — accurate data is crucial to ensuring your mailpieces reach their intended target — the voter. Our comprehensive data marketing services, including COMPLIANCE+™, which combines CASS™ and NCOALink® with powerful industry tools, can help mailers ensure their records are up-todate and accurate in advance of an election. Leveraging USPS Informed Visibility®, Track N Trace® empowers mailers with the knowledge of potential delays to their critical mailings across the mailstream, enabling them to intervene on behalf of their customers. Through Track N Trace’s robust reporting capabilities, mailers can react proactively, in turn providing their customers with the confidence to deliver accurately timed messaging. To learn more about our data marketing and mail tracking services, contact us today. email@example.com 800.337.0442 https://bccsoftware.com
Gone are the days when a county might process only a handful of mail-in ballots. Even during small local elections, more and more people are turning to voting by mail. Larger and more affluent counties have been able to automate the ballot handling process with large sorting and imaging systems, but that technology has often been impractical or out of reach for counties that have smaller offices, smaller budgets, and don’t process tens of thousands of ballots each election cycle. Now, that level of automation is available to such counties. The new Summit compact vote by mail sorter from Fluence Automation offers the same level of ballot processing automation in a compact, portable, all-in-one system that doesn’t require a dedicated installation space and can be rolled out when you need it and tucked away when you don’t. It’s perfect for offices with limited space and limited
budgets who still need ballot handling automation a couple times a year. Fluence Automation has solutions to make managing mailed ballots easier and optimize your workflow: Automate signature verification Verify envelopes and ballots Digitize envelopes and signatures Capture multiple data points for audit tracking Automate inline envelope opening and privacy tab removal Compact footprint with built-in casters for easy portability with our new Summit VBM sorter Work seamlessly with your EMS and automate the data transfer
With health and safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, “vote by mail” has gained popularity in recent months. To capitalize on the promise, election officials must accurately identify voters that have moved to reduce waste and cost of undeliverable election-related mail, as well as avoid potential voter disenfranchisement when election materials are not received. In data reported by Nevada’s Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer’s Office, nearly a tenth of the mail-in ballots sent to active voters in Douglas County (3,745 of 38,260) were returned as undeliverable. Overall, 1,829,050 ballots were mailed to Nevada voters in 2020 with approximately 14%, nearly a quarter million ballots, returned by USPS® as undeliverable. Because voter data changes in real time as people move, get married, and die, an ideal voter validation system should ensure records are up-to-date, deduped, and authenticated. As a USPS NCOALink® Full Service Provider
Licensee, Melissa will match an existing voter list against the last 48 months of permanent change-of-address records filed with the USPS. However, approximately 40% of the over 35 million Americans that move each year do not file a USPS change of address notice. To identify these movers, Melissa offers proprietary change of address processing using data curated from sources including magazine subscriptions, catalog houses, insurance companies, credit bureaus, and mail order firms that can be utilized. Talk to us about a smarter data quality approach that helps save costs, protect voter rights, and ensure election integrity for the long term.
fluenceautomation.com 888.832.4902 firstname.lastname@example.org
www.melissa.com email@example.com 800.MELISSA (635.4772)
TH YOUR VOTE BY MAIL NEEDS Speed and ink were at one time relegated to the offset press. Eighteen years ago, RISO blended the speed and reliability of offset with the digital ease of operation that is inkjet. Today RISO cutsheet inkjet technology delivers variable Data output at 9600 letter size impressions per hour. RISO uses no heat in the printing process, which yields output that is cold, flat, and dry. That is good news for anyone looking to fold and insert the variable data output into an envelope. The no-heat process brings with it the added benefit of being able to run a variety of substrates including treated paper like multi-part NCR. As well, RISO devices will feed and print on envelopes of all sizes and the glue does not impede the printing process at all. In fact, you can trust RISO to print on window envelopes without fear of melting the window inside of the unit.
Envelope speeds vary based on the size but you can expect around 4800 per hour when printing #10. Think of RISO as an affordable Swiss Army Knife; a unit that can work in the mail center or sit inside of the production print center. Whether it’s envelopes, NCR, or bond paper, RISO can provide speed and low operating cost synonymous with inkjet printing technology. Small footprint (5 ft. to start) at an investment that will fit into the tightest budgets.
