Page 1


More changes

are still coming in 2014‌ are you ready? Page 22


was given freedoms with the PAEA; now it needs to use them Page 18

Five trends

that will change the way you run your print and mail operations Page 20


Your Print and Digital Communications Page 26

Volume 27 Issue 2


Features 18

Low-Hanging Fruit Still Exists for the USPS The USPS was given freedoms with the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — now it should use them. By Jessica Dauer Lowrance



Five Trends that Will Change the Way You Run Your Print and Mail Operations By Grant Miller


More Changes Are Coming in 2014: Do You Know What They Are? eInduction, Seamless Acceptance, and more — oh my! By Jeffrey Peoples



Optimizing Your Print and Digital Communications Using digital technology to improve direct mail By John Hankins


Should I Pay for a Shipping System or Use a Free One? Here are some tips to help you decide. By Adam Lewenberg

Departments/Columns 5


Editor’s Note


Real-Life Management Creating a Great Workplace By Wes Friesen




My Two Cents


Postal Affairs Consolidations, HUBs and the Changing Face of Mail Service By Kim Mauch


Ship It Are You A Shoppamus Dinosaurus? By Jim LeRose

We Are Not Marketing Service Providers! By Todd Butler


Direct Marketing 101


5 Ways to Integrate Direct Mail with Social Media By John Foley, Jr.

Application Articles

Software Byte


Optimization Is Key to Improved Productivity & Profitability


Innovation in Document Output Management: Faster, Better, Cheaper

“Muda” in the Mail By Bill Jamieson

The Trenches Eleven Ways that Mail Is Better than Digital By Mike Porter



Stronger Together By Amanda Armendariz

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Everything IMb Getting Certified By Harry Stephens

Product Spotlights

editor’s note

with Amanda Armendariz

Mailing systems technology PUBLISHER Marll Thiede


Stronger Together As many of you know, Stronger Together is the theme of this year’s National Postal Forum. In fact, you may be sitting at the forum right now, taking a break to read Mailing Systems Technology in between your sessions. I think almost anyone in the mailing industry would agree that Stronger Together is, indeed, an aptly named title for this year’s show. The mailing industry is complex and dynamic; while laypeople might not understand all that goes into a successful mailing operation (after all, mail is mail is mail, right? Ha!), anyone who has made mail their profession for any length of time knows that there is a lot that goes into it. It’s not a field that anyone should have to travel through alone, and that’s why shows like the National Postal Forum, and trade magazines like this one, are so crucial. Because while it’s certainly possible to navigate the ever-changing rules and regulations on your own, why should you? Bouncing ideas off your colleagues, and learning from industry experts, is one of the best ways to take your mailing operation to new heights. It’s our hope that, whether you were able to attend NPF or not, you will find the articles within these pages to be a great resource for you and your organization. It’s our goal at Mailing Systems Technology to be the ultimate resource to which mailers turn for their industry knowledge, so if there are topics you would like to see us cover more, please drop me a note at We try our best to deliver the most relevant and cutting-edge articles to the mailing industry, but if there’s something we’re not covering, please let us know. We couldn’t do it without you--because after all, we are stronger, together. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

Amanda Armendariz

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Todd Butler, John Foley, Jr., Wes Friesen, John Hankins, Bill Jamieson, Jim LeRose, Adam Lewenberg, Jessica Dauer Lowrance, Kim Mauch, Grant Miller, Jeffrey Peoples, Mike Porter, Harry Stephens


Rachel Spahr

ADVERTISING 608-442-5064 Ken Waddell


2901 International Lane • Madison WI 53704-3128 608-241-8777 • Fax 608-241-8666

Volume 27, Issue 2 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; or call 608-241-8777; fax 608-241-8666; e-mail or subscribe online at For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider, ReprintPros, 949-702-5390, All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2014 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. Mailing Systems Technology (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 27, Issue 2] is published six times per year, (January/February, March Buyers’ Resource, March/April, May/June, September/ October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

Real Life Management Creating a Great Workplace “The most valuable “currency” of any organization is the initiative and creativity of its members. Every leader has the solemn moral responsibility to develop these to the maximum in all his people. This is the leader’s highest priority.” W. Edwards Deming An organization will only achieve its fullest potential when people are engaged and inspired to do their best work. Research from the Hay Group finds that highly engaged employees on average are 50% more likely to exceed expectations than the least engaged workers. Companies with highly engaged people outperform organizations with the most disengaged workers — by 54% in employee retention, 89% in customer satisfaction and also in revenue growth. How do we create great workplaces that maximize our employee’s engagement and potential — and the potential of the larger organization? A recent research project conducted by professors Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones identified six imperatives that the best work places possess. Let’s look at these keys to successfully building a better workplace.

1. Individual differences are nurtured (“you can be yourself”). I appreciate Desmond Tutu when he said, “Isn’t it amazing that we were all made in God’s image, yet there is so much diversity among his people?” The organizations with the best workplaces recognize and appreciate differences in the traditional diversity categories (race, religion, gender, age, etc.). However they don’t stop there — these organizations also honor and provide room for differences in style, perspectives, thinking and core assumptions. Malcom Forbes speaks to this philosophy when he said “diversity is the art of thinking independently together.” To evaluate how well your particular team is doing, consider asking team members questions like “Do you feel comfortable being yourself at work?” and “Are we all encouraged to express our opinions?”

2. Information is not suppressed or spun (you are told what is really going on). The organizations doing well in this area do not deceive, stonewall, distort or spin. They realize that in today’s real-time social media world you are better off telling people the truth before someone else does. Nobody likes to share bad news — but employees appreciate the truth and especially want to hear from their direct boss. Being transparent breeds trust — and trust leads to engagement and higher performance. 6

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3. The organization adds value to employees, rather than merely extracting it from them (your strengths are magnified). The best organizations make it a priority to make their people better. They resonate with Bill Bradley when he said, “Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” Part of adding value includes helping employees improve in areas of weaknesses that impair success of the individual and the organization. But the best organizations focus on maximizing people’s strengths. The importance of developing strengths is illustrated by Donald Clifton (co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths) when he shared “two key points: 1. Each person’s talents are enduring and unique and 2. Each person’s greatest room for growth is in the area of his or her greatest strength.” You can evaluate how your team is doing by asking questions of your employees like, “Am I being given the chance to develop?” and “Do you have a specific development plan?”

4. The organization stands for something meaningful (stand for more than shareholder value). People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something they can believe in. Leaders of the organizations that excel in this imperative take to heart Jack Welch’s admonishment that, “A leader’s job is to look into the future and see the organization, not at is, but as it should be.” One practical tool to help develop greater meaning for an organization is to pursue “stakeholder symmetry” — this involves trying to add value to all major stakeholder groups and to balance out the interests of the stakeholders and look for the “win-wins.” Who are the key stakeholders to focus on? Some organizations have focused almost exclusively on the shareholders — and certainly they are one of the key stakeholders. But too much emphasis on shareholders will lead to problems with the other stakeholders and will not inspire employees and give them a sense of meaning. To inspire and give meaning also emphasize the key stakeholders of customers, employees and the community. Focusing on providing great customer service, developing and treating your employees well and giving back to the community will really provide the bigger meaning that employees crave.

With Wes Friesen

5. The work itself is intrinsically rewarding (your daily work is rewarding and makes sense). When it comes to work, President Theodore Roosevelt hit the mark when he said, “Far and away the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” To make sure work is worth doing, we need to ask questions about the tasks each person is performing such as “Do those duties make sense? Why are they what they are? Are they as engaging as they can be?” Talking with the employees doing the work is crucial. Also, we should look externally for better ways to accomplish the work — through professional organizations like MSMA (www.msmanational. com) and Postal Customer Councils; conferences like MAILCOM ( and National Postal Forum (; and trade journals like this one!

