Mailing Systems Technology May/June 2024

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TABLE OF CONTENTS DEPARTMENTS 05 Editor's Note Connecting at the Crossroads By Amanda Armendariz 06 Real-Life Management Put Your Mask on First! By Wes Friesen 08 The Trenches Affordable Content Marketing for Print/Mail Operations By Mike Porter 10 Inkjet Info Direct Mail: Your VIP Pass to Effective Marketing Communications By Karen Kimerer 12 Postal Insights Adventures in Zone 10 By Leo Raymond 14 Intro to International Mail The Leveling of Package Volumes By Merry Law SPONSORED CONTENT 16 BOOTHS TO STOP & SEE AT NPF MAY-JUNE 2024 | VOLUME 27 ISSUE 3 FEATURES 18 As an Industry, It’s Time to Do Something! Five key actions to make every mail piece count. By Christopher O’Brien 20 Are You Prepared for a Security Audit? Part two of our two-part series focuses on external audits. By Steve Berman 22 Automated Direct Mail and Your Response Rates By Dave Lewis 24 June 30, 2024 Forced USPS Postage Meter Migration: Are You Ready? By Adam Lewenberg 26 Grow Through the Power of Connections By Mark Fallon and Neal Fedderman 28 The USPS Price Change Turning lemons into lemonade. By Kathleen Siviter 18 24 26 20 SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE 4 MAY-JUNE 2024 |



President Chad Griepentrog

Publisher Ken Waddell

Editor Amanda Armendariz

Contributing Writers

Steve Berman, Mark Fallon, Wes Friesen, Karen Kimerer, Merry Law, Adam Lewenberg, Dave Lewis, Christopher O’Brien, Mike Porter, Leo Raymond, Kathleen J. Siviter

Audience Development Manager

Rachel Chapman

Advertising Ken Waddell


Design Kelli Cooke

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Fax: 608.241.8666



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(ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 37 Issue 2] is published six times per year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by MadMen3, PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices.


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The May/June issue of Mailing Systems Technology is always one of my favorites because of it being our NPF show issue. The National Postal Forum is one of the absolute best ways for print and mail professionals to connect, learn, network, and grow, and I look forward to hopefully meeting many of you this year in Indianapolis. “Connecting at the Crossroads” is certainly an appropriate slogan for this year’s show, as some of the best and brightest minds in the industry converge on Indy for an exciting, knowledge-packed four days.

As many of you know, a common refrain in my editor’s notes is how important it is for those in the industry to band together to ensure both the success of our individual operations and the Postal Service itself. I like to think that this May/ June issue encompasses the ideal of cooperation between organizations and the industry. For example, Christopher O’Brien’s piece on page 18 gives readers a “good, better, best” approach to making every mail piece count, thereby minimizing postage costs while maximizing the effectiveness of the items entering the mail stream. We all know that declining

mail volumes are a concern, but given the effectiveness of direct mail when it comes to communicating with customers, it should never be an option that is taken off the table.

Unfortunately, many mailers may feel compelled to reduce their postage spend given the multiple price increases each year that the USPS has been implementing, and while these feelings are certainly understandable, Kathleen Siviter gives some great ideas to minimize the pain of these increases on page 28.

Topics like these are just a few of all that NPF will offer; I’m so excited to attend and learn from some of the top experts in the industry. After all, for our industry to succeed, it’s important that we work together. I’d love to hear your ideas about how to ensure mail remains a viable channel for many years to come. If you’re going to be in Indianapolis, let’s chat.

As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology. | MAY-JUNE 2024 5


Every time we fly, we hear the safety briefing that in case of an emergency “put on your oxygen mask first before helping others.” This is an example illustrating the principle that we need to care for ourselves (self-care) so that we can better take care of others. Author Parker Palmer summarized by saying, “Self-care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” Intentionally pursuing self-care has many benefits to ourselves and those we are trying to serve, such as:

Enhanced Resilience. We face a myriad of challenges, from dealing with operational problems like equipment and technology issues to dealing with people conflicts to keeping our customers happy. Self-care helps build our resilience so we can successfully address these challenges.

Role Modeling. We can set a good example for our team members and model the things we would like them to do and benefit from.

Higher Productivity. When we are healthy and taking time to recharge and rejuvenate, our performance improves — and so will the performance of our teams.

Become Happier and More Positive. When we take care of ourselves well, we enjoy life more and are healthier, more positive, and better equipped to serve others.

Tips for Practicing Self-Care

Here are 10 tips to help us on our selfcare journey:

1. Choose and Commit to Self-Care. I agree with Tony Robbins when he said, “Realize that the hardest step in achieving anything is making a true commitment.”

2. Set Boundaries. It is healthy for us to set clear boundaries between work and our personal life. This includes knowing our limits, and designating times for work-related activities versus personal times. Dr. Travis Bradberry recommends scheduling “me” time on our daily calendars to prevent burnout and support a healthy work-life balance.

3. Pursue Positivity. Numerous studies have shown that optimists and positive people are physically and psychologically healthier than pessimists and negative thinkers. One way to become more positive is to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” by contemplating what we are thankful for. We can also remember the advice of Jim Rohn, who suggests we become like the five people we spend the most time with — so we can choose to have our closest friends be positive thinkers.

4. Take Care of Our Physical Health. The basics for good physical health are well known — but not consistently practiced. Being physically healthy improves the quality and expected quantity (length) of our lives. When we are physically healthy, we are happier, have more energy, are more productive, and are stronger mentally (“the body feeds the mind”). Proven keys to being physically healthy include:

Eat healthily. We can benefit from reducing fat, sugar, refined flour, and salt intake, and increasing whole grains

and fresh fruits and vegetables. By the way — one of the best things I have ever heard is that dark chocolate is good for us!

Exercise (move) regularly. Exercise revs our body’s production of feel-good endorphins, can help regulate our sleep, lowers the symptoms associated with mild depression, boosts our energy, and helps us remain calmer and more focused, all of which can go a long way toward good health and stress management. For me, I especially enjoy walks with my wife.

Get enough sleep and rest. Experts say that most adults need at least seven hours of sleep to function optimally. It may be tempting to scrimp on sleep to get more work done, but there is a price to pay if we do. Numerous studies have found a link between insufficient sleep and serious health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

5. Take Care of Our Mental Health. Exercising our mind (brain) is one important key to good mental health. Here are a couple of important ways we can exercise and develop our minds:

Life-long learning. I am inspired by the example of Pablo Casals, who bore the nickname “Mr. Cellist.” A young reporter once asked, “Mr. Casals, you are ninety-five and the greatest cellist who ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Casals smiled and said, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

Reading. The simplest and most straightforward way to expand our mind and keep our brain sharp is by reading. Joseph Addison was right when he said, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Puzzles and other mental activities. A recent study found that those who pursued various kinds of cognitive activity — including doing puzzles — were 47% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who undertook such activities infrequently.

6. Practice Self-Awareness. Practicing self-awareness is the starting point for being Emotionally Intelligent (EQ). And extensive research has shown that EQ is more important than IQ for our success and helps us and those that we serve and interact with. We can work to improve our self-awareness by analyzing our feelings and what they are teaching us. We can intentionally seek feedback from others like a mentor and/or one or two close friends on how others perceive us.


7. Give Ourselves Grace and Extend Grace to Others. We can sometimes feel like everything rests on our shoulders, creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Alternatively, we can partner with our team members and others, so we avoid beating ourselves up unfairly. We can also extend grace to others, realizing that life events (e.g., health issues, family crises) can throw people off.

8. Managing Stress Effectively. We know that stress is unavoidable, and in moderation can help us be more productive. But too much stress is unhealthy and inhibits our effectiveness. So, learning ways to manage stress is important. Ideas to consider include getting fresh air, listening to relaxing music, controlling our breathing, and taking time to play or do something fun.

9. Cultivate Hobbies and Interests. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is to make time for activities that bring us joy and fulfillment outside of work. For me, I enjoy sports, reading, and listening to music. What nourishes your soul and adds joy to your life?

10. Nurture Meaningful Connections and Personal Relationships. A recent Surgeon General’s report found that the number one health issue we face is the lack of social connections. Harvard has conducted an 85-year monumental study on long-term happiness and health. The key? Having close, loving relationships! So, how do we develop meaningful, close, and loving relationships? Here are some ideas:

Build emotional bank accounts. We have emotional bank accounts with people in our lives. We make “deposits” by our positive actions and words — including writing letters and notes, phone calls, texts, social media messages, small gifts, and favors and the like. We make withdrawals by our negative actions and words.

Practice the magical 5:1 ratio. The Magical 5:1 ratio means we should have at least five positive statements or interactions with people for every negative/critical statement or interaction. Multiple independent studies have landed on the importance of the 5:1 ratio, including the landmark work by Dr. John Gottman. In one study using the 5:1 ratio as the standard, he and his colleagues predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce by scoring their positive and negative interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed that they had predicted divorce with 94% accuracy!

Laugh, have fun, and shed tears when proper. Laughter and having fun are good for our physical and mental health — and when done with others helps to build better relationships. Spending enjoyable time with others eating meals, playing games, and attending fun events all help build personal connections. There are also times to empathize and even shed tears when others are going through tough times.

Here is a closing quote from author Katie Reed, “Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Let’s practice good self-care and give the world our best! 

Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA, ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high-performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. His book, Your Team Can Soar!, has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you and give you practical pointers to help you — and your team — soar to new heights of performance. Wes can be contacted at or at 971.806.0812.



The benefits of content marketing are within the reach of any print or mail service provider, regardless of how limited your budget might be. Items like blog articles, white papers, customer case studies, social media, or press releases might sound expensive, but content like this helps establish a trustworthy reputation in your marketplace — without breaking the bank. Content marketing is not only for the big players. It’s an accessible and effective strategy for organizations of all sizes to communicate their brand values, engage their target audience, and drive growth.

Near Zero-Budget Marketing

It’s possible to create and execute impactful content marketing strategies on a near-zero budget. This takes time, perseverance, and a little talent — nothing worthwhile is available for free. However, you can generate lots of results without writing big checks.

Content marketing is about sharing relevant, useful, or interesting material with your current or future customers. It’s an opportunity to engage your market and transform your print and mail business from a simple service provider to a trusted industry expert and thought leader.

Something I really like about informational content for the print/mail industry is longevity. Most of what you publish today will still be relevant years from

now. Given the lifespan of useful content, it’s a smart investment.

What’s It Cost?

Producing your own blog posts and articles or conducting customer case studies require nothing more than time, effort, and a good understanding of your audience’s needs and preferences. Similarly, leveraging social media channels is free unless you choose to invest in paid advertising. You can even implement email marketing on a minimal budget using free or cost-effective services.

If you plan to do your own content generation, the only cost is time. A mistake many print/mail industry companies make, however, is assigning content creation to someone in their organization that already has full-time responsibilities. This practice has been the downfall of many DIY content marketing plans. If you expect someone to create and promote informational content for your business, you must allow them time to get it done.

You may decide you can’t allocate the time necessary to handle content generation and promotion in-house. In that case, you’ll be looking for writers, marketers, or social media experts to handle the tasks. Your costs can vary with this approach and it’s often a case of “getting what you pay for.”

The printing and mailing business, specifically your printing and mailing busi-

ness, is a specialized niche. A writer with little experience in relevant areas will produce dubious results. I’ve been told by clients who tried this route that the time they spent directing the writers and correcting the articles was longer than if they’d written the articles themselves. Help you get from people with a wealth of industry knowledge will be more expensive. However, you’ll likely benefit from minimal editing and correction time. These resources may even suggest topics your business should cover, based on their knowledge of the marketplace and your objectives and audiences.

What About AI?

You may think generative AI tools like ChatGPT eliminate the need for you or your staff to handle content-generation. AI is a wonderful tool that can shorten the time necessary to create informational content. It won’t be able to do everything you need, however, and could cause you to publish errors or misleading statements unless a human is involved in the content creation process.

As content-generators, we’ve kept a close eye on AI developments as they relate to the document industry. We’ve found that even the latest tools produce less than ideal results when covering specific topics in the print and mail business. Use AI to help with content creation. Just don’t count on it to do the complete job for you.

Building Trust and Credibility

Content marketing is an effective way to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge in the print and mail business. By sharing topical articles, deep dive white papers, and other content, you make customers feel you’re a valuable partner interested in their success. Customer relationships nurtured by relevant informational content keep them on board and engaged with your company.

Creating unique informational content can strengthen your reputation as a leader in your industry. Your brand becomes synonymous with trustworthiness and reliability. Through effectively crafted content, you can offer insights into industry trends, new technology, or regulatory changes that impact your customers’ businesses via their print and mail activities. This keeps your customers well-informed and highlights your proactive approach to keep them ahead of the curve.

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Customer testimonials or case studies showcase how your service meets the needs and solves the issues of real customers. Authentic stories validate your brand’s claims and show the quality of your service.

Engaging Blog Articles

Blog articles are a versatile and inexpensive form of content marketing that can significantly boost your brand identity. A steady supply of new blog articles helps with SEO efforts, a critical marketing strategy when paid ads are expensive because of highly competitive pay-per-click keywords. Blog articles draw your audience to your website where you can show them more content and encourage interaction.

Start by identifying your customers’ interests. You should choose your blog topics to focus on areas relevant to your customer’s business, not your own.

Consistency is one key to blogging success. Make a commitment to release new content regularly. This keeps your website fresh, preserves audience engagement, and can lead to improved search engine rankings. Aim to create a diverse range of content that includes how-to guides, in-depth features, and solution-oriented articles that address your customers’ biggest pain points.

Be personable and helpful in your tone and let your passion for your business and industry shine through. Your content should be void of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and organizational mistakes.

Writing and posting blog articles is just the first step. Next, you must take action to get the attention of your audience. Create social media campaigns to highlight the main points of your articles and drive readers to read the full version on your website. Blog articles are also easily adapted as email newsletters, printed newsletters, and magazine articles.

White Papers and Case Studies

White papers serve as a go-to source for in-depth information about products, technologies, and methods — which makes them invaluable tools of authority in the print and mail industry.

Marketers frequently use white papers as lead magnets. Add your white paper as a downloadable resource on your website and require readers to supply contact information to access this valuable content. Shine a spotlight on your successes! Transform positive customer expe-

riences into customer case studies — testaments to the practicality and utility of your services. When prospective clients see real-life examples of organizations benefiting from your services, it lends credibility to your claims and allows them to visualize similar success for themselves.

Highly targeted and relevant content like well-crafted white papers and customer case studies can be a powerful addition to your marketing toolbox. They seamlessly integrate with your content marketing strategy, nurturing leads and further establishing a trustworthy reputation in the marketplace.

Embrace the power of content marketing, and you’ll notice a change in your brand’s appeal, credibility, and reach.

Press Releases for Maximum Exposure

The nice thing about press releases is their potential to get your message in front of audiences you wouldn’t otherwise reach. This requires the services of an agency that can place your press releases in widely read publications or websites. This service obviously comes with a fee.

Paid press release distribution, however, can be worth it. One of our clients recently issued a press release that garnered thousands of impressions and hundreds of visits to their website landing page. The syndication enabled by the PR firm generated much more interest than would have been possible with only a notice on their site or in social media. Press releases are also indexed by the search engines. Links to the press releases turn up often in search results.

Video Content: A Powerful Tool for Print and Mail Services

In today’s digital age, video has become one of the most influential forms of content marketing. It provides a unique way to exhibit your services visually, engage

with your audience, and effectively communicate your brand’s story. Video is a way to reach an audience you might otherwise miss.

Visual components like video content can help simplify complex ideas and make them easier to understand. For instance, printing processes or postal logistics can be complex and difficult to grasp. Through video, you’re able to break down these processes and explain them in an engaging, easy-to-digest manner.

Video production doesn’t have to cost a lot. With the current technology and tools available, you can create high-quality videos without a hefty budget. All you need is a good story to tell, a smartphone camera, and inexpensive software. Your videos do not need to be Hollywood quality productions, just authentic and relatable.

Video production companies may charge thousands of dollars for short videos. Sometimes you may want to use such professionals, but you can also do a pretty good job on your own with a small investment.

The goal with video is to captivate your audience by providing them with engaging and valuable content. Video can bring a significant return on investment, lead to more conversions, nurture existing leads, and strengthen your brand’s position in the market.

Lots of Benefits, Low Cost

Embrace the power of content marketing, and you’ll notice a change in your brand’s appeal, credibility, and reach. Transformation does not happen overnight. It takes a while for the influence of content in multiple forms and distributed in a variety of ways to make a difference.

The low-cost for print and mail service providers to start and maintain an effective content marketing strategy makes it very attractive to companies in this industry. It’s not about the scale of your budget, but the strength of your content strategy. 

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content that helps attract and retain customers for companies in the document industry and he assists companies as they integrate new technology. Learn more about his services at Follow @PMCmike on X, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn. | MAY-JUNE 2024 9


Imagine yourself stepping into a tradeshow that is overflowing with swarms of people, all vying for your attention. Each booth bombards you with flashy displays, loud music, and salespeople eager to pitch their products. It can be overwhelming. Sadly, even the best marketing messages can get lost in the noise and chaos. What’s worse is that once you leave the venue, it's hard to remember anything specific and you’ll likely miss the opportunity to explore something truly valuable to you and your organization.

This is exactly what can happen with an all-digital marketing strategy. Modern customers are bombarded with emails, social media ads, and website pop-ups. As a result, important messages can get lost in the digital clutter — which is why brands of all sizes are rethinking direct mail and its value as a viable communication channel. Direct mail is a tangible communication that lands right in a potential customer's mailbox, demanding their attention in a way that a digital message can't. It’s like receiving a VIP pass to a quieter and more focused tradeshow experience, where your time and attention is valued.

Still, one of the most debated topics in marketing is where to allocate resources and determine which marketing channels offer the best return on investment. Many marketers still don't understand

how direct mail can complement digital channels to drive better results. This article tackles that topic and provides talking points that mail and print service providers (PSPs) can use to bring the conversation to the table and help their customers make sound marketing decisions.

To achieve customer communication excellence, brands must demonstrate continuous improvement and a willingness to surpass the status quo.

Bridging Traditional and Digital Marketing for Measurable Results

Though often seen as a traditional marketing tactic, direct mail continues to prove its relevance in our digital age. Market leaders recognize that it’s one of

the best channels for measuring results. Moreover, direct mail is a key contender in driving results when used to complement an omni-channel approach. The National Postal Forum (NPF) is focusing on collaboration, innovation, and excellence this year, and it's no coincidence that direct mail stands out as a medium that aligns perfectly with these values.

