Page 1

MAY - JUNE 2016

The Benefits of an












Editor's Note

Collaboration Is Key to Survival By Amanda Armendariz


Real Life Management

Your Team Can Soar! By Wes Friesen


Software Byte

USPS eVS Program for Shippers Gaining Momentum By Lloyd Moss



The Benefits of an Optimized Workflow

Integration within and between systems reduces costs, increases capacity By Chris Lien

Enterprise PC Postage: One of the Few Growth Areas in Mail


By Adam Lewenberg



The Trenches

Do You Know Who I Am? By Mike Porter

Mail: Making the Most of Multi-Channel

Don’t be frightened by cross-media marketing; it could help you grow your business exponentially. By Charlotte Tueckmantel

Postal Affairs

Informed Delivery vs. Informed Visibility By Kim Mauch


Mail & Technology Merge

Science Is Not Fiction Anymore By Vincent DeAngelis




Mail Quality Direction: Its Impact on the Supply Chain A candid Q&A with industry experts By Jessica Lowrance


The New Sortation Challenge

With more and more mailing operations assuming shipping duties as well, here’s what you need to know. By Grant Miller


Optimizing with Data Quality Workflows Firstlogic

MAY-JUNE 2016 |

MTAC – A View from Inside USPS Headquarters

The MTAC is an important force in the mailing industry, but not many mailers are aware of what it entails. By Paul Abdool

How to Be Successful Growing Your Business Globally


If you’re a mailer who is expanding into the international shipping arena, here's how to make the jump successful. By Wanda Senne

Who are the companies that are developing the solutions you need for your print/mail operation? Find the HOT PRINT/MAIL SOLUTION COMPANIES in the next issue of Mailing Systems Technology.


VOLUME 29, ISSUE 3 MAGAZINE STAFF Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz Contributing Writers Paul Abdool, Vincent DeAngelis, Wes Friesen, Adam Lewenberg, Chris Lien, Jessica Lowrance, Kim Mauch, Grant Miller, Lloyd Moss, Mike Porter, Wanda Senne, Charlotte Tueckmantel Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman Advertising Ken Waddell (o) 608-442-5064 (m) 608-235-2212 Design Kelli Cooke

RB Publishing Inc. 2901 International Lane Madison WI 53704-3128 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Call 608.241.8777 Fax 608.241.8666 E-mail Online at REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2016 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc.

COLLABORATION IS KEY TO SURVIVAL WITH AMANDA ARMENDARIZ When it was obvious that the Internet and, subsequently, digital communications were no passing fad and were here to stay, a lot of folks in the mailing industry got worried (and understandably so). It seemed that mail could be on its way out the door, about to go the way of the stagecoach and the Pony Express. After all, why send pieces of printed material through the Postal Service, which takes days to reach its recipients, when you could reach friends, family, and customers with just the click of the send button? Luckily, that initial fear has since been proven unfounded. Yes, mail volumes are down, and will likely never return to their peak. But, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With the ever-increasing amount of digital communication, mail has found a new role in this arena. Instead of a business sending out direct mail pieces to their customers willy-nilly, with no way to track if the communication piece actually spurred the prospect to action (unless the customer remembered to mention a specific coupon code listed on the mail piece), mail can now be part of an extremely successful multi-channel campaign, with proven results. More and more businesses are realizing that mail is a communication powerhouse, especially when combined with digital avenues. Read our article on page 16 for some ideas on executing a top-notch multi-channel campaign, with mail at its center. No longer perceived to be in competition, mail and digital initiatives now collaborate in order to provide some of the most relevant, engaging, and powerful customer communications. And isn’t that exactly what customer communications should be about: adapting to our changing world and consumer preferences while still remaining at the forefront of customers’ minds?

The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Mailing Systems Technology. If you like what you see or have suggestions for what we could do better, please drop me a line at

MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 29 Issue 3] is published six times per year, (January/February, Annual Industry Buyer’s Guide, March/April, May/June, September/October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices.

As always, thanks for staying connected with Mailing Systems Technology.

POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 | MAY-JUNE 2016



By Wes Friesen



eading a team can be very challenging, but it can also be very rewarding to you, the team, and the stakeholders your team is serving. Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic and leadership expert, inspires us by saying: “No individual achievement can equal the pleasure of leading a group of people to achieve a worthy goal. When you cross the finish line together, there’s a deep satisfaction that it was your leadership that made the difference. There’s simply nothing that can compare with that.” I aspire to leave a legacy as a person who helped my teams excel and soar — and I know you do too. I am constantly looking for practical advice from others to help me, and my teams, be more successful. Over the years, I have had the privilege of sharing what I have learned on the pages of this and other trade journals, at conferences, in the university classroom, and elsewhere. I decided to summarize my key learnings in a book.

Reference Book: Your Team Can Soar! I titled the book Your Team Can Soar! with the subtitle of: Valuable Lessons to Help You Lead and Develop High Performing Teams. Included are 42 lessons organized around three key components of our success: Leadership, Management, and Personal Foundations. Each lesson can be used as a "stand alone," and the book is intended to serve as a reference that can be referred to over and over. To help us — and our teams — achieve our full potential we must "sharpen our saws." The principle of sharpening our saws is the climatic seventh habit from Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Abraham Lincoln illustrated the concept by saying, "If I only had two hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first hour sharpening my ax." The key for us is to embrace the twin concepts of continuous learning and con6

MAY-JUNE 2016 |

tinuous improvement. The first step is to continuously be striving to learn. The second step is to put our learning into practice. Jim Rohn encouraged us by saying, "Don't let your learning lead to knowledge. Let your learning lead to action." Learning and improving should not stop once we reach a certain age. Henry Ford warned that, "Anyone who stops learning

are more committed to the goals and the work, are happy when the team succeeds, and feel part of something significant, all of which increases self-esteem, which in turn increases performance. Highly cohesive and performing teams possess high levels of team Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is defined as encompassing the awareness

“We all leave a legacy. The only question is what kind of legacy will we leave — positive or negative?” —Wes Friesen

is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." I am inspired by the example of Pablo Casals, nicknamed "Mr. Cellist." A young reporter once asked, "Mr. Casals, you are the greatest cellist who ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?" Pablo smiled and replied, "Because I think I'm making progress!" Your Team Can Soar! was written to be a learning source for you to aid in your personal development and sharpening of the saw. But it was also written to be a tool for you to use with your team and help in their development.

Importance of Cohesiveness in High-Performance Teams A characteristic commonly seen in high-performance teams is cohesiveness, which is the extent to which team members stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal. Highly cohesive teams

and understanding of emotions. It incorporates the application of this understanding to decision making, regulation, and self-management: these three are all important aspects of teamwork. Studies have shown that Emotional Intelligence has a positive impact on teamwork by making the team more cohesive and higher performing. How can we strive to build out team's Emotional Intelligence? Research from organizational experts Vanessa Druskat and Stephen Wolff suggests three key practices: 1. Make time for team members to appreciate each other's skills. Provide opportunities for people to get to know each other better, so they can learn and appreciate each member's skills and personality. Pursue team building activities and mutual learning,

like studying personality styles such as the Big 5, DISC, and/or Myers Briggs. 2. Raise and manage emotional concerns that can help or encumber the team's progress. It is important to develop comfortable, team-endorsed ways to express and resolve the anger, tension, and frustration that sometimes arises in team efforts. Both humor and playfulness can be helpful tools. For example, at IDEO, team members can toss soft toys over work station walls when feelings run high (sounds like fun!). This serves to lighten the mood, and

is a reminder that the group has established norms for expressing difficult emotions, thereby making them feel less threatening to the individuals and to the group. 3. Celebrate success. Part of building the Emotional Intelligence of a team includes the expression of positive emotions such as gratitude and appreciation when exceeding expectations. Recognizing accomplishments strengthens a team's identity and spotlights its effectiveness and collective passion for excellence. There are many ways to

celebrate successes — such as team lunches, playing games such as Bunko together, or having an article in the company newsletter. Your Team Can Soar! has many other ideas that you can use to help develop your team even further, and could be used with your team to study selected lessons together. Leonardo da Vinci challenged us by saying, "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." My best to you as you apply what you learn, then watch yourself and your team soar to new heights of performance! ž

Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams. Wes and his teams have earned multiple awards from a variety of organizations over the years. He has extensive experience in leadership and management roles, in both the business and non-profit worlds. He is also an accomplished university instructor and conference speaker. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from or (under Book) or an online retailer like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Wes can be contacted at | MAY-JUNE 2016



By Lloyd Moss



he USPS Electronic Verification System (eVS) allows shippers to submit electronic documentation and pay for postage electronically instead of producing paper manifests and statements. eVS started years ago as a means for large package consolidators to more easily interact with the USPS electronically. It has recently gone mainstream so that any shipper can take advantage of this program to save time, money and reduce human error. eVS is available for packages and some flats, including Bound Printed Matter parcels, First-Class flats/ packages, Library flats/packages, Media Mail flats/packages, Priority Mail letters/ flats/packages, and Parcel Select presorted and non-presorted. With eVS, shippers of drop-shipped packages will no longer need paper 8125s, and a single national permit pays for shipments from any location. eVS shippers don’t provide paper postage statements and manifests, nor do they have to go through the normal acceptance and verification process at their Detached Mail Units (DMU) or Business Mail Entry Units (BMEU). This creates significant value for the USPS as it saves it time and labor hours over paper manifest validation at induction and streamlines acceptance to the shipper. The eVS program is similar to the USPS Full-Service, eInduction, and Seamless Acceptance programs for letter and flat mail all rolled up into one. But — and here’s the best thing about eVS — it’s been around for a fairly long time, so it has had time to age and mature. It is much simpler for mailers coming on now.

More and more shippers, both large and small, are jumping on the eVS bandwagon, in part because the USPS BMEUs are “encouraging” mailers to transition from paper manifesting to eVS. There have been reported instances where BMEUs were refusing to accept hard copy manifest statements as they didn’t have the resources to perform the necessary audits on the paper manifest reports. Of course, since eVS is not yet mandatory, the BMEUs are overruled, but many suspect that this may change in the not so distant future. One recent development making implementation much easier is the recently introduced USPS Parcel Data Exchange (PDX) system. PDX makes communication with the USPS more secure, reliable, and efficient than other options. FTP, the primary communication method for non-eVS shippers, is being phased out entirely. So, if you are sending your Shipping Services Files (SSF) to the USPS via FTP, you need to check with your software vendor about changing to PDX, AS2, or Secure FTP. If you upgrade your communications, it will likely be worth going to eVS at the same time as the requirement is inevitable. Some vendors in the shipping industry have already been certified to process shipments via eVS. Their software can create and print IMpb eVS shipping labels using a variety of data sources, then create the SSF and submit it to eVS via the new PDX file transfer protocol. As with PostalOne!, mailers and the USPS can exchange documents and information electronically, and postage is paid via permit.

Is eVS Better than PC Postage? As far as why eVS is better than PC postage, you pay for mail when the mail is actually entered, so you don’t have to worry about refunds for unused postage or making sure you mail on the date printed on the PC postage. Plus, eVS gives you exposure to more presorted rates than PC postage or meters, and you don’t have to print the postage amount on the mail piece. For example, you can use eVS but not PC postage to pay for the following: Bound Printed Matter parcels, Library flats/packages, Media Mail flats/packages, and Parcel Select (both Presorted and Non-Presorted). With eVS, there are no manifests to print, and acceptance takes no time at all. If you want presorted rates, the best way to get them is to run the presort, then send them through eVS. Why the Switch to eVS? It is probably replacing regular manifesting for the same reason Full-Service, eInduction, and Seamless are replacing paper statements and qualification reports for letter and flat mailers: better visibility into the makeup of the mail and easier automated verification downstream of induction so mail clerks don’t have to do as much work when accepting mail. This translates into big labor savings for the USPS. Remember: eVS is the equivalent of Full Service, eInduction, and Seamless for packages. So, if you ship packages and want an alternative solution to PC Postage or conventional manifest systems, or if you are presorting, eVS should be at the top of your list! ¾

Lloyd Moss, VP of Premier Client Solutions, Window Book has worked for postal software vendors since 1991 and has assisted hundreds of mailers of all types. He also served as a subject matter advisor on U.S. Postal Service eDoc and Intelligent Mail Full-Service projects for three years while at Accenture.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |


By Kim Mauch



f you attended the National Postal Forum this year, you likely heard the terms “Informed Delivery” and “Informed Visibility” almost every five minutes. While their names are similar, the USPS programs themselves are quite different. Let’s take a look at both, find their differences and similarities, and talk about what’s next for each one.