6. There are no stupid rules (have rules people can believe in). Some rules are absolutely necessary. But sometimes organizations have arbitrary and unnecessary restrictions that frustrate employees. It’s good to keep in mind President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote that “Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.” And we want to avoid stupid rules that spark the sentiment that General Douglas McArthur shared when he said, “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.” To evaluate how your employees feel about the rules you have in place, consider asking questions like “Are the rules clear and applied to everyone” and “Are there any unnecessary rules you think we can eliminate?” Trying to improve in these six areas is not easy and is partially outside of our control. But certainly we can identify some specific strategies to help us improve in some of the areas where we fall short of our aspirations. More power to you as you strive to create an even more engaging and inspiring workplace! ¾ Wes Friesen, MBA, CMDSM, MDC, EMCM, MCOM, CBA, ICP, CCM,CMA, CM, CFM, APP, PHR is the Manager of Billing, Credit and Special Attention Operations for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon that serves over 830,000 customers. Wes leads his teams with the able assistance of Supervisors Allison Rowden, Jessica Eberhardt, Heidi Fouts and Matt McHill. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like MAILCOM, National Postal Forum, NACUMS, FUSION and other regional and local events. Check out his personal web-site for free information ( He can be contacted at

My Two Cents

With Todd Butler

We Are Not Marketing Service Providers! Contrary to the hoopla from industry pundits, the cold hard fact is that the majority of print and mail service providers will never be Marketing Service Providers. Most of us just do not have the knowledge or resources to be the print centric ad agencies the pundits are promoting. What we can do is continue to facilitate the flow of information from our customers to their targeted audiences. Our customers cannot afford to buy integrated marketing services! “Marketing Service Provider” is just a fancy term for a print/mailer that wants to be an ad agency. Good luck with that. After 30 years in the business, I can count on one hand the number of our customers that used an ad agency. Nearly all developed their own marketing messages and outsourced message production and distribution. Frequency and follow-up was based, then as today, on available funds and bottom line costs. The reason our customers didn’t use advertising agencies was their cost. The direct mail industry is currently being told to go vertical and add agency services to its product mix for survival. Ad agency services add agency costs. Customers have traditionally been unwilling to pay those costs. Maybe that’s why most advertising agencies have been unprofitable… with short lives. We have traditionally provided the mechanics of taking our customers’ marketing ideas and distributing them cost effectively to their intended audience. With the advent of the Internet, a new communication channel was added to the mix. This channel is viewed, as direct mail was 30 years ago, as a poor man’s marketing dream. It is seen as less expensive, less complicated, and more effective than most other forms of communication. Unfortunately, perception is not reality when it comes to online advertising. As with direct mail, customers can produce their own Internet communications. And as with direct mail, it is more complicated, more expensive, and less effective than has been promised. Most small to medium-sized businesses not only have limited funds but also a limited amount of time and people. Effective marketing in the 21st century requires the use of multiple touch points and response mechanisms to cut through the overwhelming number of marketing messages targeted at consumers. An effective customer acquisition campaign starts with direct mail. It utilizes a dynamic QR Code that links to a mobile enhanced personalized landing page and/or provides a personalized URL (PURL) that links to a desktop page. These pages can digitally provide and collect personal data (such as email addresses) for updating an existing list or building a new house list. They can 8

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also deliver white papers, coupons, and more marketing. Finally these pages also provide for an automated email follow-up to reenforce the original marketing message and ask for future business. The mechanics of providing all of these various touch points and response mechanisms is well beyond the scope of (nearly) all small and medium-sized businesses or similar organizations. Just as our customers of the past needed our services to take care of their direct mail needs, they now need our services to provide various forms of Internet communications. In this role, we are not marketers but mechanics. Our core competency becomes taking various communication components and bolting them together into configurations that will succeed in delivering the marketing concepts and messages our customers have created. Our services will include direct mail, email, landing pages, QR Codes, text messaging and whatever new technology drops on our door steps tomorrow. Others (from the web) are moving into this space, providing some but not all of the necessary cross channel services. The problem with these all-digital solution providers is that their tool box, unlike ours, is missing two significant capabilities. First, these false prophets from the digital dark side think all fields in a database must contain an “@”. Second, they have never sealed an envelope or visited a United States Post Office; they certainly have not mastered the dynamics of direct mail. If you use email exclusively, how can you do one to one marketing without knowing the names, addresses, and other pertinent information about current or future customers? Unlike direct mail, rented email lists provide none of this information. How do you stay in touch with a customer if the email address you have suddenly goes dark without explanation? How do you keep customer information current without a proficiency in using postal list products to ensure accuracy? In the past our data management capabilities and postal expertise made it possible for our customers to communicate with their targeted audiences using direct mail. They could have done the work themselves but chose to outsource the mechanics of production to qualified service providers. Nothing has changed. They still need to outsource the mechanics of production and distribution. What we need to do is broaden our expertise, increase our communication capabilities, and expand the resources we make available to our customers. We need to add a digital drawer to our tool box! I can do that! I will never be a print centric ad agency (“marketing service provider”), but will be able to provide the mechanics of whichever communication channel my customers wish. a Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, can be reached at 513.870.5060, or

Direct Marketing 101

With John Foley, Jr.

5 Ways to Integrate Direct Mail with Social Media Direct mail has always been and continues to be an extremely effective form of marketing. Even in today’s growing world of technology and the increase in use of online marketing techniques, these traditional forms of marketing still remain beneficial. While you continue to execute your direct mail campaigns, understand that you have the opportunity to gain increased exposure through online marketing techniques and use this to your advantage. Social media is one of these online marketing opportunities that you can easily incorporate into your strategy. Social media and direct mail can work together, and utilizing these marketing tactics in conjunction can show a big return for your company. So, how do you integrate direct mail with social media? Here are five ways to make it happen.

Put the Social Media Badge on Your Direct Mailer Alright, this one is probably the easiest and most obvious of the bunch. If you’ve invested the time in creating and managing social media profiles for your company, you need to make sure that people know about them. Sure, some might find out about them via links that you’ve added to your corporate website or through their own searches, but you need to make sure everyone knows. To ensure this happens, try adding the badge of social media icons to your direct mail pieces. Simply seeing the Facebook or Twitter logo on your postcard may help your target audience become aware that the company is sharing information via those channels too.

Post Links to Your Landing Page on Social Media Sites Let’s say that you’ve created a landing page that is filled with compelling information and a form that contains the perfect amount of questions. Will people only get to that page if they receive a direct mailer that contains a personalized URL? Give this a try — in addition to the personalized landing pages, create versions that will be available to the general public. Then, post links to the general version of the landing page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites that your audience uses. Throughout the campaign, measure how people are getting to your page. Is it through the PURL on the direct mailer? Or through Twitter or Facebook? These types of reports may help you to better invest your resources in future campaigns when it comes to segments of your audience.

Make the Mailer Interactive with a QR Code Companies of all sizes and varieties are creating videos with their Flip cameras and smart phones and uploading them to YouTube.

Those videos can certainly help spread a company’s message and increase their SEO efforts. In addition, online videos can also be repurposed to make a direct mail piece interactive. Simple create a QR code that points directly to the YouTube video or to a mobile-optimized site that provides a link to the video. Place the QR code on the direct mailer with a call-to-action, and then watch how your growing mobile audience responds.

Enable Landing Page Visitors to Easily Share the Link with Others This might be the one idea where you can truly start to see the growth in the overall success of your campaigns. When someone visits your landing page, make it easy for them to share a link to your content on their social media sites. This could be through a simple “Tweet This” button for Twitter, a “Like” button for Facebook, or some other type of social media plugin. If your content is truly helpful and you make it easy for people to share it, your audience will grow with the help of others.

Drive People to Your Social Media Sites from the Thank You Page Let’s say that someone responds to the call-to-action on your direct mailer, types in their PURL, and fills out your response form – what do you do then? Do you simply say, “Thank You?” Well, you could do that and follow up with them later; or, you could try to further the engagement that moment. Try integrating your social media profiles into your Thank You page. This could mean putting icons that link to your social media pages. It could also mean embedding a YouTube video onto the page as well. Since the person has already shown interest in your company, perhaps they’d be more than willing to take a few minutes and learn a bit more about who you are and what you can do for them. ¾ John Foley, Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. John and his team help companies get on a strong path to marketing success. Their approach includes various software solutions, consulting, and strategic online marketing plans designed to help companies grow their business. Through the custom creation of detailed and personalized plans, interlinkONE and Grow Socially allow companies to further develop their online marketing and social efforts to truly help their business thrive. Learn more about John at, and his companies at and a MARCH - APRIL 2014


Software Byte “Muda” in the Mail The term “muda” is a Japanese word meaning unnecessary waste in a process or system. “Muda” was first introduced in the Toyota Production System (TPS) or, as it is commonly referred to today, Lean manufacturing. Many process improvement methodologies, including Lean manufacturing, Lean six sigma, TPS, and Agile software development incorporate these concepts by focusing on reducing costs and improving efficiencies, by eliminating “muda” (waste). There are seven common kinds of “muda”: 1. Over production — producing more than the customer has ordered. 2. Waiting — idle time when there is no value added to the product or service. 3. Transportation — movement that does not add value. 4. Inventory — unnecessary raw material, Work in Process (WIP) or finished goods. 5. Motion — unnecessary movement of people that does not add value. 6. Over Processing — adding steps that the customer is unwilling to pay for. 7. Defects — work that requires rework. Process improvement methodologies like TPS tie every business action to either being a value add (beneficial to the customer) or a non-value add (of no benefit to the customer). The concept of eliminating “muda” can be applied to a mailing process to help mailing managers increase profitability by eliminating non-value added activities. Effective mailing software should help to eliminate “muda” from the mail stream. Can you identify the “muda” in your mailing process? Producing more mailpieces than necessary to deliver a message is over production “muda.” To reduce the over production of mailpieces, software can be leveraged to improve the quality of your address list by removing duplicate records, ensure deliverability by utilizing a variety of address quality products (DPV/DSF2), and to household your list (the process of combining names of related people who share a common address). Waiting “muda” happens when mailing software performs calculations or operations utilizing batch processing techniques. This waiting can increase dramatically with large lists, inexperienced users, and with inventory buildups. Import a list and wait, encode a list and wait, presort a list and wait, create reports and labels and wait for these processes to finish. If these processes are not automated, this waiting becomes substantial over time, even for the fastest software. Your software vendor should be able to educate