Collaboration and Direct Mail

Keypoint Intelligence’s recently released Vertical Visions multi-client study revealed that across all vertical industries surveyed, nearly three-quarters agree that they are increasing the use of print marketing (direct mail) because digital alone does not produce sufficient response rates (see Figure 1).

Marketers are warming up to the value of taking a collaborative approach with digital and physical marketing channels. As a result, brands of all sizes are positioned to be seen and heard.

Innovation in Print Communications

Innovation in print communications means introducing new ideas, methods, products, or services that create value and meet your customers' needs in a novel or improved way. It often involves breaking away from traditional thinking. From interactive elements to unique formats, there are endless possibilities to make direct mail pieces stand out. A perfect example is the most recent marketing campaign from Planet Fitness, which chose to stand out by mailing poster-sized postcards to promote new memberships. This technique created an effect that would be very difficult to replicate with email. Then there’s the simple example of a “Just Listed” real estate postcard that embeds a QR code with clear instructions to “scan me for a video walkthrough.” These are both examples of a standalone marketing campaign that used design elements to grab (and hold) the attention of their intended audience rather than taking a conservative approach.

The biggest challenge with innovation is adopting a capacity for zero mindset. To put this another way, many marketers may find it difficult to start from scratch. As a mail and print service provider, it's up to you to help your brand owners reimagine the possibilities of direct mail. Today's cutting-edge printing techniques and creative design make


Agreement with Statement about Media Split

creating a memorable experience easier than ever before all while showcasing a brand's commitment to the customer experience.

When we think back to that VIP Pass that enables a quieter and more focused experience, nothing has more impact than a personalized message in making a lasting impression on the recipient. As such, it should come as no surprise that over 56% of respondents to Keypoint Intelligence’s vertical visions research that send personalized or versioned direct mail are seeing significantly higher response rates.


To achieve customer communication excellence, brands must demonstrate continuous improvement and a willingness to surpass the status quo. Organizations spend hours seeking opportunities to improve customer loyalty and differentiate themselves from their competitors. According to Bain & Company, businesses can grow revenues between four percent and eight percent above their market when they prioritize a better customer experience. Exceptional communications are a quick way to surpass the ordinary. It's up to those of us in the print communications industry to show our customers what great looks like.

If you haven’t already updated your portfolio of direct mail samples and best practices, don't delay! Take the opportunity to create a narrative that highlights the uniqueness of each mail piece and the impact it had on the marketing campaign’s objective. It’s all the better if you can share the response rates and conversions, but the story doesn’t stop there. When you can explain why the piece worked, you can clean the slate for new ideas.

Direct mail remains a steadfast strategy for businesses that are aiming to exhibit their commitment to excellence and their endeavor to enhance customer experiences. It's more than just a communication tool—it's a canvas for creativity. By transforming the mundane into the unforgettable, direct mail sets the stage for extraordinary brand encounters.

Transforming Quantity into Quality

The sheer volume of direct mail sent each month is staggering. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s vertical visions research, companies with 500 to 999 employees send between 51,000 and 75,000 mail pieces every month. This is a substantial number, but it shouldn’t be seen as a logistical hurdle. This vast number of mail pieces

represents a tremendous opportunity to connect with a massive audience. By crafting compelling direct mail campaigns, businesses can turn pieces of paper into powerful tools for reaching new customers and strengthening relationships with existing ones.

Direct mail can represent a goldmine for PSPs that understand the power of connection. While some businesses might see direct mail solely in terms of volume and per-piece pricing, forward-thinking PSPs can position themselves as strategic partners. By initiating conversations that focus on the customer experience, these providers demonstrate their ability to go beyond just printing and mailing. They can offer expertise in crafting targeted messaging, personalization techniques, and even integrating direct mail with digital marketing efforts for a truly omnichannel experience. This shift in focus, from volume to value, enables PSPs to build stronger relationships with their clients and solidify their role as essential partners in driving customer connections and brand loyalty.

The Bottom Line

Customer acquisition costs continue to skyrocket, making it crucial for brands to keep their customers happy for the long game. Imagine the benefits if marketers could offer every single prospect and customer that A-list feeling without the hassle of velvet ropes. Direct mail offers a tangible and impactful way to communicate with customers, especially when the digital channel is overcrowded. By bridging traditional and digital marketing efforts, businesses can achieve measurable results and create memorable brand experiences. PSPs play a crucial role in this process by helping brands rethink value over volume with direct mail. By focusing on the objective of each campaign, PSPs can offer strategic guidance and elevate their role to become collaborators in driving customer connections and brand loyalty. 

Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products. | MAY-JUNE 2024 11
Figure 1


For decades, postage rates for some mail pieces have been zoned, with prices basically scaled to the distance between the place of mailing and the location of the addressee. Twenty years ago, there were nine zones (“Local” and 1-8); in 2014, a ninth zone was established that applied to items addressed to places in the far western Pacific.

Last November 22, the Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission to establish a Zone 10. Zone 10 rates would apply to Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, and USPS Ground Advantage packages that originate (1) in the lower 48 States and destined to Alaska, Hawaii, or the US territories (which include Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and territories in the Pacific, including Guam and American Samoa); (2) in Alaska and destined to Hawaii or the US territories; (3) in Hawaii or a territory in the Pacific Ocean and destined to Alaska, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands; and (4) in Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands and destined to Alaska, Hawaii, or a territory in the Pacific Ocean. Zone 10 prices would not apply to packages that originate in Alaska, Hawaii, or the US territories and are destined to the lower 48 states. As proposed, the prices would be five percent higher than those that took effect

on January 21. The USPS stated in its filing that, if approved, Zone 10 prices would be effective at a future date, but no sooner than July 1, 2024.

The Postal Service claimed that Zone 10 prices “will better align with the zoning practices of [its] competitors, who currently have separate zones for offshore destinations,” noting that they “charge significantly more for shipments from the lower 48 states to offshore locations than for shipments in the reverse direction.” The Postal Service added that its decision to establish Zone 10 was “cost-based in nature” because “[t]he cost of transport to offshore locations is higher on average than it is to transport to non-offshore destinations.”

On March 22, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the Postal Service’s proposal, which is where the adventure begins.

In its order approving the rates, the commission noted that its statutory role is limited to reviewing proposed USPS prices to ensure their legality. As it explained,

“Despite significant concerns with the policy implications of the proposed changes and the Postal Service’s handling of this proposal, the Commission recognizes that its role in reviewing proposed Competitive product rate and classification changes is extremely lim-

ited by law. The Commission approves the proposed price and classification changes as consistent with applicable law and finds that it has no legal basis to reject the proposed changes. At the same time, the Commission is concerned that the Postal Service’s proposal does not reflect reasoned consideration of the potential widespread effects of its proposal, is not prudent, and is not consistent with the best interests of all stakeholders. The Commission strongly encourages the Postal Service and the Governors to give this proposal further consideration and study in light of the overwhelming number of substantive concerns ex-pressed in the record by Postal Service customers and stakeholders before determining whether it is prudent or necessary to establish a new Zone 10 for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, and USPS Ground Advantage and implementing new Zone 10 prices.”

The commission had received over two dozen comments, many from Alaska’s federal and state legislators, with all but one (ironically, from the PRC’s “Public Representative”) opposing the USPS proposal. As the commission noted:

“Several commenters discuss what they view as the Postal Service’s obligation to serve and its history of serving all Americans at non-discriminatory prices… Several commenters assert that the Postal Service is a public service, and not a business, and state that the Postal Service is unfairly singling out offshore areas for disparate treatment and contributions to revenue…

“Several commenters question whether shipping services to Alaska or other offshore areas are part of a competitive market given the lack of alternatives available…”

Somewhat uncharacteristically, but just as significantly, the commission devoted about one-third of its order to address matters outside its narrow statutory authority:

“…the Commission is concerned that the Postal Service’s proposal may not be prudent and that the Postal Service has not given its proposal adequate consideration and study. Thus, the Commission would be remiss if it did not raise the several concerns it has with the Postal Service’s proposal and approach.

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“…The Postal Service… acknowledges that it did not complete ‘market research, customer impact studies, surveys, focus groups, and/or testing with alternative prices to determine the impacts of adding Zone 10 prices’ and asserts that it ‘did not find it necessary to conduct’ such advance study.

“…The Postal Service’s lack of advance study and research into the effects of its proposal is concerning as is the fact that the Postal Service has deemed such study unnecessary… [T]he Commission is concerned that the Postal Service’s proposal may not be prudent and strongly encourages the Postal Service and the Governors to give this proposal further consideration and study before determining whether to establish a new Zone 10 and implement new Zone 10 prices.”

The commission also questioned the lack of support for the Postal Service’s claims of higher costs:

“…[T]he Postal Service’s failure to determine actual Zone 10 transportation costs in advance of its initial filing is concerning… Given this, the Commission directs the Postal Service to file a rulemaking proceeding proposing and supporting the methodological changes necessary to derive separate Zone 10 transportation costs for Priority Mail and USPS Ground Advantage within 90 days of the date of this Order.”