Informed Visibility We’ve been hearing about Informed Visibility for many years now, and the latest phase of the program was officially approved for development in 2015. Basically, Informed Visibility is a mail tracking platform designed for mailers. Within this program, mailers can get notifications as each mail piece, bundle, tray, sack, and pallet is processed and scanned throughout the USPS network. The postal service has offered scan information through the IMb Tracing (formerly CONFIRM) program for years, but this new platform is adding additional scan types, and shortening the time it takes to get the scans. The big change for 2016 will be the official rollout of Informed Visibility (IV) over the summer. USPS has a very aggressive schedule of piloting, then releasing its IV changes, sometimes with less than a month between the pilot and the official deployment. While the ambition is admirable, previous attempts to fast-track programs like the Mailer Scorecard have not gone well in the past. And while the new name and marketing give IV some lift, at its core, Informed Visibility is still raw scan information enabled by the Intelligent Mail barcode. Most mailers won’t see much change from what they have today: just a few new

scan events in a more timely fashion. Mailers won’t need to modify their existing processes either, unless they want to get scans for containers that they don’t have today.

Informed Delivery This term is relatively new in the industry, and the pilot program was just started last year. It was originally called “Real Mail Notifications.” The concept is an opt-in program for mail recipients, where they get a notice in the morning with scans of the mail they will receive that day. While the concept is straightforward, there are many details of the program that are still being ironed out. The program started as a pilot in Northern Virginia, where mail recipients received their notifications in an email. USPS found that those who participated were two to 10 times more likely to respond to their mail pieces than those who didn’t. Where the USPS got these response numbers is a little vague. The pilot program was expanded to New York City and a few ZIP codes in Connecticut, and now over 67,000 mail recipients have signed up for the pilot. In their daily email, they see black and white images of the letter pieces scanned by automation equipment that are expected to be delivered that day. The benefits for mail recipients are apparent — they can understand early in the day what they can expect in the mailbox. And for homes with multiple residents, they can know whether to look for something that is important to them. There are benefits for mailers as well. Having multiple “impressions” of the mail piece can be a good way to drive home a marketing message, for example. As the program expands, USPS

plans to offer mailers the option to include up to two links for their mailings: one for a color image to replace the black and white scan, and another that could point to a website, trigger a phone call, or some other call to action. With reported open rates of over 90%, this program will be hard to pass up. As Informed Delivery is still in pilot mode, there are several kinks to still work out. The notifications are not nearly as complete as they could be. Flat mail, parcels, and any letters not processed on automation equipment are not included. The messages themselves aren’t visually appealing, but there may be a push to move this to a mobile app instead. There currently isn’t a way for mailers to opt out. While many mailers would be happy to have multiple impressions of their message, companies such as collections bureaus may want to suppress any pre-notification. Processes for people who move between addresses haven’t been nailed down. But perhaps the biggest concern the industry has raised is how this will impact physical mail volume. With this new digital strategy, labeled a “platform,” it is possible that USPS could charge mailers for the extra benefits it provides, even without a physical mail piece. However, the Postmaster General stated clearly at the National Postal Forum that this service would only be available with a piece of sent mail. Even as the New York pilot continues, USPS has announced that it wants to roll this technology out to all ZIP Codes by 2017. How it plans to expand from 60,000 to over 130 million participants, not to mention the roadmap for this program, has not been well defined. Much like Informed Visibility, the timeline is short. ¾

Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at | MAY-JUNE 2016



By Mike Porter



ave you had an experience lately when a company made an effort to connect with you personally? Where you had the feeling they actually knew something about their relationship with you and communicated as if you were an individual instead of a generic customer? It’s OK if you don’t recall something like that; it’s pretty rare. Most of my interactions with companies don’t come anywhere close to a personalized conversation. They don’t seem to remember any of our past transactions, give no indication they appreciate my loyalty, and rarely use information they know about me to craft messages relevant to my business with them.