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you on automating these processes, allowing you to eradicate this costly waiting “muda.” It will be interesting to see how the USPS handles the decision to remove the requirement to comply with Full Service Intelligent Mail. If the USPS requires the acceptance clerk to enter the documentation into the Postal Wizard, then this will cause waiting “muda” for the mailer. TEM certified software can help you onboard to Full Service Intelligent Mail and eliminate waiting for the acceptance clerk to key in your information. Returned mail is movement that does not add value to your business. Sending records through an NCOALink process before preparing the mail and utilizing an ACS process to identify problem addresses after the mail is prepared can identify transportation “muda.” Your software should allow you an easy method to improve these address records or remove them from any future mailings.

The theory behind eliminating “muda” is to replace the non-value added activity with activity that creates value for your customer, your suppliers, and your business, therefore cutting costs and increasing profits. Sending mail to the ground floor of a business high-rise when it should go to the top floor is unnecessary motion. This waste affects the mailer indirectly in terms of slower delivery times and possible damage to the mailpiece due to multiple handoffs. Passing your address list through a SuiteLink product can assign a suite prior to sending. This will allow your trusted mail carrier to deliver the piece directly to the top floor and eliminate this type of transportation “muda.” Postal software stores data associated with each list, and this data can accumulate and eventually create inventory “muda.” This “muda” can be identified by observing your users hunting through large directories to find a file, list, or saved item. In more severe cases, this inventory “muda” can fill up the system resources. In both cases, the inventory “muda” can decrease performance of both workers and machines. Postal software should have an easy way to clean up wasted virtual inventory.

With Bill Jamieson

Motion “muda” can be found when users share the same postal software on the same system because users must travel to perform their work. Lean aware postal software solutions are capable of networking. This allows your users access to the software from several locations and allows users to work in parallel.

The recent changes to the labeling list frequency may result in defects if your software does not prevent or aid in detecting situations prone to error. Software that helps ensure the labeling list date does not expire before mail induction goes far in eliminating these types of waste.

Printing paper statements along with submitting eDocs through Full Service Intelligent Mail can create over processing “muda.” Mailing software should give you the ability to choose between eDoc and paper.

The theory behind eliminating “muda” is to replace the non-value added activity with activity that creates value for your customer, your suppliers, and your business, therefore cutting costs and increasing profits. The right mailing software can help if it has eliminated its own processing “muda.” The next time you walk through your operation, see if you can identify the seven kinds of “muda” in your mail. ¾

The defect “muda” is anything that requires users to rework their mailing job. Software that is Lean aware will do its best to limit defect “muda” by providing you with warnings or errors messages before any mistakes are made in the processing.

Bill Jamieson is Director, Product Strategy, Bell and Howell. a MARCH - APRIL 2014


The Trenches 11 Ways that Mail Is Better than Digital I’m not a Luddite. I’ve been involved in technology my entire career. I developed applications for the Xerox 9700 production laser printer. I saw data storage progress from punched cards and paper tape to magnetic tapes, DASD, 3 sizes of floppy disks, flash drives, and the cloud. I had a Betamax! I worked my way through challenges associated with ZIP+4, Postnet, IMb, shape-based pricing, and a hundred other postal changes over the years. I don’t want to go back to an era where postal mail was the only choice for affordable and accessible customer communications. I am thrilled that I can look up documents online, pay bills, watch movies, track parcels, or even order stamps over the internet. Electronic delivery channels and digital documents have enabled functionality that paper could never achieve. But there are still some things that mail does better. Sometimes I think we lose sight of that fact. Try bringing up some of these points the next time someone tries to tell you that mail is dead…


In my postal mailbox today there were three pieces. They came at 11:30. I dealt with them and I’m done until tomorrow. In contrast I’ve received 64 email messages — so far. They are still coming in. It isn’t unusual to get over 100 messages a day from outside my company. I spend more time dealing with emails than practically anything else I do. A good portion of that time is spent looking for some message I saw earlier or trying to figure out what I can safely delete.

Price When was the last time you paid the Postal Service for them to deliver the mail that was addressed to you? It’s free for the recipient. The mailer bears all the costs. What a great deal! Getting emails and other digital communications requires an internet connection paid for by the consumer. My bundled cable services provide my gateway to the digital world. It’s definitely NOT free. Not even close.

Equipment To read digital messages, you need a DEVICE. You also need an internet connection, an electrical outlet, or a charged battery. To read postal mail you need a letter opener. Reading glasses may be a required accessory for some of us — probably because we ruined our eyes looking at computer screens all day.


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Sensory Stimulation There are some things that just can’t be replicated in digital form. Like the scent of cologne, the effectiveness of a laundry detergent, or the taste of a breakfast cereal. Yes I know you can send me links to a video showing OTHER people enjoying these things but I’d prefer to do that myself.

Portability Digital devices are great for taking giant collections of e-books, movies, photos, or music along with you everywhere you go. But paper was portable way before iPads came about. I’ve found that just about any piece of paper becomes pocket-sized with 4 folds or less. Paper doesn’t require time to boot up and you can still read it in bright sunlight. If you drop paper documents in the pool the ink runs. If you drop your smart phone before your contract is up you’re out 600 bucks.


OK, I guess the postal service is between the mailer and the recipient. But my postal carrier doesn’t make decisions about what pieces of mail she’s going to deliver and which ones to throw out because they might be unsolicited or suspicious. Postal mailers do not have to worry about spam filters, black lists, corporate blocking, or Gmail tabs. As long as it’s properly addressed and prepared, postal mail will almost always make it to the mailbox.

Presentation Control Pick your page size, colors, fonts, and graphics. Print on the paper. Put the paper in an envelope and those elements will look the same when your customers view them as they did when they left your facility. If only email were that easy! Digital document developers today have to design their material to be viewed on anything from a cell phone that’s two inches wide to a 60 inch TV! By the way, make sure you code the HTML so that the emails look great in all the different email clients. And don’t use too many graphics or they will take too long to download or get blocked altogether. Avoid using helpful and attention-getting words like FREE too often or your emails will be tagged as spam. Use only the handful of fonts that are widely supported. Otherwise your email message may end up looking like a ransom note.

Less Competition According to a USPS study a couple of years ago, the average consumer receives two direct mail marketing pieces a day and 57 email marketing messages. It’s probably gotten worse since then. If you want your message to stand out, I like the odds in the postal mailbox better.

With Mike Porter

Deliverability Postal mailers can determine disposition of individual mailpieces. If an address is missing an apartment number or the street is misspelled, their postal software will tell them before they mail. If the recipient has moved, the USPS will tell the mailer (and maybe even forward the mail). If a piece was successfully delivered, IMb tracking can tell them when it arrived. I have a Yahoo email address I set up in 1999. About twice a year I go in and clear out all the messages. The same mailers send email to that address year after year. The mailers know their messages are delivered to a valid address, but none of the emails are ever read. People like me are probably hindering the careers of some poor marketing people whose performance evaluations are based on email response ratios.

Preference Despite all the hype about digital mail boxes and electronic bill presentment, most consumers in the US still prefer to receive these documents on paper — by about a 5 to 1 margin. Not many companies have achieved more than a 20% adoption rate. They really want to be at 35%, so something’s got to give. I’d be cautious about forcing customers to go digital against their will.

Incentive to Open In the postal mail world, it is the job of the envelope to entice recipients to open the piece. With all the real estate available on the outside of an envelope you can use eye-catching fonts, color, graphics, and maybe even variable information like maps to encourage recipients to look at the material inside. Some mailers use window envelopes to give recipients a peek at interesting contents. For e-mailers, it’s the subject line that’s really important. This is pretty limiting. Experts suggest you keep subject lines short so important words aren’t truncated in the in-box display — perhaps 35 characters. Unless the recipient uses a preview window, they have no additional clues about what the message contains. It might be a virus. It might be offensive. Just the act of opening a message can cause email addresses to be added to more spammer lists.¾ Mike Porter is an expert in Print and Mail operations and President of Print/Mail Consultants, an independent consulting firm that helps companies nationwide lower costs and integrate new technologies in their document production workflows. For more of his thoughts and ideas visit and sign up for Practical Stuff – the free newsletter for document operations. Your questions on this topic are welcome. Send them to Follow PMCmike on Twitter. a MARCH - APRIL 2014


Postal Affairs

With Kim Mauch

Consolidations, HUBs and the Changing Face of Mail Service 2013 left USPS with no postal legislation, a continuing trend of decreasing mail volume and revenue with no relief to its debt obligations. While operations at USPS have made great strides to reduce costs, and prices have been increased above the inflation rate, there is no end in sight for the USPS cash flow issues. Required raises built into postal union contracts will add a billion dollars of additional expenses in 2014. Until meaningful postal legislation is implemented, the Postal Service will be forced to continue to look at ways to optimize the things it can control, which in many cases means changes in mail entry.