The PRC also addressed the issue of universal service:

“Several commenters assert that the Postal Service has an obligation as a public service and pursuant to its universal service obligation to serve all areas of the country equally and at non-discriminatory prices… Although the universal service obligation requires that the Postal Service serve all areas of the nation, nothing in current law requires the Postal Service to ensure equal prices for Competitive products across all areas of the United States…

“The law also contains the more general requirements [that] impose clear legal obligations on the Postal Service and its Governors. However, the Commission does not have enforcement authority over… those provisions…”

To some observers, the myopic pursuit of additional revenue through Zone 10 prices without any evaluation of the

market response or impact on customers is emblematic of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s arbitrary and high-handed attitude. Likely aware (and indifferent) that the PRC could do nothing about any issues outside its statutory role, and that the PRC could not require the USPS to give more than passing response to commenters’ concerns, DeJoy saw little reason to not ratchet up prices where USPS competitors may already be charging more.

The Postal Service claimed that Zone 10 prices “will better align with the zoning practices of [its] competitors, who currently have separate zones for offshore destinations.”

The commission was clearly frustrated that its legal charter does not allow it to go beyond the simple numbers when reviewing a postal pricing proposal but nonetheless opened a Public Inquiry docket (PI2024-2) “to explore the appropriate classification of Zone 10 packages pursuant to 39 USC 3642 and whether the implementation of Zone 10 prices raises a material issue of fact concerning whether a violation of 39 USC 403(c) has occurred if the Postal Service elects to implement the Zone 10 prices.”

(39 USC 403(c) bans “undue or unreasonable discrimination among users of the mails.” 39 USC 3642(b)(1) defines competitive products, and 39 USC 3642(b)(3) requires “due regard… be given to … the views of those who use the product involved… and the likely impact of the proposed action on small business concerns.”

As stated in its order establishing the inquiry docket, the PRC noted that, in its order approving Zone 10 prices,

“[t]he Commission also identified two areas that were particularly suited to further exploration in a separate public inquiry proceeding: (1) the question of whether Zone 10 packages are appropriately classified as Competitive products … and (2) the question of whether the implementation of Zone 10 prices raises a material issue of fact concerning whether a violation of 39 USC 403(c) has occurred if the Postal Service elects to implement the Zone 10 prices.”

The PRC appointed a presiding officer for the docket who also will serve “in an investigatory role.” The PRC further directed that “once the presiding officer serving as investigator has sufficient information” to make a determination on either matter, “the presiding officer shall file a public, written report to the Commission in this proceeding detailing his analysis and recommendations to the Commission on that issue.” In turn, “Upon receipt of these reports, the Commission will consider if further action in this docket or separate proceedings is appropriate.”

The PRC neither established a procedural schedule for the docket nor set a deadline by which the aforementioned reports were due. However, the commission clearly expects that its “investigator” will gather a wide range of information. The mandate to dig as deep as needed was obvious.

Though much dust has been kicked up by the Postal Service’s Zone 10 plans, it’s yet to be seen whether that will deter the agency’s leadership from implementing Zone 10 as planned. 

Leo Raymond is Owner and Managing Director at Mailers Hub LLC. He can be reached at This article is based on information from a recent Mailers Hub newsletter. | MAY-JUNE 2024 13


Beginning in the first quarter of 2020, the world quickly went from a few ill with a new coronavirus to shutting down international passenger flights, office closures, and stay-home orders. Depending on where someone lived, the disruptions and lockdowns lasted for 18 months or more. As we all know, this was followed by major supply chain problems.

For many, the home delivery of everything from clothes to groceries to medicines to toys to office supplies became the main way to get what they needed — or wanted. This was accompanied by closures of retail stores and restaurants, some of which never reopened. Some restaurants began take out or delivery service rather than in-restaurant table service. This created a phenomenal increase in packages delivered to individuals and families, small businesses, and those working at home. And it happened almost worldwide.

In most countries, this increase was a boon for the country’s postal service, as well as other delivery companies. (Some postal services suffered under shutdown or essential business regulations during the pandemic.) While much of this increased volume was domestic, a substantial increase in international package volumes also occurred. Analysts predicted a continuing increase as consumers found the convenience

of home delivery preferable to retail shopping. International volumes were also predicted to grow as consumers enjoyed access to goods from other countries with lower prices or with limited local availability.

Shortly before the beginning of the pandemic, the EU countries and others began imposing import duties and taxes on small imports sent directly to consumers. That has expanded to additional countries and to, at least theoretically, more through controls on imports. The increase in duties and other taxes has raided the cost of goods from other countries to consumers. While international consumer orders increased during the pandemic, international delivery became more difficult, including increased paperwork and tax payments.

Following the pandemic, some early signs emerged that the increased volume of small packages to consumers might not continue, particularly in the international sphere. Retail shops and restaurants reopened. Consumers began purchasing more selectively from domestic sources or those in neighboring countries and in countries with close ties to their own country. Online sellers looked to mitigate international fulfillment costs by establishing alternatives to shipping to consumers from their home country.

Recent studies are indicating package volumes sent direct to consumers may

be leveling off, with a lessening of the decline in volume. Studies also show some mixed trends. Some demographic groups of consumers are acting quite differently from others in the same country. Consumers in different countries are also showing significant differences in ordering for home delivery. Whether the levelling off and the trends will ultimately result in higher or lower volumes remains to be seen.

Following the pandemic, some early signs emerged that the increased volume of small packages to consumers might not continue, particularly in the international sphere.

Unlike letter mail, packages can be delivered by private delivery companies which actively market their services. Internationally, private carriers offer more services to assist with the estimation and payment of duty and taxes, although the postal operators are beginning to offer some similar assistance. The proportion of packages that will be allotted to the private carriers and to the postal services going forward is unknowable.

What is clear is that package volumes are not going to be sufficient to solve the problems of the Global Postal Network. 

Merry Law is President of WorldVu LLC and the editor of Guide to Worldwide Postal-Code and Address Formats. She is a member of the UPU’s Addressing Work Group and of the U.S. International Postal and Delivery Services Federal Advisory Committee.



Visit Anchor Software in Booth 1201 for information on our newest mailing and postal processing solutions. Our software is known for blazing speed, timely updates, and amazing technical support, so take a few minutes and stop by Booth 1201 to see if we can help with your biggest mailing concerns. Not in the market for mailing software right now? No problem. Connect with us to see if we can help with any future needs or enjoy our in-booth events and grab some cool Anchor swag. See you there! | | 800.237.1921

It’s time to proactively act to address strategic postal changes. Put the BCC Software Do Something! mailer initiative into action for you in booth #709. Learn the 5 actions to take now to automate your postal workflow, reduce UAA mail, increase mail value, and mitigate mailer scorecard mishaps. Share your top action, and we will show you how to Do Something! for your mailing operation today with the latest releases of mailing preparation software and data quality services. Act now to book a meeting time at: event/national-postal-forum/.

Stop by booth #1010 to learn how you can simplify Certified Mail with ConfirmDelivery — our solution that empowers seamless tracking and delivery management. Whether you are looking to save on postage, reduce overhead, or streamline your mail process, our experts will guide you through the easy setup process. With no monthly fees to pay, no contracts to track, or software to purchase, you will not want to miss out.

your unique operation pain points with our


Learn how you can get the lowest postal rates on Priority Mail and Ground Advantage with access to the

rate card. Witness the scalable power of our Chameleon parcel processing system, demonstrating the ultimate efficiency and accuracy in customizable, modular parcel sorting. Head to the exhibit floor and look for the booth with the brightest lights — Don’t miss this opportunity to discover how our solutions can revolutionize your operation!

As the recognized expert and US leader in postal optimization, we are about to revolutionize the way logistics gets done. Enru partners with mailers, shippers, carriers, and drivers to gather crucial real-time data and process it in a way that improves our ability to manage disruptions. The network becomes more efficient and predictable, giving you greater confidence and control over your shipments without sacrificing cost. Whether you are a shipper looking for greater visibility, a mailer looking to earn the best postage discounts, or a carrier looking to maximize your asset utilization, Enru is here to make it make sense. | Letstalk@Enru.Io | 888.242.3218

free sample package showcasing our extensive range of custom envelopes. Experience firsthand why we’re thrilled about our cutting-edge W+D 628 Web Flexo Printer — revolutionizing envelope printing with unprecedented precision and efficiency. Learn how our innovative solutions can elevate your mailing impact with high-quality, accurately crafted envelopes. Join us to see how Goelzer Industries leads with technology and commitment to excellence. See you there!