Improving the Customer Experience Business publications, management experts, and analyst firms have produced lots of advice by about improving the customer experience. You can tell it’s a hot topic — it even has its own abbreviation (CX). Oddly, the published material rarely even mentions outbound customer communications. Aren’t the documents and messages organizations deliver to their customers part of the experience? Improving customer service and developing slick new mobile apps and websites are worthy goals too. I am glad companies are interested in addressing these customer interactions. Monthly bills, email notifications, and direct mail marketing pieces, however, are excellent opportunities to improve customer relationships, especially if the current versions are a source of annoyance or pain. Sadly, that part of the CX doesn’t seem to be getting much attention.

Is your company guilty of producing barely useful customer communications (see sidebar)? You may not have the power to correct these situations yourself, but you can probably recognize them. The CXOs seem to be spending their time worrying about other areas of the business. It may be up to the rest of the organization to improve the customer experience by improving customer messaging.

We Have the Technology Customer communications have to get better. Inadequate technology can’t be blamed for everything anymore. We have the tools to construct personal, relevant, and timely content, and we’ve got the data. Now it is up to people like document designers, marketers, and document operations to take advantage of those resources and find ways to start producing customer documents that actually improve customer relationships. Many improvements are relatively easy to accomplish, and certainly less expensive than retraining the entire customer service department on a new corporate culture. It probably isn’t difficult to turn on selective inserting for return envelopes, dream up some statement messages that thank customers appropriately for their longevity, or test links and QR codes before going into production. Those may seem like small gestures, but the customer experience includes the entire relationship. Accurate informative documents that recognize prior customer interactions and are composed to address the needs of specific customers affect customer satisfaction and retention.

Projects to analyze outbound communications from the standpoint of improving the customer experience could reveal opportunities for documents and messages to make a positive difference. ¾

How many items like these are present in your company’s customer communications? } Sending email, direct mail, and transpromo sales pitches for products customers already own. } Failing to fill out customers' forms with information the company already has on file. } Generating multi-page, small print terms and conditions consisting of mostly paragraphs that start with the words “if” and “or” because the document applies to every customer in every jurisdiction in which the company does business. } Bill statement messages that haven’t changed in years. } QR codes that lead to company home pages (or nowhere) instead of the content promoted by the accompanying text. } Commercial emails without unsubscribe links (or links that don’t work). } Asking customers to provide detailed information “so we can serve you better” and then continuously sending communications that shows the data was ignored. } Paper bills that include remittance envelopes every month to customers who have clearly been paying online for years. } Contact information that is difficult to find or has been replaced entirely with self-help resources.

Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants, a firm that helps document producers save money, raise productivity, and make their mail more effective. You are invited to visit and sign up for his free newsletters.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |


By Vincent DeAngelis



his was fiction when it was first published on June 8, 1949: Winston Smith is a member of the Outer Party. He works in the Records Department in the Ministry of Truth, rewriting and distorting history. To escape Big Brother's tyranny, at least inside his own mind, Winston begins a diary — an act punishable by death. Winston is determined to remain human under inhuman circumstances. Yet telescreens are placed everywhere — in his home, in his cubicle at work, in the cafeteria where he eats, even in the bathroom stalls. His every move is watched. No place is safe. It’s reality now. The Internet of Things has been defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) as “interconnected networks of uniquely identified physical objects embedded with sensors that collect, communicate and act upon a broad variety of data such as location, temperature, motion or performance. These ‘smart objects’ collect and communicate data that can be analyzed for better tracking and management of assets in realtime, efficiency improvements and the creation of better and smarter products, services and processes.” Certainly George Orwell’s novel 1984 and its draconian view of “Big Brother” is the polar opposite of the modern ability to connect devices with on/off switches via the Internet. Nonetheless, it is fascinating that 67 years ago, an author had a prescient vision that technology (telescreens in 1949; mobile phones in 2016) could monitor private and public lives.

According to IBM Institute for Business, there are already more Internet-connected devices in the world than there are people, and that number is expected to grow to more than 100 billion devices by 2050. It is this projected explosion in everyday connectivity that begat the phrase “The Internet of Things” (IoT).