Network Rationalization Throughout 2012 and 2013, USPS consolidated 178 sorting and processing facilities, cutting the total number of SCFs, NDCs and processing plants significantly. The first phase of rationalization is now complete and USPS has been under substantial political pressure to not close any more facilities. The first phase of network rationalization closed many Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs). Local mailers depositing mail at these close facilities were promised that they could continue to obtain the appealing DSCF discount at these facilities, even when the actual processing of the mail was not performed there. In the Federal Register notice for the January 2014 price change, USPS noted that this practice for local mailers will end with the January 2015 price change.

Until meaningful postal legislation is implemented, the Postal Service will be forced to continue to look at ways to optimize the things it can control. Starting in July, USPS will start allowing mail entry at HUBs, many of which are old SCF processing facilities that were closed. These HUBs have no processing capabilities, but do have transportation to downstream delivery units, DDUs. Mailers entering carrier route and 5-digit mail in containers that can be cross docked to DDUs will be able to be deposit them at these facilities and qualify for DSCF discounts.

Service Standards and Load Leveling The second phase of network rationalization was scheduled to take place with changes in service standards that were originally scheduled to take effect in February 2014. These changes would have relaxed the service standards for local First-Class Mail pro14

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cessing, eliminating overnight delivery. This was wildly unpopular with postal unions, and has also been postponed indefinitely. This means that First-Class Mail with overnight standards today will continue to be delivered overnight. In addition, the majority of the facility changes that were part of the second phase of network rationalization have also been postponed. USPS has indicated it will provide a minimum of 90-day notice before moving forward with any changes made to service standards and noted that several facility closures may still occur in 2014. The same does not apply to Standard Mail, however. Standard Mail, entered at destination SCFs, is the most common type of mail processed by USPS. Mail carriers tend to have more mail to deliver on Mondays, and the vast majority of carrier overtime is logged on Mondays as well. During the fall of 2013, USPS conducted an experiment in New Jersey to “level” the mail, by allowing SCF mail entered on Friday to be delivered on Tuesday, rather than Monday. Days before 2014, USPS requested an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to see if this new standard could be applied nationwide. The two week test didn’t result in much negative feedback from customers, and was well received by most postal employees. However, many in the mailing industry are convinced that the isolated test was not representative of all mailers, and was not conducted long enough to produce measurable impacts on mailing campaigns. Information on how much money the load leveling initiative would save and the impact of the change on potential 5-day delivery and holidays were not calculated as part of the test. According to the PRC filing, USPS could implement this new schedule as soon as late March. If enacted, this initiative will have drastic effects on mailing campaigns that are date-sensitive. Any mailings that require an early week delivery date will need to adjust to the new schedule, where one less production day will be available. This will also impact mailings where early delivery is concerned.

What’s Next for Mailers Even without continued network rationalization, USPS still plans on moving some of the mail processing operations in 2014. To ensure mailers are preparing their mail correctly, the files used in mailing software, including labeling lists and the mail direction file, will be released monthly starting in July. Mailers will need to apply these updates as indicated by their software vendor as well as anticipate more changes to mail entry throughout 2014 and beyond. ¾ Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at

Ship It

With Jim LeRose

Are You A Shoppamus Dinosaurus? What do the model T, hula hoops and computer online shopping have in common? Answer: They are all yesterday’s news. Still opening your laptop to make an online purchase? Beware, soon you could be egregiously mocked by those same vicious scalawags who found you jogging with your Sony Walkman. Here’s a fact that should open some eyes: in 2013, as recently reported by comScore Inc., exactly one third of consumers made retail purchases via their smartphones, an increase that is off the charts (the Republican Party would kill for such momentum). Only this isn’t politics, it’s something far more serious: it’s shopping (watch the news during Thanksgiving to discover what’s more important).

to buy Iron Man 3 in 3D from Amazon.” Within seconds Iron Man 3 appears, I simply add it to the cart and check out with Amazon Prime and one click. Two days later I’m living vicariously through Robert Downey Jr. Nothing will stop this momentum. If you prefer not to use voice, there are mobile apps that simplify mobile shopping. You can find these easily in your smartphone app store.

Are you ready to join this revolution, or are you a Shoppamus Dinosaurus? This is defined as a person who is stuck in a rut utilizing old-fashioned, slower, laborious and less convenient shopping methodologies that include older technological devices such as a desktop or laptop computer and web browser.

The big problem that has yet to be resolved, however, is returns. The current process to return items with a mobile device is cumbersome and therefore represents a problem for e-commerce. The fact of the matter is, returns haven’t kept up with the simplicity and speed of buying on mobile devices because most of the effort is geared toward making the sale, not taking it back. I’m hoping that will change soon and merchants will make the return experience as easy as making the purchase. In fact this has become a personal goal along with the conversion to e-packing slips. There are a great deal of environmental benefits to doing this plus it saves companies money and helps increase consumer loyalty.

We all knew mobile devices were going to play a key role in e-commerce, but I was taken aback at just how fast. Simply put: in a few years most retail shopping will be done in the palm of your hand. Are you ready to join this revolution, or are you a Shoppamus Dinosaurus? This is defined as a person who is stuck in a rut utilizing old-fashioned, slower, laborious and less convenient shopping methodologies that include older technological devices such as a desktop or laptop computer and web browser. If the latter, fear not; there are groups available to help your get over this bad habit! But while you lament over the pace of change remember your e-commerce company must accommodate this paradigm or risk losing to the competition.

So now that it’s getting easier, more and more people will be shopping from their mobile devices and that means it’s more important than ever to ensure your e-commerce company’s products and services are easily accessible to this new type of consumer.

So if you want to join the mobile shopping (and returning) revolution and stop being a Shoppamus Dinosaurus, an investment in technology along with the right attitude is all you need (or support group if this doesn’t work). For e-commerce stores, making it as easy as possible for consumers to buy (and return) your product from a smartphone is now mission critical. I hope this article helps make it easier for you to shop, return, Ship Better and Save Money! ¾ Jim LeRose has been a transportation industry consultant for three decades. Formerly with Pitney Bowes Distribution Solutions, Jim is now Principal of Agile Network, North America’s leading provider of multi-carrier shipping software and transportation cost reduction strategies. Jim is also CEO/Founder of Contact Jim at jim. or 888.214.1763. Visit www.agile-network. com for more information.

Accommodating this consumer revolution actually starts from within. Do you shop from your smartphone? I believe the biggest obstacles are age, attitude and technology, but all of these factors can easily be overcome. Rather than shun technological progress like most people my age, I embrace it and you can too. Recently, I tried to buy something for the first time with my smartphone. At first it wasn’t easy, but after upgrading to a new Galaxy S4, I quickly realized why so many others do. For example, now I can simply speak a shopping command such as, “OK Google, I want a MARCH - APRIL 2014


Everything IMb

With Harry Stephens

There Is Still Time to Get On Board for Full Service IMb Applying for certification — whether Standard or Platinum — can seem overwhelming. However, if you send out a significant number of First Class pieces every month the savings can be substantial, making the time spent worth the work. As mentioned in my last column that discussed the delay in the required implementation of IMb, the good news is that if you haven’t started the process of getting your Full-Service Certification you still have time. The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers Full-Service Certification (FSC) to mailers who apply for certification and can demonstrate their mail quality.