Tritek’s ‘Correct Elect’ inbound ballot processing systems are available in many configurations, including a portable model. The ‘Correct Elect’ system reads all styles and sizes of machine-printed and hand-addressed mail ballots. Tritek software seamlessly integrates with any county or state voter registration software. Tritek’s field proven technology counts the ballots and offers additional features that process the voter’s address, signature, and barcode metadata. This system also offers these features: thickness detector, opener, duplex reading, and tray tag printer After capturing the data and verifying the signatures, ‘Correct Elect’ systems sort the ballots to configurable bins assigned to the precincts or other desired sorts for your elections. Our portable, small footprint machines operate on standard electrical power. Signature verification can be handled automatically or manually, depending on the needs of the customers.
Tritek ‘Correct Elect’ machines are field upgradable. As elections’ needs change and the number of vote-by-mail ballots increase, the Tritek automated ballot processing system can provide additional bins or technology to grow with them. Tritek’s ballot processing equipment has been operating reliably in several states for many years. With over 36 years experience in mail processing, Tritek continues to be a leading-edge provider of mail processing solutions worldwide. To learn more about Tritek ‘Correct Elect’ Inbound Ballot Processing Solutions, please visit our website: www. tritektech.com or call 302-239-1638.
us.riso.com firstname.lastname@example.org 978.777.7377
W+D is clearly the market leader in vote by mail inserting technology. In fact, in the 2020 US general election, W+D inserters produced 63 million mail-in ballots or about 68% of all mail-in ballots requested in the 2020 general election. This means that W+D inserters produced more than 85% of mail-in ballots sold by for profit printers. Why are W+D inserters the market leader in vote by mail? } Proprietary servo driven feeder technology that allows high-speed processing of complex ballot materials regardless of total number ballots, collateral material, or paper weight. W+D inserters put higher net output on the belt which is critical in the peak time-sensitive demands of vote by mail market. } System intelligence that allows of 100% integrity with an “open architecture” approach to software that can easily fit the varying and changing workflow needs of some 3,100 US counties’ election organizations. } Proprietary upper track technology to accurately and most cost-efficiently print serialized IMB codes inline for inbound and outbound tracking of ballots which will likely be a requirement for all future ballots. } Proprietary technology for vote by mail that can also cross over to handle simple and complex transactional work like healthcare as well as complex intelligent direct mail work. } Most robust inserter design on the market. W+D vote by mail inserters first installed in 2009 are still running vote by mail and multi shift mail production daily. email@example.com 913.227.3000 www.wdnorthamerica.com
HYBRID MAIL GIVES PRINT SERVICE PROVIDERS MORE TO OFFER By Ernie Crawford
hile many print service providers (PSPs) focus on producing and mailing high-volume transactional documents like billing statements, a new revenue stream is opening up for them due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing number of remote and home-based workers. The pandemic has had a significant impact on business offices across a wide variety of industries.
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
According to a recent study, the number of people working from home went from 18% to 51% because of the pandemic. These jobs might include almost any role in an organization, including customer-facing positions like sales or customer service representatives, as well as others who find it necessary to answer inquiries or send out printed information on a daily basis. The challenge for them — and the opportunity for PSPs — is that these workers no
longer have easy access to the company printrooms. When possible, employers have provided laptops for their remote workers to allow them to access and record customer data. Printing out correspondence can be difficult for them and may not convey the desired corporate image, but providing each of these workers with laser printers and toner would be expensive, and perhaps for only occasional use. Additionally,
packaged, and mailed. Some applications have been developed to enable such a system, and these can be adopted by PSPs, who already have the know-how and the equipment to do the production printing and mailing. Offering hybrid mail services to existing clients can generate more print and mail volumes to maximize asset utilization, expand your services to clients, and differentiate you from your competitors. For clients, the advantages of hybrid mail are many. First and foremost are the cost savings. While sending an individual letter First-Class costs a remote worker 55 cents, metered pieces go for 51 cents and with high volumes, that small difference can add up over time. If the mailed items can be bundled or commingled with batches of work from the same or multiple clients, they can qualify for additional discount rates.