Stop by to meet our experienced team and engage in discussions about your production inserting needs. Whether you’re seeking advice on optimizing your current operations or exploring the latest innovations in inserting technology, Kern’s experts are equipped to provide valuable insight and solutions tailored to your requirements. Don’t miss the chance to connect with us and discover how Kern can elevate your mailing processes to new heights. We look forward to seeing

BOOTH # 1201 BOOTH # 709
| | 888.960.6245 BOOTH # 1010 Solve | 800.350.6450 | BOOTH # 1010 Visit Goelzer Industries at Booth #938 during the National Postal Forum and discover the future of envelope production. Don’t miss your chance to receive a
BOOTH # 938
complete suite
solutions at booth #1010.
USPS merchant
1111! | | 614.317.2600 BOOTH # 1111 NPF attendees should prioritize a visit to SupremeX at booth 533 to experience unparalleled solutions in mail packaging. As a consistent, predictable, and reliable partner, SupremeX provides a breadth of products, technical expertise, and production scale that satisfies your envelope and packaging needs. Our postal-optimized packaging solutions ensure efficient mail handling and delivery, while customized manufacturing abilities support qualification for USPS promotions, maximizing savings and benefits. SupremeX operates 16 North American manufacturing facilities and has strong relationships with top-tier suppliers, which provides a robust business continuity platform and ensures uninterrupted supply. We look forward to meeting and discussing your needs. | | 800.361.6659 BOOTH # 533 Tritek has been a trusted provider of custom-built equipment for US Government agencies, Fortune 100 and 500 companies, and private sector corporations worldwide for 40 years. We take pride in our ability to deliver state-of-the-art solutions that meet the most demanding requirements. We specialize in the design, development, and manufacturing of mail and parcel sorting equipment, OCR readers, document imaging and processing equipment, barcode readers, and mail processing software including software for vote by mail envelope verification. Our focus on quality and customer satisfaction has enabled us to build a reputation as a trusted partner in the mailing technology industry. | | 302.223.4065 BOOTH # 1325 | 770.427.4203 BOOTH # 930
you at Booth
At Kirk-Rudy’s booth (#930), the FireJet 4C and the G4 UV inkjet printer will be on display. The FireJet 4c is an all-in-one four-color inkjet printing system capable of printing up to 18,000 #10 envelopes in full color (CMYK) per hour. The G4 is their newest mail addressing inkjet printer. This monochrome UV printing system can replace existing cartridge-based systems and pays for itself in no time due to greater ink cost savings. The clean design, simple to operate interface, and low maintenance process ensure rapid implementation and high production of mail addressing. The G4 features a 4.25” wide print width. |


Five key actions to make every mail piece count.

Under the leadership of PMG Louis DeJoy, the USPS is actively implementing bold and necessary changes to the largest postal delivery network in the world as part of its Delivering For America (DFA) plan. When completed, it will transform an outdated, costly, and inefficient system into an optimized and enhanced integrated mail and package delivery network designed for future growth and sustainability.

The mailing industry has many questions about the new network and its innovative enhancements, but the real question is what the industry is doing to support and align to this bold initiative. We cannot afford to be spectators and do nothing! To get you started, here are five key actions — each with a Good, Better, Best approach, for you to do something today to make every mail piece count.

Reduce Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) Mail

While progress has been made to improve address quality over the years, there were still more than 4.3 billion pieces of UAA mail in FY2023. Over 3.5 billion of that was treated as waste or returned to sender. What a waste of valuable resources, and what a lost opportunity for the mailer. So, let’s do something about that and improve the value of mail and simultaneously increase response rates with deliverable as addressed mail pieces.

Good: Use USPS CASS-certified software to make sure the address is complete and correct. This is the foundation for address quality — and with CASS Cycle O, there are new return codes you can leverage to correct address errors.

Better: Use NCOALink and Proprietary Change of Address (PCOA) to make sure the address is current. Did you know that the USPS processes over 33 million changes of address (more than the entire population of Texas) each year? But it is likely only 60% of the changes are actually reported. By using a USPS full-service NCOALink provider and leveraging a PCOA service, you can keep up with customers on the move and achieve a complete, correct, and current address.

Best: Leverage suppression services to remove ineffective mail pieces such as those sent to deceased individuals. Sending mail to a deceased individual is not only ineffective, but it may even be considered offensive. By removing these addresses, you improve the response rate, control mailing costs, and potentially replace the address with someone that can respond.

Increase the Value of Mail with USPS Promotions

Do you want to maximize your mail value and simultaneously mitigate postage increases? Then take advantage of USPS promotions to grow your business to make every mail piece count. You may already be eligible for these promotions or just need one more item to qualify. So, let’s maximize your mailing with USPS promotions as you may find it easier to participate than you thought.

Good: Add a call to action on the mail piece to trigger a voice-assisted device and earn a three percent discount. This is part of the Emerging Technology promotion and has a basic and advanced level earning three to four percent, depending on how you implement it. Plus, you can start the six-month window anytime in 2024.

Better: Leverage Informed Delivery by uploading a color replacement image of the mail piece to earn a four percent discount. Did you know that over 52 million people (more than three times the population of Florida) have already signed up for Informed Delivery? What a terrific way to bridge the high touch of mail to hi-tech messaging for multichannel marketing and earn a discount!

Best: Excite and delight the mail recipient with an interactive mail piece element such as a clean release card or tactile sensory treatment such as glossy stock to earn a five percent discount. Another worthwhile option would be to add a full color (two or more) personalized onsert message to your transactional document promoting a related product and earn a three percent discount.

Automate Your Mailing Workflow

Attrition or the loss of key employees can be difficult to replace quickly and can cripple your business. Presorting can often take hours to perform, especially as sortation schemes are getting more complex. There simply is not enough time in the day to grow your business unless you automate your mailing workflow. Level up your mailing workflow with an automated approach to attract and retain employees and grow your business.

Good: Add an automated script to your normal presort workflows to facilitate mail processing and ensure a consistent process.

Better: Create a hot folder that will automatically run predefined scripts for unattended processing. This is also a fantastic way to

18 MAY-JUNE 2024 |
1 2 3

implement a web-to-print solution, which is another proven avenue to grow your business.

Best: Implement a data visualization workflow solution with extensible functionality to enable easy job setup and modifications. An intuitive interface not only helps visualize mail processing, but it can also expedite the learning curve of presorting and even attract new talent to your business.

Manage Time-Sensitive In-Home Mailings

tolerance, and postage assessments can be costly and difficult to recoup, resulting in higher postage and missed opportunities. Get proactive about mitigating Mailer Scorecard assessments to protect your postage discounts.

Good: Check your Mailer Scorecard at least two to three times per week to make sure you don’t have any surprises.

Better: Use a Mailer Scorecard monitoring service to actively monitor and alert you if you are in danger of an assessment.

Multichannel marketing demands specifically timed arrival of mail pieces, and with USPS network enhancements changing dynamically, mail tracking is essential. Also, by strategically inducting mail into the USPS network, you can further reduce postage and have greater control for in-home delivery of time-sensitive mailings.

Good: Use mail tracking services for accountability, visibility, and predictability of arrival of the mail piece.

Better: Strategically induct mail into the dynamically changing USPS network to gain destination entry discounts and control time sensitive mailings.

Best: Use a post-presort logistics planning solution that leverages Mail.dat to consolidate mailings for additional presort discounts and maximize destination entry discounts for commingled shipments of multiple mailings.

Mitigate Mailer Scorecard Mishaps

Eligibility for USPS presorted discounts have very tight tolerances. It often doesn’t take much to exceed the monthly allowed 4 5

Best: Enroll in Seamless Acceptance to earn $1 per thousand pieces incentive and leverage a post-presort tool leveraging Mail. dat to help resolve Mailer Scorecard assessments.

The DFA plan is the USPS response to do something about its network to ensure future growth, sustainability, and support of green initiatives to benefit our planet. What are you doing to support this bold initiative and grow your business? It’s time to do something to align with the DFA and make every mail piece count! 

Christopher O’Brien is President of BCC Software, a BlueCrest company. He has been active in the mailing industry for 30 years with 18 of them at Quadient (formerly Neopost) where held a number of leadership roles including Vice President of Sales, President of US Mailing, and Executive Vice President of Business Processing Automation. With expertise in Parcel Solution Management and a proven track record, he has also driven innovation as Head of North America Business Process Automation. Visit www. and to learn more about the innovative software, equipment, and services or stop by Booth 709 while attending the National Postal Forum. | MAY-JUNE 2024 19


Part 2: External Audits

“The auditors are here!” Your blood runs cold, like seeing red and blue flashing lights in the rearview mirror. You needn’t worry. An external audit doesn’t have to incite fear and horror. In fact, the process can be affirming, a strengthening experience for service companies that deal with sensitive client data.

In part one of this two-part series, we dealt with internal audits and best practices to conduct an effective assessment using company resources and staff (if you missed it, visit Here, we will deal with external audits, which are conducted by independent professionals certified in their particular field of practice.

Let’s review: Auditing is a process by which organizations and leaders learn how well policies and procedures are followed, how closely the company’s documentation describes actual practices and how effective those processes are in achieving organizational goals. Auditing is about measuring and testing — creating a good security, financial, or quality posture.

Internal audits are conducted by a company’s staff, who have familiarized themselves with the policies, procedures, and

practices. Internal auditors must also learn specific controls associated with a security or financial standard — a framework — that has been tailored to fit the organization’s business operations. Company management commissions and charters internal audits with senior managers setting the timeline, objectives, and scope for the audit team. The results of an internal audit are designed to closely mimic the findings that an external audit would produce, so there should be no surprises when an external audit occurs.

Now it’s time for the external audit. It’s easy to get lost in forests of buzzwords, certifications, and claims made by audit firms. Here are some tips for a successful external audit that won’t freeze your blood.

Selecting an Audit Firm

Senior management is in charge of this process, which includes engaging an audit firm. Don’t let outside influences overly affect this process; just because a key client or supplier uses a goldplated national audit firm doesn’t mean that your organization must also use them. Your organization is paying for the audit and the firm you engage works for you. Select them with the same care you would use for any other service provider.