Two Types of Full-Service IMb Certifications — Standard and Platinum A Standard Certification is awarded to mailers who meet or exceed Full-Service Verification thresholds established by the USPS. Mailers must have been submitting Full-Service mailings for at least 90 days and monitoring their mail quality following the criteria listed in a USPS-provided Mailer Scorecard. Mailers that meet or exceed the quality thresholds listed may fill out a Full-Service Certification Registration Form and apply for certification. Upon receipt of the registration form, the data from your mailings for the previous three months will be analyzed. If the established quality thresholds in the Mailer Scorecard are met, your company will be listed as a Full-Service Standard Certified mailer and you will be notified of your status. A list of mailers holding the Standard Full-Service Certification will be posted on the USPS RIBBS web page. This list is updated weekly to incorporate any new mailers obtaining this certification. For Platinum Certification, in addition to meeting the Full-Service Verification thresholds that those applying for Standard Certification must meet, mailers vying for Platinum status must maintain a Quality System that meets Total Quality Management standards, perform and pass three internal audits per year, and pass an additional external quality audit completed by a Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) every three years. Along with a step up in improving mail quality, there are other advantages to achieving a Full-Service Platinum Certification in your mail preparation process. They include: } Certification into a program that is recognized for the highest quality mail preparation } Access to industry standards that promote more efficient handling of the mail 16

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} More consistent service in mail delivery and mail production } Review cycles and training that supports continuous improvement and standardized processes Additionally, mailers who prove they regularly meet or exceed the high quality standards of the USPS for Platinum status are listed prominently on the USPS website. It is good to note that all mailers earning the Standard and Platinum Full-Service Certifications will undergo an annual review by the USPS to determine continued eligibility. It is important to remember that the Intelligent Mail barcode is the result of the Postal Service’s efforts to develop more robust codes capable of encoding more information. Full-Service IMb offers greater overall data capacity than existing barcodes and provides business mailers with more accurate and detailed information about their mailings, all of which enables better decision making. Applying for certification — whether Standard or Platinum — can seem overwhelming. However, if you send out a significant number of First Class pieces every month the savings can be substantial, making the time spent worth the work. For the latest information on the Intelligent Mail barcode visit the Rapid Information Bulletin Board System (RIBBS) website at: ¾ Harry Stephens is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations. He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Major Mailers Association (MMA), PCC Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and the Board of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC). He is a board member of The Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Transactional and Direct Mail Marketing service bureaus. As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups. You can contact Harry Stephens at


Optimization Is Key to Improved Productivity & Profitability NPI Sorting systems are designed to optimize your sorting operations with advanced design and intelligent software. Built around patented anti-jam technology, the sorters run more economically as time-wasting jams are virtually eliminated. Multiple motors precisely located throughout the sorter, instead of a single motor power transmission system, drastically reduce maintenance costs and power consumption. Modular ergonomic design promotes seamless upgrades and modifications to support your expanding operations and improve production efficiency. NPI Sorting Systems provide solutions for products ranging from postcards, letters, flats, and even small to large parcels. The NPI Catalog of Sorting Systems represents some of the most innovative, advanced and fastest Sorting Systems on the market, but Sorting Systems are only half of the equation. NPI Software Suites are as versatile and innovative as sorters. Through the advent of Intelligent Mail and the universal Mail.dat format, efficient data management is now the key to sort optimization, enhanced qualification and postage savings. NPI’s OptESuite of software products allow our customers to predetermine sort

plans, identify what levels of qualification is best for their operation and understand what it takes to maximize postage savings before a mail piece even hits the sorter. This allows customers in the Printing Industry and Large Standard mailers to realize real savings through commingling and co-palletization. The same technology also allows Service Bureaus to analyze different mail streams to determine the most profitable mail streams to commingle. In today’s mailing world, you can’t afford to be second. If you want your operation to be as efficient, profitable and successful as it can be, you need to contact NPI. We will analyze your operation and offer real solutions to help you be first. 888.821.7678

LOW-HANGING FRUIT STILL EXISTS FOR THE USPS The USPS was given freedoms with the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act — now it should use them.



he Postal Service was given new pricing and product freedoms with the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA). Seven years after the passage, the Postal Service has yet to use these freedoms to its advantage. The current mail classification scheme is out-of-touch with the Postal Service’s long-term operational needs. Stemming largely from the practice of lumping together mail that has vastly different cost and operational characteristics into classes, the Postal Service has imposed a pricing structure that uses a concept of infrastructure cost-sharing, and imposes proportionally large costs on relatively less costly mail, potentially impacting both overall demand and operational efficiency. Modifying the framework for defining mail classes is a natural step in modernizing the mail system. Products should reflect how the USPS processes mail and move away from a class-based sys-

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tem that has no bearing on the actual processing, transportation, or delivery of mail. Shape influences how a piece gets processed and handled within the postal network. This, then, affects how much it costs the USPS to produce and ultimately to price the service. The major differences within operations are how the mail is processed, when and where the piece is accepted, and the service standards associated with the specific category of mail. The Postal Service should capitalize on its newfound freedoms by moving from a class-based product offering to a shape-based product offering. The USPS would set service standards not based on class or deferability but by entry location. The deeper in the network a piece, the quicker the service.

The Intelligent Mail Barcode The Postal Service would create an “a la carte” special services offering through the suite of Intelligent Mail barcodes that would provide the mailing industry with

by Jessica Dauer Lowrance offerings like sealed against inspection, return service, forwarding service, etc. These a la carte offerings would allow pieces to maintain security features if needed while enabling a more streamlined approach to how mail is handled. For example, if a letter contained a bank statement and the mailer wanted 1-3 day service, it would be entered at a facility that met those service standards and prepared in a manner that would meet all associated presort and destination entry requirements. Its IMb would contain the coding that enabled sealed against inspection and automatic forwarding if the recipient’s address had changed. If the mailer wanted or needed return services, it could indicate which services were desired all within the IMb. The mailer would pay for these special service offerings in the a la carte menu. The Postal Service would charge an appropriate per piece charge based on the value within the marketplace.

Transition to Class-Based System Today, the Postal Service offers an array of products that ultimately delivers a piece of mail from point A to point B. Mailers pick that which best fits their mailing needs, i.e., letter, flat, or package. Mailers also choose a class of mail (First-Class, Standard, Periodicals, or Package Services) based on rules and regulations established by the Postal Service and service performance commitments. Additional services also are available to mailers that occur preor post-delivery. The kinds of mail services that are provided today could easily be accommodated within a revised, shape-based mail class system. For instance, the defining characteristics of First-Class Mail are its priority of delivery, its associated mail services (forwarding, address correction, return), and its sealing against inspection. These could easily be accommodated within a shape-based Letter service, the additional services either needed (sealed against inspection) or wanted (address correction) would be purchased through the IMb a la carte offerings. The same would be true for a shape-based Flats and Packages service.

Commercial Letter





MAADC AADC 3D 5D Carrier Route High Density Saturation The Postal Service could take it a step further with the addition of Business Services within a shape-based Letter service where it can cluster together value-added services in the a la carte menu to offer segments of customers like financial institutions. The shape-based system would be segmented by shape, presort, and entry location. The chart above is just a simple example for letters. Each location has existing rules and preparatory requirements that could be maintained to provide consistency as transition occurs within the industry. Service standards are established by entry location today and would be maintained to ensure continuous predictability of delivery. Mailers and Mail Service Providers would then make mailing decisions based on the postal price per entry location versus the cost of presorting and transporting mail to get to a deeper dropship location. Accompanying this price chart would be the a la carte menu for value-added services that mailers would want or need to purchase based on the contents of its mailpiece. These value-added services would enable the Postal Service to support the needs of the marketplace while maintaining competitive prices.

Benefits of a Shape-Based System The simplification of product offering would be a major benefit of a shapebased system. The Postal Service would have fewer actual mail products, but more value-based offerings that would meet the needs of the changing marketplace. Mailer-applied intelligent mail barcodes, once required on all mailpieces for automation discounts, would allow the USPS to track and trace all mail, monitor the cost

and efficiency of mail through all stages of processing and distribution, and identify the actual costs associated with each mail type (class) in a manner that is superior to cost measurement techniques in the past. This would enable the Postal Service to pursue bottom-up costing while helping the industry maintain a lowest combined cost structure. The current price cap would be maintained, benefitting the industry with predictable and reliable prices. When you set the classes to have more homogeneous cost and handling characteristics, and when you determine costs using the intelligent mail system, you define your costs more precisely and unambiguously. This permits you to price mail to ensure profitability. As long as you strive to keep postal costs within inflationary bounds, the prices you set should always be sufficient to ensure your fiscal viability. And the Postal Service now seems committed to addressing costs in a manner that will ensure it remains within inflationary bounds. Consequently, living within a class-based, inflationary cap should be no problem at all. As the mailing industry adjusted to the new shape-based product offering, the Postal Service would see over time that this would reduce upstream mail-related operations and postal costs. Mail Service Providers would be able to consolidate more volume for deeper dropship locations because more mail would qualify under shape-based rules instead of class based rules and regulations. Jessica Dauer Lowrance is Executive Vice President, Association for Postal Commerce. You can contact her at 703.524.0096 or a MARCH - APRIL 2014


By Grant Miller



hat does the future of print and digital customer communications look like? How can executives anticipate and benefit from evolving trends? While every in-house mail department and mail service provider will have its own requirements, a common thread is emerging: To meet the demands of the next two, five or 10 years, executives will need an integrated omnichannel mail and delivery system. The five trends that follow can help executives anticipate and capitalize on evolving opportunities.