tal, where they’re added to a hot folder for further processing. The hybrid mail application should allow for setting up the client’s business rules for authorization and approvals and enable workers to add attachments or inserts, as well as compliance information when required. Remote workers may be able to choose appropriate letterhead, monochrome or color printing, and whether their package goes into a standard #10 envelope or a flat. Delivery through electronic channels can be another option. Once these steps in the process are complete, the PSP handles the actual production and mailing. Now and Most Likely Forever Despite the current buzz about digital transformation and the speed and efficiency of digital communications, print on paper is not going away. Many people need a hard copy of documents for their records even if they are otherwise happy to interact via email or SMS text on their smartphones. Legal contracts and similar documents, like mortgages, require written signatures and, in most cases, that means ink on paper. Just because so many employees are working from home offices doesn’t mean they will generate fewer paper documents. Additionally, even as companies start to open their offices after months of closures, teleworking and workfrom-home situations are becoming permanent fixtures of American companies. Up to 74% of business leaders plan to move their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after the COVID-19 threat is gone. The hybrid mail system described here will remain useful for them, as well as for employees who normally work in the field and rarely check in at the corporate headquarters. PSPs and the companies they work with can meet the challenges of generating ad hoc and small batch correspondence from remote locations by adopting hybrid mail. With so many benefits, hybrid mail delivers positive ROI with very few drawbacks, making it an ideal solution for our current moment — and for a post-pandemic world.
Up to 74% of business leaders plan to move their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after the COVID-19 threat is gone.
remote workers who generate mail must stock corporate letterhead and inventory; they may also need to print out other, more complicated documents — anything from marketing materials to copies of contracts or insurance policies. And then they are responsible for getting this all to the post office and paying the postage out-ofpocket (though, hopefully, they can expect to be reimbursed for it). A Better Way A much more efficient way of handling mail generated by remote workers is to develop a hybrid mail system, which includes a central hub or clearinghouse where employees can send their correspondence, along with any necessary attachments or inserts in digital form (or requests to include these), and have this mail professionally printed,
By submitting items to a PSP to be mailed, clients will have a record of what was sent out, and when, and will be able to track the item through delivery. Most PSPs also hold certifications for security, which can be an important advantage, far preferable to remote workers printing documents on their own equipment when they may have only minimal security features. The Necessary Elements In establishing a hybrid mail system, a PSP will need to collaborate with the client to ensure that it fits their needs and works effectively for them, as well as integrates smoothly with your company’s workflow. Make certain the system is easy to use, for both you and the remote workers, who may have varying levels of computer knowledge, expertise, and competence. Ensure that training for setting up and using the system is available. In some hybrid mail applications, correspondence and other mail items are sent by the remote worker to a web por-
A digital document industry pioneer, Ernie Crawford is President/CEO and founder of Crawford Technologies. One of only a small number people worldwide with M-EDP (Master Electronic Document Professional) designation, Ernie has more than 30 years of senior marketing and management experience in the high-volume digital printing market. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
TOP 10 WAYS
Every Large Organization Can Save on Expedited Documents and Parcels By Adam Lewenberg
here are many ways to reduce the costs associated with how expedited documents and parcels are shipped, and they are not necessarily the traditional ways that have defined the industry. The main savings focus has always been around contract negotiation and invoice auditing. These are great services, but there is a larger savings opportunity that most organizations miss, and it is managing desktop users at the point of shipment. This means having the right tools, information, education, and support for your users to make the right decisions each time they ship an item. Where we see the biggest savings is not in the production shipping rooms, with expert shippers and automated systems. It is with
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
the hundreds or thousands of employees sending overnight letters and small parcels, using free, carrier-provided tools, without any company-wide support, with limited education on best practices or ability to make the best decisions. In many organizations, this makes up the majority of the spend, which could be in the millions of dollars per year. In this article, we are going to focus on the top 10 ways that you can reduce costs and streamline this shipping process that can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Stop Using Free, Carrier-Provided Systems Most companies use free systems provided by the carriers to make it easier for you to ship on their network. Examples include
UPS CampusShip, UPS.com, and FedEx. com. The issues with these platforms are that they are designed to make it difficult for you to see all your shipping options in one place. They can also make it almost impossible for you to move to another carrier (due to the change management process), giving you less leverage in contract negotiations. Finally, as you read the points below, you will see how limiting these systems can be at the point of shipment. It is recommended that you have a multi-carrier platform that can make the best shipping decisions and provide you the most leverage.