Check their certifications, references, and prior engagements. Ensure they possess the kind of experience with the same types of organizations as yours — we are in the mailing business. It will make life much easier if you don’t have to explain your business practices over and over to an auditor who is unfamiliar with the industry. For SOC 1 (financial control) audits, you want to ensure the firm will assign a licensed CPA to your engagement. For SOC 2 (security) audits, look for credentials like Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) or Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). If you offer payments, you may want to select a firm that also conducts PCI-DSS assessments using a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA), even if you don’t sign up for the assessment.

Finally, don’t be afraid to negotiate price. Interview several firms and let them know they are competing for your business. Even if you have used the same firm for years, it is a good practice to get a quote from a different firm now and then. In fact, many auditors recommend that you change audit teams every three to five years, just to ensure the company and audit firm don’t get into too comfortable a rhythm and overlook important items.

Scoping and Scheduling the Audit

Most importantly, someone must be in charge of dealing with the audit firm. Do not overlook this. Many times, senior management will negotiate and approve the engagement and leave the “details” to underlings. Be sure to intentionally name someone on staff, and their backup, to be the liaisons and ensure the lead auditors meet those individuals as early as possible.

Work with your audit firm and their team to determine the scope of controls they will be examining. If your internal audit team determined that a particular set of controls does not apply, share that with the external auditors. It wastes time and creates unnecessary confusion for the external auditors to request evidence for items you never intended to include in the scope. It is far better to resolve any conflicts before the audit.

Schedule the audit with plenty of time for your team and their team to prepare. A rushed audit schedule is stressful, not just for you and your staff, but also for the external auditors. Go over the audit schedule with your team and the external auditors. Specifically, ensure milestones are established for “populations”

20 MAY-JUNE 2024 |

and “evidence.” A population is a list of all items that could be included in audit evidence, such as a list of employees as of a particular date or a list of clients. From the population list, the auditors will select a set of items for which they require evidence to satisfy control standards. Knowing when the auditors require the populations and when they will supply the set requiring evidence (and specifically, which evidence) is key to a problem-free audit. Nobody likes surprises or ambushes.

On-Site and Off-Site Responsibilities

Audit firms typically have some kind of web-based data management tool for their evidence, controls, and follow-up questions. Before the start of the audit, ensure the proper individuals in your organization have credentials to use that system, and that individuals who are not part of the audit team do not have access to areas about which they have no “need to know.” It’s incredibly frustrating not to be able to upload evidence when it’s required, but it’s even more disheartening when a person who shouldn’t have access attempts to “correct” something to cover up a deficiency, spoiling many hours of billable work.

The schedule should lay out what information is to be collected on-site, who will be interviewed, and what systems and processes will be observed. Do not let auditors simply walk around your facility with a clipboard and a pen. That’s not auditing. If certain information to be collected on-site is not available, let the auditors know and give them an indication of when they can expect to have it.

Know who is responsible for any “portal” work with audit standards organizations. For example, HITRUST requires their portal to

be used to upload all evidence in an assessment. Is this the responsibility of the auditors or is it your organization’s responsibility?

When the on-site portion of the audit is complete, the audit itself is not done. Most times, auditors will continue to require evidence, explanations, or responses as they prepare their report. Your engagement and schedule should spell out when draft reports are due and when to expect final reports.

Be Honest

This goes without saying. Be honest with your auditors. If you are unprepared for a portion of the audit, tell them. If you do not have a particular bit of evidence, explain why. Getting defensive or deceptive only makes the audit more stressful. Your organization is paying professional auditors to prepare a report and findings according to well recognized standards about which they are trained and certified. There is no need to force ethics, which are always strictly enforced, to become an issue. Senior management should not fear findings that require remediation and attention. That’s the purpose of the audit, after all.

Any organization should be proud of the effort required to obtain a “clean” audit; it’s worthy of celebration. A successful audit occurs when all the applicable controls have been tested and measured, resulting in a stronger company with less risk, whether that is in financial controls, cybersecurity, or quality.

This article is part 2 of a 2-part series on security audits. Part 1 focused on internal audits. 

Steve Berman is the Director of Risk and Compliance for DATAMATX. Steve has been involved in cybersecurity for over 25 years, and has a CISSP certification.



automated /'ôdə ' mādəd,'ädə ' mādəd/


1. operated by largely automatic equipment.

"a fully automated process"

“Can you write another article?” Amanda asked. "The topic is: 'Could automated direct mail increase your customer response rate?'"

“Sure!” I replied. I just needed to figure out what “automated direct mail” was. I mean, I thought I knew, but I needed to be sure. I turned to my most powerful research tool — Google — which was predictably unhelpful. It seemed that automated direct mail was often a product name, or a software package.

So, what is automated direct mail, and can it indeed improve response rates?

I think I prefer the term “coordinated marketing” to “automated direct mail.” Tying together multiple efforts is virtually always going to improve response. It’s the same principle as in sales — one seldom makes a sale on the first attempt. Generally, it takes a number of sales calls to close the deal.

Direct mail is a terrific marketing channel. Recent studies by ANA and the Winterberry Group showed that direct mail had the highest return on investment of

any direct marketing channel. Still, here are some inherent weaknesses to direct mail that need to be overcome:

1. It’s expensive. Sorry, but it is. A direct mail effort typically costs anywhere from $.40 a piece to $1.00 a piece, and nothing about it is getting less expensive. Postage, paper, and labor keep going up. But direct mail is an investment, and most often a good one — but you want to be sure to maximize the value you get from every piece of mail.

2. Direct mail requires effort to respond. There are no “buy now” buttons on a mail piece. A QR code is as close as you get. To respond, a prospect needs to go to a website, or call someone, or maybe mail off a check. You can send the right offer to the right person at the right time and still not make the sale, because they set that piece of mail on the kitchen counter and forgot it. Countless sales have been lost on the walk from the mailbox to the kitchen.

Coordinating your marketing efforts can help overcome the shortcomings of direct mail alone by raising interest and providing more opportunities to respond. Here is one approach you may consider.

First, soften the target before the mail ever gets there. You can send emails in advance of the mail piece. Today’s mail tracking and predictive analytics can allow you to deliver an email a day or two ahead of the mail. Email is an inexpensive chan-

nel — that can be both a strength and a weakness. By itself, response rates — or even open rates — can be low, but it can deliver a brand impression. Your real effort is yet to arrive. Another obvious way to deliver an early brand impression is Informed Delivery. Informed Delivery costs almost nothing (sometimes less than nothing — USPS might pay you to use it), and it is a perfectly timed message in an email that comes from the Postal Service that typically has a 70% open rate. Your prospect will see an image of the piece — or the image you replace it with — as well as a button that can take them to your offer landing page. This morning email builds anticipation for the mail piece that is about to be delivered. If the offer is right, your prospect should be all atingle by the time they gather their mail from the mailbox.

As we said above, that doesn’t promise a response — they still have that long walk from the mailbox. But another email on the evening they received the mail piece (or maybe the next day — you need to test the optimum time) reminds them of that offer that so entranced them and gives them another avenue of response.

What?! They still didn’t respond? No problem — you have another email ready to go a day or two later — another chance to respond. You have also learned something about your prospect at this point that may make them a better prospect. Did they open your email? More than one of

22 MAY-JUNE 2024 |

them? Email stats will deliver that information. Are they an Informed Delivery subscriber? Did they open the Informed Delivery email? Maybe they have multiple subscribers in the same household. You can learn this from your Informed Delivery post-campaign data, and again narrow down your best prospects. Informed Delivery subscribers tend to be more engaged with their mail, by definition.

Armed with this data, you can send another more targeted mailing to your most likely prospects. Don’t forget to include all the other channels in those efforts also.

There are a lot of variables that will impact how you create your campaign — email list availability, other channels available, like social media or other web-based channels, and your budget. The key is to coordinate them into a campaign. Don’t ever just do a “mailing” — they’re too expensive on their own. Make it a campaign.

The essential tools to doing this successfully are planning, measurement, and the right business rules. The best campaigns are flow-charted before they begin. Anticipate every action that may occur, and have

a next step planned. If a prospect opens an email, record it. If they don’t, they may go into a different pot. If they go to your landing page — good for you! Record it. Huh? They still didn’t buy? Record that too. Consider retargeting to give them another chance.

As you gather data from your first efforts, use it to create your next effort — aimed at a better qualified audience based on what you already learned.

A great tool for coordinating all of these efforts is Informed Visibility. Every piece

of mail can be tracked so you are reacting accordingly. Just because mail was delivered in one location, doesn’t mean it was delivered everywhere the same day — or even the same week. Use every scan event for each piece of mail as a trigger for another action in your campaign. Be sure to have an action planned no matter what they may do.

As you gather data from your first efforts, use it to create your next effort — aimed at a better qualified audience based on what you already learned. Maybe a small mailing — retargeting those who abandoned your landing page or opened your email. Timing counts — it should all be a coordinated campaign around the same offer, the same theme. This is where automation comes in. Have every next step cued and ready to go. Deploy it based on your business rules and your plan.

When it is all done, you should have new customers or donors, and a more refined list for your next campaign. 