Executives must run profit – not just cost – centers It’s a new world for mail executives. One of the most critical challenges is how to best prepare for, balance and deploy physical and digital communications. That issue is at the heart of how executives generate revenue, attract and retain customers, up-sell and cross-sell. Executives must prove that their operations can be profit centers, not just perceived as cost centers. Many are under

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pressure to achieve quantum leaps in cost reduction. In the age of data crunching, they must demonstrate measurable outcomes in customer gains, efficiencies and other key metrics. They must also collaborate closely with colleagues in developing strategy and execution. When it comes to client outreach, there are more people than ever at the table, including marketing, client services, finance and IT, among others. Overall, the future model is focused on growth and committing to driving enhanced value, in addition to effective cost management.

Print, digital and parcel shipping integration is the new model Traditional models have been upended. One of the most significant shifts has been in direct mail. Direct mail volume has stabilized since its dramatic 20% drop from 2007 to 2009, according to Interquest data. The reality is it is still less robust than in the past. So for most mail operations, direct and transactional mail processing are no longer handled separately as a matter of course. In the face of change, some businesses have consolidated. Others have expanded their models. For example, printers are adding mail and parcel shipping capabilities and vice versa. Competitive channels, such as mobile, email and social, are growing. What does a forward-thinking model look like? To begin with, it’s more nuanced and comprehensive. The imperative is to create integrated campaigns that incorporate print, digital and in some cases, parcel shipping. Every option must be on the table. While the cost of direct mail is higher than the cost of digital delivery, according to the Harvard Business Review, it continues to deliver a better overall response rate, at 3.4%, compared with digital channels at 0.12% for email, according to the DMA. With the competitive landscape, and barrage of marketing and advertising, targeted customer communications are more important than ever. Most executives are finding that an integrated strategy, with channels reinforcing one another, can help them stand out and be more efficient.

munication piece is personalized, with the right message delivered at the optimum time through the customer’s preferred channel(s). For example, a customer may be eligible for a cellphone upgrade. That message can be communicated through a personal message on the outside of the billing envelope. It can also be reinforced through email messages or texts (with some consideration given to whether a customer has opted in to receive texts). The adage, “the customer is always right,” still holds true and is more important than ever.

Standardization makes it possible to be innovative and flexible While it may seem counterintuitive, the foundation for a modern mail and communication production system is standardization. The busy production mail operations often send out hundreds of thousands of differentiated pieces. With standardization, variables, from paper size to templates, can be streamlined and consistent across the brand. At the same time, flexibility allows each communication to be customized, boosting its impact. Another big benefit to “flexible standardization” is the opportunity to realize synergies. This is how businesses create better, more effective communications at a significantly lower cost. It also provides a firm footing for innovation.

Customer preference is the gold standard

Develop an integrated platform to support an omnichannel strategy

Savvy executives understand that the end goal is not just to deploy the latest technology or channel strategy. The objective is to meet customer preferences and find ways to develop and deliver communications that have maximum impact. First, customers want to choose their communication channels. They also want the flexibility to change their preferences. The consumer also expects a personal touch. Generic communications can appear as dated as a form letter addressed to “Dear sir or madam”. The modern com-

To create a futureforward operation, executives may have to update an existing platform and delivery system or institute a new one. The goal is an integrated system that supports omnichannel delivery and a single workstream, while delivering a robust track and trace capability. This is true for in-house mailers, service bureaus, government agencies and others. The challenge is to recognize that a change in strategy may create unforeseen consequences. What happens when you

convert clients to receive bills by email but it creates a paradigm shift of more paying their bills via a credit card? What went from a savings in mail costs is now higher costs for credit card processing fees. To begin the process of designing an integrated system that delivers on their objectives, executives can take the following steps: } Convene decision-makers: Conduct high-level discovery sessions to determine goals and future plans. Such goals might include adding 4-color promotional messages to transactional mail. Many more businesses are exploring this option and the expectation is that it will become commonplace. } Consult with experts: Executives can draw on their own knowledge and that of their colleagues. They can also consult with companies that specialize in mailing and communications programs. } Create a comprehensive plan: The plan should deliver the goals identified earlier in the process. The idea is to think big, bring together formerly disparate systems and give the overall system capabilities that far exceed current ones. The plan should not only solve immediate issues; it should anticipate how the business’s needs might evolve over two, five or 10 years. }

Determine equipment, hardware and software needs: Speak with experts to find out if your mail and print operation is optimized to achieve peak performance. Innovations in technology are making it possible to increase productivity and flexibility, while reducing overhead costs.

} Execute with care: Leave plenty of time to work out bugs and maximize performance. The world of mail and customer communication executives is more complex and challenging than ever. It is possible to successfully negotiate this new terrain, however. The key is an integrated platform and delivery system that communicates with customers in new and evolving ways and does it efficiently and cost-effectively. By adapting and anticipating change, executives can be heroes in their companies and leaders in their industry. Grant Miller is Vice President, Global Strategic Product Management, Pitney Bowes. a MARCH - APRIL 2014




ou may have dodged a bullet when the United States Postal Service (USPS) reluctantly deferred its January 26, 2014 Full-Service Intelligent Mail Barcode mandate. This deferment resulted from the ruling by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) that the mandatory implementation of Intelligent Mail Full-Service constituted a price increase in excess of the CPI cap. But, just because you dodged this requirement date does not mean that Full-Service isn’t coming your way. If you aren’t already 100% Full-Service, what can you expect in the very near future? Does this mean you can relax now? Actually, it may be more important for you to implement Full-Service now than it ever was before. Since the USPS was restricted from mandating Full-Service for automation rates right now, one alternative it may consider as an added incentive is increasing the current discounts for using Intelligent Mail Full-Service. So, if the USPS 22

does decide to sweeten the Full-Service discount pot, will you be ready to take advantage of those bigger discounts or will you continue to neglect that portion of any ROI and wait until a point that it completely removes ALL discounts? For that matter, will you be ready when a new Full-Service date is announced? The Postal Service has a number of options it can employ to get the industry to meet most of Full-Service’s requirements in order to qualify for postage discounts without actually implementing a mandate. Full-Service is required by the strategic initiatives the Postal Service is putting in place to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and better meet mail delivery standards. In other words, the Postal Service is heavily invested in Intelligent Mail Full-Service. And, I am sure if you are already using eDoc and IMb (which are requirements of Full-Service) you have seen marked improvements in your operation by being able to streamline mail processes. You may also note how the Postal Service is continuously launching new programs

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that require using eDoc, IMb’s and other services offered by the PostalOne! system.

Here are some highlights of what you can expect to see from the Postal Service this year: eInduction eInduction is intended to replace the current hardcopy PS Forms 8125 and 8017 clearance documents used for drop shipments of origin and destination mail. This is all part of a continuing effort by the USPS to convert hard copy postal documentation into electronic documentation. As part of this program, the USPS is equipping acceptance facilities with Surface Visibility (SV) scanners, which will scan the container barcodes to ascertain whether or not the containers have been properly verified and paid for at the origin post office. It provides a paperless induction method for validating container payments at the destination facilities. This innovative program provides mailers, logistics companies, and the Postal Service

facilities and promises to save mailers and the USPS a lot of time and money.

a cost-effective and automated validation system, along with an efficient and streamlined process for mail induction. eInduction was launched on November 17, 2013, and it promises mailers, logistics companies and the USPS a more streamlined process for drop shipping mail. If you drop ship, you owe it to yourself to take a good look at exactly how you can benefit from participating in eInduction and simplify the drop shipping process. To learn more about eInduction you can download a free White Paper, eInduction: a New Way to Save Time and Money when Drop Shipping Mail, which discusses what eInduction is, how it works, the benefits you can gain from it, how to participate, and how easy it is to implement. Simply visit The USPS is planning to have eInduction required in July 2015, so we urge you to begin investigating it now because we all know how fast time flies!