Comparing Air vs. Ground Services Most companies send the majority of their desktop-generated items as next-
going to a home address or to businesses in rural locations and should be compared. Most large organizations have sizeable discounts with the private carriers that could be in the 50-80% range and think they are getting better rates with these discounts. While this is true, the USPS does not charge for many items that can significantly drive up the cost of shipment (making the USPS less expensive), including: Residential Fees — $4-5 Delivery Area Surcharge — $3-5 — If the destination is in one of 25,000+ ZIP Codes (over 61% of all ZIP Codes) Fuel Surcharge — Currently 7-8% Address Correction — $18 Minimum Service Fees — All carriers will set a minimum rate that the package price cannot go below regardless of your discount. As an example: If you have a minimum service fee of $9, with the list price for the package at $20 and you have a 75% discount, then what should be a $5 package is actually billed at $9.
day or two-day air services. UPS and FedEx guarantee their less expensive ground services next day up to 150 miles and two-day for 300 miles or more. The issue is the “free” carrier-provided systems do not present the ground rates in the same screen, forcing users to go to a different place in their systems to do a comparison. This is done on purpose to make the more expensive air shipments the most visible to the user. Third-party multi-carrier systems can show you these comparisons in one place so you can make the best decision for your item at the point of shipment.
Rate Shop Against USPS The USPS can have less expensive rates for lightweight items (less than 10 lbs.)
Most companies find that USPS does not have a suitable next-day service, but is competitive against two-day, three-day, and ground services. The USPS will provide packaging for Priority Mail and has a First-Class Parcel service for up to 16 ounces that rates by the ounce vs. all other services that go by the pound and starts at $3.01. While the USPS does not guarantee the shipment, it can provide full tracking and day expected delivery. The final option where the USPS shines is with its First-Class letter and flat services that start at $.51. Does every piece that is currently sent as an expedited air shipment need tracking and to get there in one to two days? Most people send this way because it is easier than trying to figure out how to send a letter. This sounds crazy, but for many workers outside of a corporate office with central mail services, they may not have access to print postage. They may be working from home or at a small office without a postage meter or PC postage solution. It is easier to go online and print a FedEx/UPS Label at $10 than to go to the post office, buy stamps, and chargeback the postage. There are new web-based enterprise postage and shipping platforms that can solve this issue, allowing users to make the best decisions including printing a postage stamp on demand.
Managing Accessorial Fees From our analysis, 20% of a company’s total shipping spend is from fees outside of the base rate from that level of service. These are the extra service fees that are going up at the fastest amounts and typically have the smallest discount levels. The best practice is having visibility to what is being spent on these fees, what can be changed, and to create plans to reduce their use.
Managing Users Most large organizations will have hundreds or thousands of users accessing free carrier-provided tools, and there is typically little thought in how the users are managed. The biggest issue is user rights to the application. This is typically done in one of two ways: 1. Centralized Administration – There is someone who sets up the users on the platform and allows them to create their own password. 2. Decentralized Administration – Users are instructed to go to the vendor’s website and enter their own account number to create their own login.
Regardless of the method, we do not typically see anyone removing users who are no longer employed, meaning non-active staff could be shipping from your accounts. Also, there are typically issues making sure that users are linked to their proper cost centers. The best practice is to have a shipping platform that can be centrally managed with a single sign-on, allowing only active staff to access the application with cost centers automatically applied.
Creating Rules It is remarkable that companies spending millions of dollars on carrier spend have not set up rules for how their employees are supposed to ship. New multi-carrier platforms can create profiles where groups of users are restricted to what they can do on the platform. This allows for better control over your shipments and costs. Here are some examples: Turning off 8:30 AM Next Day service and making 10:30 AM the default to save the $30 additional fee. Forcing cost centers for every shipment to make sure proper chargeback is done. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | JULY-AUGUST 2021
Controlling what carriers and service levels are made available for different groups of employees. These rules can reduce cost and provide standardization across your organization.