Dave Lewis is President, SnailWorks. He can be reached at | MAY-JUNE 2024 23


The USPS is having one of its largest forced postage meter migrations in the history of the mailing equipment industry. This will impact an estimated 50% of the devices in the United States with a short window to make the changes. We wrote about this in the May/ June 2023 issue of Mailing Systems Technology but felt it is more important than ever to update the facts since the deadline is so close. In this article, we will cover what you need to know about the change, how to gain visibility to your equipment, agreements, and terms, as well as what options you should consider for the future.

The USPS is decertifying all Information Based Indicia (IBI) postage meters by June 30, 2024. New devices need to be Intelligent Mail Indicia (IMI) compliant. The USPS is giving a grace period until the end of 2024, but your meter vendor may have different requirements that will force you to update sooner. We are hearing that service, meter refills, and inventory may be more difficult during the grace period, so we strongly recommend having a plan in place for this change.

Here is what you need to know:

Current IBI devices will need to be replaced with new devices and cannot be retrofitted.

The USPS is doing this to provide a higher level of security and visibility.

Devices will need to be constantly connected to the internet vs. only at the time of refill/updates.

We estimate that 50% of the postage meters in the United States will not

meet this new standard and will need to be replaced with the potential for supply chain issues.

This is one of the largest meter migrations in the history of the Postal Service due to the large number of devices impacted by the changes. There have been other USPS forced migrations in the past to get to new metering standards. Examples include requiring meters to fill by a phone call vs. taking to the USPS, needing meters to fill through a modem vs. the phone, needing to have a two-dimensional barcode in the meter imprint and others that have impacted the mailing market. The significance of this one is the high percentage of meters impacted by this change in a relatively short period of time. In past migrations, a large percentage of the nation’s meters had been already moved to the new technology through normal meter renewal cycles.

The USPS states that it is making these changes for the following reasons:

To better automate its operations

To adhere to higher security specifications due to the rise in threats and challenges

To validate correct postage amounts

To issue refunds automatically through the device

To have more control over what mail is entering the network

If you want to see the specifics of this change, you can do a search for the Federal Register “Authorization to Manufacture and Distribute Postage Evidencing Systems” Document Citation 85 FR 78234.

Impacted Devices

The chart on the next page is a listing of the devices that we believe are impacted by this change. You should validate your specific device with your meter vendor to make sure our table is correct or to check if there have been any changes.

What You Need to Do

The most important thing is to create visibility to the equipment you have throughout your locations. You need to know the following:

Account numbers for your equipment and leases

Equipment models (to see if they match the list in the chart) and serial numbers so you can gain access to the vendors’ web portals.

Contract expiration dates – Some of this equipment will be on leases or rentals that could expire in the future or be on evergreen agreements.

Mail volumes – It is important to know how much postage is being processed to better plan for rightsizing the future equipment.

Features needed – In the new solution, what is required for feeding, weighing, accounting, etc.

If you have multiple locations in your organization, we recommend starting with accounts payable to see where you have spend, getting copies of invoices, linking the details on the vendor websites, and have the vendors fill in any blanks to the spend. This is the easiest way to gain

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30, 2024 FORCED USPS

complete visibility to the equipment to see which devices will be impacted by this change.

Rightsizing Opportunities

As a rule of thumb, if you get the same level of equipment as you have today, you will most likely increase your costs. The question is, is this really needed? Mail volumes have gone down, online technologies have gotten better, current features may not be needed, and by validating the requirements with your end users, you can dramatically reduce costs. Here are some cost reduction examples:

Does the internal weighing systems and automatic feeding systems justify the costs based on your mail volumes?

Can you live with lower weight capacity scales because heavier items are typically going UPS/FedEx, or there are other scales that can be used onsite?

Are all the features in the current mailing system being fully utilized? Examples: mail accounting, custom weighing, conveyor stackers, special services, etc.

Can online postage be an option vs. low volume meters? There are 20% postage savings for parcels and can be expanded to UPS and FedEx processing.

Enterprise Online Postage Options

When we look at a typical company, we find that they have a scattering of mailing solutions throughout their locations. Some have meters, some will use online solutions, some courier small volume mail to hub locations for processing and others send users to the USPS to buy stamps at a five to 20% premium in postage. This is all because of the location needed to

justify the cost of the equipment based on their mail volumes. Also, most organizations have little visibility to any of the mail spends or controls to how things are processed. You compare this to UPS or FedEx, who have one online platform where all users process items in the same way, and where the client has complete visibility to the spends and detailed reports for proper chargeback. With people working from home or in small offices, in many cases it is easier to send a $15 overnight vs. a $.64 letter.

The fastest growth segment in the mailing industry is enterprise online postage platforms that can be used across the organization to support all locations and users. These platforms can be set up with one enterprise fee vs. by location, and are a fraction of the cost of other solutions. When we implement these systems, we are typically saving 70-90% of their metering equipment cost while providing a solution for all locations where many had been previously underserved. These platforms add the following benefits that are not available with meters:

Five to 70% savings on USPS parcels

Certified Mail functionality with electronic return receipts at $1.35 savings. This includes USPS Firm Mailing Book creation and one central repository for all Return Receipt signatures.

Single Sign-On to eliminate the need for usernames and passwords and to automatically remove users that leave the company.

Real-time rate shopping with between USPS, UPS, and FedEx to make sure users are selecting the proper carrier and service at the lowest cost.

With the need to inventory all current equipment to see what is not compliant with these new USPS mandates, it is a great time to question if these platforms make sense vs. needing to replace with new postage meters, especially at the mid- to low-volume segment where most locations fall.


There are only a couple of months left before many of the postage meters inside your organization will need to be replaced. There is a lot of work required (inventory all the current equipment, collect requirements from your end users, order the new solutions, make sure they are installed, and old equipment is removed), so it is recommended to give yourself as much time as possible, especially if there are supply chain issues with the mailing equipment vendors. If this conversion is not managed properly, you will spend more money on the new required solutions. With the proper oversight, visibility, rightsizing, and online postage options explored, there are large savings opportunities that can make you more efficient for the future. 

Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President/CEO of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest shipping & mail equipment fleet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multi-locations reduce mail and parcel related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2011, they have helped their clients save an average of 56% and over $88 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at | MAY-JUNE 2024 25


“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight — one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives.”U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Do you feel lonely, isolated? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably, “Yes.” And it’s time we talk about the epidemic of loneliness and the need for change.

In May of 2023, the Surgeon General’s office released an advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community. The report calls out the harm caused by the epidemic — to society and individuals. Our physical and mental health are directly impacted by the lack of social connections.

The Advisory lays out the framework for a national strategy based on six foundational pillars:

Strengthen Social Infrastructure

Enact Pro-Connection Public Policies

Mobilize the Health Sector

Reform Digital Environments

Deepen Our Knowledge

Cultivate a Culture of Connection

The last pillar — cultivating a culture of connection — is one that relies on the actions of individuals and leaders.

To grow our connections, we need to network and meet people. This can be difficult for anyone who may be shy or introverted. But it’s a necessary first step. As Harvey Mackay reminds us, “For most people, networking is learned behavior, like learning to swim. It is a gradual — and often painful, even scary — process of trial and error, small incremental steps, and finally a few breakthroughs.”

When meeting someone, look for the ways you’re similar, not different. For example, everyone reading Mailing Systems Technology has something in common — we all work in mail!

In a conversation, notice what the person says that relates directly or indirectly to you. To be remembered, be interested, not interesting. Don’t try and impress people with stories of your own achievements. Let them have the spotlight, and show an interest in what they’re talking about.

If you’re going to an event, don’t go alone. Attach yourself to someone that is already a good networker. Hang with them as they work the room. They’ll help you meet new people.

Don’t be afraid to practice. Remember, this is a skill. Before going to an event, remind yourself that you’re going to network. Prepare to go up to people and introduce yourself. This doesn’t make you any less genuine. It makes you prepared.

We need to understand that making — and building — connections goes beyond networking. Too often, we may only look at networking as another method of increasing sales or finding a new job. We may see connections on LinkedIn and Facebook as a way to further a personal agenda. Networking may be seen by some as a means to an end, with success measured by how much you get from your network.

This approach is only half-correct. Yes, you need to network to be successful in business. Your network will connect you to the people and companies that will hire you, or buy your product or service. There may be people looking for someone with your talents and abilities, and they’ll only be able to find you if you network — in person and online.

With that in mind, we need to better understand the difference between social media “friends” and real connections. Email, messaging, and social media have helped connect us to families and friends. With just a few clicks, we can share news or photos with our network. We can keep up to date with the events in other people’s lives. When needed, we can express support — publicly or privately — for someone facing a difficult time.

But mobile apps and computer screens will never replace the joy of being with those we love. A photograph can’t capture the smile in a person’s eyes as they tell a story. Reading “LOL”

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is nothing compared to hearing the hearty laugh in the middle of a conversation. And emoticons will never carry the power of a hug.

Speaking of hugs, physical touching is essential to our psychological health. From babies in maternity wards, to senior citizens in nursing homes, to people in everyday situations, tactile interactions have a positive impact. While it’s important that any touching is consensual and appropriate, we have a hunger for human touch. And that isn’t possible over the internet.

Keeping yourself connected is a personal and professional responsibility. Loneliness directly impacts our companies and organizations. Studies have shown that employee isolation significantly reduces productivity. Without connections, teams tend to seem detached, fragmented, or possess a lack of purpose.