Seamless Acceptance Seamless Acceptance will help streamline and automate acceptance, verification, payment and induction of business mailings into the USPS mail stream. By employing unique IMb’s on mailpieces, handling units, and containers, and by submitting eDoc to the Postal Service, you can locate and fix errors prior to the actual mailing. You will be able to improve address accuracy, mail preparation quality, validate correct postage, and track mail. Seamless Acceptance uses sample scanning at induction and Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) scans to evaluate mail quality, payment, and location. The Seamless Acceptance program is already being tested at almost 200 mailing

If 90% or more of your mail is Full-Service, you can sign up for “parallel testing” right now. This does not change the way your mail is verified or expose you to any new assessments, but it does give you extra visibility into the qualification and accuracy of your mail and the data you provide. If measured errors are below allowed thresholds and your 30-day Full-Service percentage remains over 90%, you may be invited to participate in the “live” Seamless Acceptance program. Mailer benefits will include faster acceptance and verification and the ability to mail without many of the special mailing agreements that have been used for so long. For example, if you are using a batch manifest for non-identical letter and flats, once you go live with Seamless Acceptance, you can stop printing manifests and keylines on your mailpieces. Since you would have tested the accuracy of your data long before going live, there is little risk that problems with your data or process would lead to assessments. Though this fear has made some mailers reluctant to participate, other mailers are participating and reaping the additional benefits. Since these participating mailers have already transitioned to Full-Service

and addressed their mail and data quality issues, it really is a “win-win” for both the USPS and the mailer. If your company can do Full-Service mailings, but is not yet at 90%, now is the time to step it up and do all of your mailings as Full-Service. Some Mail Service Providers are only mailing under Full-Service for clients who request it, but having to maintain two different processes for Full-Service and Basic mailings can cost mailers far more than just doing all their mailings the same way and using Full-Service. Larger mailers made this transition some time ago, but smaller mailers have been slow to make Full-Service part of their core services. Though the USPS is likely to encourage larger mailers to participate in Seamless Acceptance first, mailers of almost any size can participate and benefit. This is one case where smaller companies — by being slower to adopt Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance — are giving their larger competitors an even greater competitive edge.

10 Digit Tray Tags No Longer Allowed as of 1/26/2014; Intelligent Mail Container Labels to Be Required on Pallets On Friday, December 27, 2013, the USPS filed a Federal Register Notice officially delaying the requirement to mail under Full-Service to qualify for Automation rates. It also reaffirmed that all other aspects of the Full-Service Requirements published in the November 15 Postal Bulletin still stand. This includes the sunsetting of the 10 Digit Tray tag format and the 1” sack label format, the required use of the Intelligent Mail Tray label with the 24 digit barcode and the use of the Intelligent Mail Container Label on pallets and rolling stock when such labels are required. Both barcodes have a 45-day uniqueness requirement. Though many mailers have already switched to the new formats for both Full-Service and Basic mailings, many assumed that the delay of the Full- Service mandate also delayed the requirement to use these labels. That is not the case. Mailers that still use 10 digit tray tags, 1” sack tags or non-barcoded pallet placards should immediately implement the new Intelligent Mail labels on all mailings. a MARCH - APRIL 2014


Enforcement of Penalties Although not officially announced yet, effective July 1, 2014 the Postal Service plans to charge financial penalties for FullService mailings that don’t meet all the Full-Service requirements. When these penalties are assessed, they will only bill the Full-Service discount (.001 or .003 cents per piece) — they will not force you to pay the non-automated presort rate.

Undocumented Pieces: If your pieces are not documented in your eDoc, that will raise another red flag for a fine. If your pieces are not included in eDoc, it makes it difficult for the Postal Service to decipher whether the pieces were actually mailed and paid for. Invoice reports for any penalties will be sent to the Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) 10 days after the end of each month. Mailers will need to designate their VAE for each CRID using the Business Customer Gateway. It is likely mailers will also be charged for “undocumented” Full-Service mailpieces processed by the USPS. Mailers will have the opportunity to review the invoicing reports and request a review if they feel any of the penalties are in error. You can view


Mail Quality Reports on the Business Customer Gateway to see the errors the USPS detects in your eDoc so that you can take corrective action long before July 1 arrives.

Mailer Scorecard Submitting mailing documentation in the form of eDoc is one of the major requirements for Full-Service. eDoc allows the Postal Service to easily determine if Full-Service requirements are being met by the mailers, and it will be using a “Mailer Scorecard” to assess and bill for errors. Make sure to review your Scorecard by visiting

of SSF 1.6 (parcel manifest file) and SSF detail address data requirements.

Promotions and Incentives The USPS has proposed eight promotion/ incentive programs for 2014, with the intent of increasing the value of transactional and direct mail. Some of the promotions include features that encourage businesses to use USPS shipping products. Visit and click on “Promotions & Incentives” for more information including the “2014 Promotions Calendar At-a-Glance.”

Prediction for 2014 Product Tracking and Reporting Parcel shippers are required to submit Shipping Services Files (SSF), not Mail. dat files, when submitting their eDoc. These SSF files are submitted directly to the USPS Product Tracking and Reporting database (PTR) or Electronic Verification System (eVS) when electronic manifesting and payment is desired. Unless mailers have an approved exemption filed with the USPS, there are fees for packages that do not meet thresholds for Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) use, submission

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The USPS will do whatever it can to make sure the industry implements Full-Service Intelligent Mail. Jeffrey Peoples is CEO & Founder, Window Book, Inc.

Want to read more about our prediction? Just scan the QR code!


Innovation in Document Output Management: Faster, Better, Cheaper Kern is a leader in document output management with a rich history of technology innovation and product “firsts” that spans over 60years. Kern continues that tradition in 2013, and looking forward, by helping customers with solutions that are faster, better, and at the most competitive total cost of ownership. In production mail, that means the Kern Ai-33 production inserting system that produces 33,000 mailpieces per hour, once again, the fastest in the industry. But excellence isn’t just about speed. Today, it’s about the intelligence and reliability to keep your production moving and with perfect accuracy. In production payment and ID card applications that means the Kern 90 and Kern 91 card attaching systems that integrate the process of personalizing, matching, attaching, and inserting your revenue critical plastic cards into finished mailpieces in a single process. But excellence isn’t just about process integration. Today, it’s about perfect personalization and customer trust.

In document management, that means following document output into electronic forms with Kern EDGE, the Electronic Document Gateway to the Enterprise. Kern EDGE combines a powerful and performant document archive with a flexible and configurable workflow engine, all managed “in the cloud”. Never before has it been faster to streamline your business processes by organizing your workflow and the supporting documents without the need for any capital investment. Kern will continue to provide world-class production mail platforms and innovate to follow document output wherever it goes. info@kerninc.can

By John Hankins

OPTIMIZING YOUR PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS Using digital technology to improve direct mail


n examination of the typical mailbox on any given day indicates that the direct mail industry continues to favor quantity over quality. But an examination of the marketplace indicates that this approach is under assault from both increasing costs — postal rates and other factors — and consumer expectations and generational shifts. In spite of these conflicting trends, there is good news for mailers. Not only are there a variety of tools and services available to significantly enhance the quality of direct mail; mail also continues to have the unique characteristic that every piece is viewed with human eyes. The key to success is to leverage digital tools that provide personalization and interactive content delivered via the Internet. This requires making mailpieces personally relevant to the recipient and using


the tools available to quickly and easily expand the content and message beyond print into the digital realm. In addition to leveraging these technologies, the USPS has gotten on board with a variety of incentives to promote both personalization and interactive content. A key component in linking the mailpiece to digital content is the mobile device. So an immediate challenge is, how do we get mail recipients to see the link between their mail and their mobile device? From a behavioral standpoint, it is a bit of a chicken and egg question, but the ball is clearly in the court of content development and distribution companies. There must be an expectation that a mailpiece contains a link to interactive content. This will only happen once there is widespread use of these existing and emerging technologies. Some of these technologies are presented below and represent a real opportunity for

MARCH - APRIL 2014 a

printers and mailers to bring more value to content owners and consumers. In addition to tools for linking the mailpiece to mobile devices, the content needs to be personalized using a VDP composition tool. Building a link to personalized digital content uses data that the mailer knows about the recipient; why not use that same data to build compelling personalized content into the mailpiece as well? But it all begins with the data. A mailing list can be built with data collected directly from customers or other microlevel activity or purchased from a list provider. In either case, there are numerous techniques available to build profiles and identify characteristics that can be used to build mailpieces with significant personal relevance. Ultimately, it’s vital to realize that good data and effective use of that data are the key building blocks to deliver-

ing targeted content that ultimately leads to a positive ROI. “Data is a tool, you have to use it right,” says John Leininger, Professor of Graphic Communications, Clemson University. “You can hammer in a screw, but it will not do the job right. You need the right screw and the correct size screwdriver to get the job done. Good data works, bad data kills the job.” So what are some of the print-to-digital tools that can be used to deliver content? } A pURL – a personalized URL that takes the recipient to a web site landing page that is built, typically on the fly, for that individual using data that has been collected or purchased to target the message. So a pURL such as would take Mr. Smith to a landing page which references his five year-old Chevy and invites him to visit his local dealer for a new minivan. The web page shows a picture of the new model minivan because the data shows that Mr. Smith is driving an older version of the same model. One downside to the pURL is that it requires the recipient to enter the URL into their browser which can reduce a recipient’s interest in using it, especially when compared with some of the other tools available. } QR Codes – can be personalized just like a pURL but because they are simply scanned with the mobile device, they provide easier, more immediate access to online content. Imagine targeted text along with an eye-catching QR Code on an envelope. The recipient pulls out her smartphone, is quickly linked to a personalized landing page that has additional engaging content, but also tells her to use her smartphone to access a coupon for lunch at a new local restaurant. QR Codes provide a route to adding creativity and relevance to mailpieces, ultimately working towards the goal of increasing the response rates on the piece’s call to action. } Hashtags – are most conducive to social media and are used to both tag and search for content. For example, a hashtag such as #mailtechnology would be used to publicize related content and create a community of interest around it. The concept of the hashtag is in many ways the opposite of a personal-