Avoid Billing Surprises The user processes the package on the free shipping platform and thinks the cost is $10, but when the bill comes, there are $20 in extra fees that were never considered at the time of shipment. This sounds like a one-off scenario, but it happens to 10-30% of the items. This is a huge issue because the user is not deciding on the true cost, and with all information available, may have chosen a better option. This is especially problematic when the package is being charged back to a client at the point of shipment and the remaining fees must be paid by the company. These are the most common areas where additional charges are added after the fact to the invoice, and all can be avoided. Dimensional Rates – Anything that is not an envelope needs to have the dimensions of the item put into the system because the rate is derived by the size vs. the weight. This is often forgotten and can lead to large overcharges and bad decision making. The formula is (L x W x H)/139 (UPS and FedEx) and (L x W x H)/166 (USPS). The big issue is that with UPS and FedEx, this formula starts for packages over a 5” cube, whereas with USPS it starts with packages over a 12” cube. Also, USPS will always rate at a lower weight due to its higher denominator. • Example: 9” cube that weighs 3 lbs. – UPS/FedEx Dimensional Rate = 6 lbs. USPS = 3 lbs. • Example: 14” cube that weighs 8 lbs. – UPS/FedEx Dimensional Rate = 20 lbs. USPS =17 lbs. Address Correction – When something about the address is wrong, the private carriers charge $18 per item (not charged by the USPS). This can add up when you factor all the address issues across the company. We often see the same bad addresses being used over and over because address books are not centrally managed and there is no one notifying the sender about the address changes or updating the company database. 30
JULY-AUGUST 2021 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com
Residential Fees – If the sender does not select that it is a residential address, the private carriers will add a $4 charge on the invoice. This means that the sender made a package decision without factoring in a fee that adds at least 30% to the total cost of the shipment. Multi-carrier shipping platforms can have automatic residential indicators (since they have databases of every address that is considered residential) that can assign this fee automatically at the point of shipment.
The people that are making the shipping decisions are typically casual users, with limited shipping knowledge, and are trying their best to figure out what to do on free, carrier-provided tools.
Pickup Fees We are calling out this fee on its own because it is often overlooked and can add up to significant charges. The private carriers charge $16-33 per week per location for daily pickup service. We find that many locations do not have regular shipments that justify these fees and that on-demand pickup or drop-off services could work out better. For example, consider a company that has 100 locations with daily pickup. Seventy percent of the locations are spending less than $75 per week in shipments and getting charged at the $33 rate (vs. the $16 fee for those that ship over $75 per week). This company is spending $145,080 per year in pickup fees that could be drastically reduced with a managed plan.
Professional User Administration Most companies have put their programs on autopilot without any resources
to drive savings. We have found that the key to reducing cost is to have professional management. Their role is to analyze the data to find the problem areas, manage the users, provide a higher level of support, and drive savings through continual education and reinforcement.
Education and Reinforcement The people that are making the shipping decisions are typically casual users, with limited shipping knowledge, and are trying their best to figure out what to do on free carrier-provided tools. There needs to be a higher level of support given to these users to help them make better decisions. These are what we view as best practices to drive optimized shipping behaviors: 1. Create educational webinars that can be offered on best shipping practices inside your organization. 2. Promote this material on your internal intranet and newsletters. 3. Report on who is continually having shipping overcharges or could have made better decisions. 4. Communicate the findings to the department heads that can help reinforce better behaviors. 5. Continually update the education and reporting model to reinforce best practices and change problem areas. When you read all the issues above, it is no surprise that there are huge opportunities for savings. Companies are using free carrier tools, which do not provide an easy way to shop for better options, with users that have little support or experience shipping, and limited education on best practices. By changing this model to having the right tools, oversight, and reinforcement, there are dramatic ways to reduce costs.
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 2011, they have helped their clients save an average of 59% and over $65 million on equipment, postage, shipping, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. Adam can be reached at 617.372.6853 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mailing Systems Technology July/August 2021