Neal and Mark will be presenting “Grow Through the Power of Connections” at the National Postal Forum in Indianapolis, IN.

Leaders are responsible for 70% of engagement of the team. Leaders have to actively build the connections among the team. This goes beyond annual “team building exercises” held outside of the workplace. The leader must reinforce the importance of the team through a consistent flow of actions and information.

Powerful connections don’t happen by accident. Leaders can take purposeful actions to strengthen their teams. The first step is coming together every day by holding a “daily huddle.” By setting aside a few minutes each day, managers and supervisors can ensure that every employee receives the right information, and that the team is prepared for success.

In a hybrid workplace, keeping your employees connected from a distance will probably be your greatest challenge. You need to be proactive in this area to counter the perception of “out of sight, out of mind.” When an employee anywhere in your organization does something commendable, call them immediately and thank them. Don’t substitute an email for a phone call, and don’t just leave a voicemail. Take a minute to have a conversation with this person and reinforce how important their actions were.

Any team accomplishments should be recognized with in-person events. Recognize the team as a group for their hard work. Reinforce the importance of working together to achieve success. Celebrate with food whenever possible. Breaking bread together breaks down barriers.

We are in an epidemic of loneliness. It affects us as individuals and as leaders. Isolation is defeated by building meaningful connections. We just need to take the first step to cultivate a culture of connection — and reach out to one another. 

Mark Fallon is President of The Berkshire Company. Learn more at www.

Neal Fedderman is the Senior Manager, Parcel and Mail Operation at CarMax.



Everyone knows that expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…” By the time this article is published, there will have been no shortage of press about the USPS price changes slated to take effect in July. And let’s face it, no one likes a price increase, particularly a significant one and particularly when they come twice a year, so this announcement is definitely a lemon. That being said, I’d like to focus this article on some of the positive changes and opportunities in the USPS’s proposed price changes, which businesses continuing to use the mail should be sure to explore for the remainder of 2024 and into 2025. So here are some ways to make that price change lemonade…

Increased Incentives. For First-Class and Marketing Mail, the Full-Service IMb incentive will increase from $0.003 per piece to $0.005 per piece — a more than 60% increase and for an incentive that has been unchanged for many years. With upwards of 84 billion IMb Full-Service pieces mailed in FY2023, this incentive increase will benefit many mailers.

The USPS’s price change also includes an increase of the Seamless Acceptance incentive for First-Class and Marketing Mail from $0.001 to $0.002 per piece. This doubling of the Seamless incentive significantly helps offset the costs that mail service providers (MSPs) incur in meeting the Seamless program requirements and provides additional incentive for MSPs currently not enrolled in Seamless Acceptance to enroll. For FY2023, over 63 billion pieces were mailed through the Seamless Acceptance program, which has many benefits for both the USPS and MSPs.

The USPS is also planning to repeat the Growth Incentive in 2025, which provides businesses that mail more than one million pieces during the incentive calendar year and grow their volumes

compared to the prior year (or in the case of 2024, compared to the USPS’s Fiscal Year 2023) the opportunity to qualify for a 30% postage credit based on their volume growth. According to the USPS at the April MTAC meeting, over 950 businesses have signed up for the Growth Incentive in 2024, representing over 38 billion pieces of mail. The USPS reported at this meeting that it estimates about two billion pieces of volume growth in 2024 will be eligible for the incentive.

For First-Class and Marketing Mail, the Full-Service IMb incentive will increase from $0.003 per piece to $0.005 per piece — a more than 60% increase and for an incentive that has been unchanged for many years.

A new Catalog incentive will allow pieces that meet the USPS’s definition of a catalog to obtain $0.001 per piece simply by indicating the piece is a catalog. The USPS has published the definition of a “catalog” as part of its July price changes, and pieces classified as letters, flats, or even parcels could qualify, and pieces mailed as Marketing Mail (except EDDM-Retail) or Bound Printed Matter could qualify.

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New Promotions. There are new promotions for 2025 included in the USPS’s price change as well as changes in some discount levels and the ability to do up to three promotions simultaneously on the same mail piece and combine the discount for all three promotions, which means up to six percent combined discount could be available. The USPS has changed the Informed Delivery promotion to be an “add-on” that can be combined with any of the five core promotions, vs. how it works currently as a promotion on its own with a set period for participation. The five core promotions will be: Integrated Technology; Tactile, Sensory & Interactive (TSI); Continuous Contact; Reply Mail IMbA, and First-Class Mail Advertising.

The new Continuous Contact promotion will provide a three percent discount for mailers who send qualifying USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats to the same household two or more times within the promotion period. Following the first mailing to a household, mailers will receive the discount on all subsequent mailings within the promotion period. The content of each mail piece must be iterative or complementary, not duplicative.

The new First-Class Mail Advertising promotion provides a three percent discount for First-Class Mail letters and flats that promote offerings within the mailing, and it will be available September through December of 2025.

The new Sustainability Add-On/Upgrade Promotion, which will be available all year in 2025 as an add-on to one of the five core promotions (except it can’t be combined with the Reply Mail IMbA promotion) provides a one percent discount to mailers who prove their printer (inner contents or outer envelope) is using one of several approved environmental certifications. It will be available for First-Class Mail automation letters, cards, and flats and USPS Marketing Mail automation letters and flats.

Business | MAY-JUNE 2024 29
Keeping your critical communications running so nothing comes between you and your customers • Paul J. DePaoli 203.572.3887 •
Continuity & Disaster Recovery

Sortation Discounts. The USPS is significantly increasing the discount for First-Class Mail automation pieces sorted to the 5-digit ZIP. All businesses can take advantage of these savings even if their mail has insufficient 5-digit ZIP Code density by utilizing a commingle or comail service provider. These providers take mail from many businesses and sort it together, which builds fivedigit ZIP code sortation density and enables the mailer access to postage savings they would not be able to attain on their own. The significant increase in the First-Class Mail automation five-digit discounts gives businesses even more opportunity for savings by using such providers. For Marketing Mail, the incentive to sort flats to CR entered at the DSCF will increase.

Containerization. As the USPS begins to implement its network redesign and facility changes, it is also developing and increasing incentives to containerize mail in ways that make it easier for USPS to cross-dock containers at facilities when processing will be performed in a different facility. The USPS is increasing the SCF pallet discount for qualifying Marketing Mail flats prepared on ADC, three-digit, and five-digit SCF pallets, as well as increasing other containerization discounts for Carrier Route Marketing Mail. Business Reply Mail. The USPS is restructuring and improving its Business Reply Mail (BRM) product by offering a significant discount for BRM IMbA (BRM accounting). Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) customers would enroll in Intelligent Mail Barcode Accounting (IMbA) and USPS would waive annual account maintenance and quarterly fees and reduce the per-piece fee.

Drop Ship Changes. USPS is implementing a change to the Marketing Mail flat-shaped products rate structure, which results in changes to the incentives to drop ship. Although the USPS has

generally proposed changes that lessen the incentive to drop ship to the DSCF, the incentive was increased for drop shipping heavy weight flats.

In the longer term, change is coming to the drop ship structure as the USPS rolls out its network design changes. Whether the changes to drop ship will be positive or negative may depend on what and where you are mailing to, and the drop ship discounts the USPS ultimately establishes. For mail that can be drop-shipped today to the Destination Delivery Unit, there may be opportunities to consolidate and drop at fewer locations by dropping at S&DC facilities. For mail that the USPS wants drop shipped to the RPDC facilities, that would be fewer total facilities than drop shipping to the LPCs (the equivalent of today’s DSCF drop ship), but it would depend on what the discount is and the service impact to know whether the change could be positive or negative.

[Note the above information is taken from the USPS's proposed price changes — at the time this article was written, the proposed changes were pending approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission, which was expected to occur by end of May… so check the PRC decision for the final changes as the final could differ from the proposed.]

PRC Rate System Review. Another activity happening that could change the prices the USPS charges in the future is that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has started a proceeding to review the USPS’s rate structure. This proceeding had been envisioned by the PRC to be something it would initiate five years after it implemented significant changes to the rate system in 2021 as a result of its 10-year review of the system required under the Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act (PAEA), but the PRC is initiating the review early, in part because of the USPS’s finances, volume declines, and other factors.

Included in the changes the PRC made to the rate system as a result of its 10-year review were the creation of the Density Additional Rate Authority and Retirement Additional Rate Authority — both of which allow the USPS to increase prices above the CPI cap. The Density Rate Authority works on the premise that the USPS’s number of delivery points grow each year and when its volumes decline, there are fewer pieces per delivery. For the July 2024 price change, over 4.3% of the 7.8% average price increase comes from the Density Rate Authority. The Retirement Rate Authority was designed to address the PAEA requirement that the USPS pre-fund its retiree health benefits, but the Postal Service Reform Act (PSRA) of 2021 largely addressed that issue by eliminating the requirement and the liability from the USPS's balance sheet. The USPS is moving to a new retirement benefits system for its employees and the Retirement Rate Authority will expire in January of 2026. For the July price increase, 1.8% comes from the Retirement Rate Authority.

There are other elements of the USPS rate system that likely will be discussed as part of the PRC’s review. Comments will be due in July and August, so the PRC is not likely to conclude the proceeding before the fall, but it could determine that changes are needed which could impact USPS price changes after the proceeding is finalized. 

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

30 MAY-JUNE 2024 |

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