ized digital connection such as pURL. But building a community discussion may be just as powerful as personalized content. Including a hashtag in a direct mailpiece where the topic has been seeded with relevant content is a technique that has already been adopted in many TV and magazine ads. Hashtags in postings, first introduced by Twitter users, have since also been adopted by Instagram and Facebook. } Image Recognition (IR) – uses the mobile device to scan the image and link it to content on the Internet. This technology has a couple of interesting advantages, including the fact that it can be built from any image, a paragraph of text, a picture etc. Secondly, it is seamlessly embedded into content and does not require a dedicated, out of context image or space. But there are disadvantages. The first is that the actual content IR uses has limited personalization capabilities because it is impractical to alter that content on a person by person basis. However, one successful technique that is also frequently used with VDP is to vary content based on a high level category, such as age or marital status. In this case, scanning the image takes the recipient to a different landing page based on the image. Secondly, unlike QR Codes, there is no standard application for accessing IR, so the recipient must download a compatible third-party mobile app. } Digital Watermark – is an imperceptible and unique image pattern that is embedded in the content and can be used with both images and text. It does have a couple of advantages over IR. It can be personalized just like a QR Code and it supports variable interactive content based on the context of the image. For example, an automobile ad in a golf magazine could use a digital watermark with a link that includes a golf promotion while the same ad in a tennis publication can use a different watermark with a link relevant to tennis fans. A downside is that specific apps are required to both compose and consume digital watermark-enabled content. } Augmented Reality (AR) – offers more complexity and sophistication than the other tools discussed. With all of the other tools described here, the viewing

of the mailpiece content and the digital content are separate activities. Not so with AR. AR provides an augmented view of the printed content using digital technology. With AR, the reader takes their mobile device, places it over the printed content, and is able to view enhanced content through the mobile device. An example of this would be that the printed material shows an ad for a new car. Using AR, the reader holds their tablet over a car ad and is able to see the car being rotated 360 degrees, or the hood of the car pops open and the viewer gets a glimpse of the engine. The possibilities are endless. The same caveats as IR apply here. AR requires a specific app and is clearly most effective with visual images. But, it is an exceptionally cool technology and a great opportunity for direct mailers, printers, and their customers to differentiate themselves. Adding mobile devices into the equation also adds another dimension of personalization. Many of these applications capture location and preference information made available by the mobile device which provides the opportunity to introduce tailored content to the landing page. So scanning a QR Code on a mailpiece promotion at Starbucks can take me to a landing page that features a discount on my favorite latte and also provides directions to the nearest shop. It’s important to note that the USPS has developed a number of promotions for 2014 to incentivize mailers to use the technologies mentioned here. These provide discounts for both first class and standard rates for utilizing these tools. Documentation on these promotions can be found at: These types of programs are an excellent opportunity for printers and mailers to demonstrate more value to their customers. One of the most important things to remember is that all the razzle-dazzle is great, but without a marketing plan, a strong call to action, and high quality content on both the print and interactive media, the effort can be a waste of ink, paper and postage.

John Hankins is Strategic Program Manager, Production Print Cloud Services, Ricoh. a MARCH - APRIL 2014


SHOULD I PAY FOR A SHIPPING SYSTEM OR USE A FREE ONE? Here are some tips to help you decide. By Adam Lewenberg


et’s face it, managing shipping is not easy. You have so many carriers, classes, surcharges, paperwork and requirements that it can get overwhelming. On top of this, we all got a 4-8% increase this year from all of the carriers, and many organizations are looking for ways to reduce costs. Based on what you are shipping, it may or may not make sense to use the free carrier-provided software to process your packages. In this article, we will look at what factors you may need to consider, not only cost of shipment, but also from areas that may make your shipping process more efficient. The following tips will help you fully evaluate your choices.

Rate Shopping One of the main reasons that entities use third party shipping systems is because they have found significant savings by rate shopping packages based on cost and time of delivery. 28

Here are the most common ways this is helpful. 1. Comparing Rates and Delivery Times Within a Carrier - Most people who ship any significant volume have a negotiated discount with one of the private carriers. These carriers provide nocost shipping software either on their websites or with customized systems they set up in your office. The question is how easy it is to compare rates between service levels and delivery times. They can all show you the different rates for next day to ground service levels. But will they tell you that based on a destination ZIP Code, the ground package may get there faster and less expensively than a two or three day shipment? Most private party systems will do this calculation for you. 2. Comparing Rates Between Carriers – The USPS is having its fastest growth in the shipping market. The primary reason is that we are all buying

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more items that are being shipped to our homes. Regardless of your carrier discount, the USPS may be less expensive for items weighing less than 10LB, which the table on the next page explains. The issue is that it depends on the factors related to that particular package to determine if your negotiated private carrier rates or the USPS will be less expensive. This is where third party shipping systems prevail. 3. Comparing Rates Between Small Parcel and LTL - To be able to use one system to compare 100 weight shipments sent through your small parcel carrier to your LTL provider. Also, to process bills of lading from the same platform.

What to Look for in a Shipping System There are many feature sets that will be important in determining if you need a third party shipping system. Here are

some additional functions where these systems shine: } Data Connectivity – If shipping is the core part of your business, this is the most important feature in a system. How are you going to get the data from your order entry system (address, requested date of delivery etc.) to your shipping system, and then be able to write back information about that shipment (tracking number, estimated delivery date and shipping costs). This can be done real time or as a batch process at the end of the day. Depending on your relationship with your carrier, they may be willing to do some of this integration for you. This is the core item that should be discussed with the carriers and third party providers. } Rules Enforcement – Many companies want to put constraints on how their people ship items. This is important with desktop users who may not be educated in the carrier rules or in shipping, where you need to control how packages are processed. An example is only specific users are allowed to ship Next Day Early AM because it is an additional $30 per package charge over 10:30 AM delivery. Rules can be set up across all carriers and service levels, and can be defined by the traffic managers who are educated in the best ways to ship. } Enterprise Access – New shipping systems can allow you to process packages from multiple sites and by thousands of potential users working in offices or out of their homes. As these systems expand, so does their cost, so keep in mind the core needs of the application. } Internet Postage – As we saw in the rate shopping example, many systems will be able to process postage on the same type of thermal label as the private carriers. This will include tracking information.

} EDI Rating – Third party systems used to have rates that were sent on a DVD once per year, but this has changed where most rates are connected real time through an EDI interface to the carriers. This is far superior because you are using the most up to date discount levels and terms for your particular carrier agreement. } Inbound Processing – Some third party shipping systems will integrate with inbound tracking systems. In one place, you have the visibility to all of the incoming and outgoing shipments for your organization. This is especially helpful when items are moving from different locations inside your entity because it allows you to track from the desktop where it originated to the desktop that finally received it. } Reporting – All systems will have standard reporting but you may have more detailed needs around how the data is formatted or made searchable. } Third Party Partnerships – Many thirdparty shipping system providers will partner with companies that offer different value added areas that may benefit you and should be considered. Here are some examples: } Freight auditors that will find overcharges in your invoices } Parcel contract negotiators } Third party parcel insurers } HazMat support providers

Choosing the Right Supplier Assuming that you are now convinced that you need a third party shipping system, there are many areas that should go into your final decision. } Ease of Use – Look at the screens and make sure it is something your operators will be able to use and understand. This system may be used in your ship-





ping area or by casual users who want to ship from their desktops. Vendor Support – How are they going customize your system, train your staff and support you when there is an issue? Will they have people on site or will it all be from a remote support model? Features – All of the items that were mentioned above are going to be different for each provider. Make sure the system you are looking at can do everything you need. References – Make sure that you can find similar types of entities locally using this system that are happy with the software and support. Pricing – I left this for last because it deserves the most attention. These systems can range dramatically from the thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars based on what you are asking the system to do. I would strongly recommend getting at least two quotes. Pay close attention to the costs they are putting in the professional services sections (programming and training) because this can vary drastically between providers.

There is nothing wrong with the systems provided by the carriers. In some cases, based on your relationship, they will do some customization to make the system work better for you. Third-party shipping systems have a cost and should be justified with the added value from the items mentioned above. Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recover firm in the United States. Their mission is to help entities with large numbers of locations reduce mail related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or a MARCH - APRIL 2014


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Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2014  

Mailing Systems Technology March/April 2014

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