The USPS Can Benefit from the IoT

This vast network is already creating real value for companies that have embraced it to better control their assets and to increase efficiency while trying to increase revenue and the number of customers who take advantage of it. Utilizing IoT, we can track exercise and activity levels, remotely monitor and manage our homes, and reorder trash bags, toilet paper, razors, detergent or a multitude of other consumable products. Connectivity expert Cisco estimates that IoT will bring more than $19 trillion in value worldwide by 2022. The Unites States Postal Service is no different than other companies. The potential IoT benefits are very real for the USPS, and several unique features work in its favor: 1. A vast infrastructure 2. Experience in data collection and analytics 3. Customer demand for information Consider the Mailbox Consider one of the quotidian beneficiaries of the IoT: the mailbox. The mailbox we use today was created more than 100 years ago. Bringing it into the 21st century could be a new way to help industry and consumers. A new, smart mailbox could be fitted

with sensors that, when connected to a real-time app, could provide the consumer with benefits like delivery and pick-up data and environmental information like temperature and precipitation to keep medication and groceries from spoiling. The Office of Inspector General notes that enabling new technology could also offer a huge advantage for local governments and their citizens. Wouldn’t it be great if the mailbox of an elderly person could send a text alert to a relative or the police department if the homeowner has not picked up his or her mail for a certain number of days (although there are countless stories of letter carriers already performing this considerate act)?

Evident Value

Although we are just scratching the surface of what can be done with the Internet of Things, its value is already evident. We know that the IoT can cut costs, generate efficiencies, optimize processes, and respond to customer demands for more information. The USPS — and most other product or service businesses, by the way — could reap the benefits of all the possible applications. Smart mailboxes are just the beginning. Think about the possibilities that maintaining and repairing equipment in smart buildings could offer, not to mention the potential productivity enhancements made possible by smart vehicle management. It’s time to implement today’s technology to improve overall business decision-making for an improved customer experience tomorrow. ¾

Vincent DeAngelis is Vice President, Postal Relations, Neopost USA. Headquartered in Milford, CT, Neopost USA provides mailing, business communications management and shipping hardware and software solutions. As businesses increasingly move to digital communications, Neopost USA continues to help its customers communicate via physical mail, digital communications and parcels. For more information on Neopost USA, visit | MAY-JUNE 2016


THE BENEFITS OF AN OPTIMIZED WORKFLOW Integration within and between systems reduces costs, increases capacity


reating a fully automated print and mail workflow is an important goal to maximize any-sized print and mailing operation. Many of the largest providers already recognize the significant cost savings and quality improvements by leveraging internal Information Technology teams and custom software applications. Thanks to advancements in technology, optimized and automated workflows have become a reality for companies of every size and ability level. In its most recent “State of the Industry� report, Epicomm shared that over 39% of printers anticipate a more profitable 2016. Where did they anticipate this bottom line improvement coming from? Nearly half of those surveyed cited increased production efficiency. Reducing 12

MAY-JUNE 2016 |

costs related to labor (26.2%) and rework (16.4%) were also given as ways printers planned to reach the goal. These are clearly worthwhile goals. However, what tangible steps can a company take to be more efficient, control labor costs, and decrease the amount of costly rework? The answer: evaluate and optimize the systems being used to complete a job to seek places throughout the workflow that can be automated and optimized. What Is Workflow Optimization? Simply stated, workflow optimization is a way to boost profitability by reducing the costs, particularly in terms of the time, it takes to accomplish a task. The goal is to get more done in less time, allowing for

more capacity and lower per job costs. This can be accomplished through automation and optimized integrations that simplify or reduce the number of steps to accomplish a task. Well-planned and automated workflows can adapt to changing requirements and can reduce the risk for errors that cause delays and rework. To the mailing industry, this means taking a look at everything from the time a job first appears on the radar during estimation, through preparation, processing, USPS induction, and finally to tracking and reporting. Many mailers employ multiple people using half a dozen or more separate software packages to complete the process shown in the diagram on the next page. Each manually executed step requires time and training, careful

By Chris Lien coordination of system availability, and increases the risk of costly mistakes. What Is the Benefit? The software and hardware used to complete each step in your current workflow is probably sufficient at doing what it was originally implemented to do. However, as customer demands change over time, components were likely added to meet each new requirement. Over time, this leaves a mailing operation that relies on multiple people performing multiple steps to move information in and out of systems. Adding to the confusion, those that are not directly involved in the processing of a job can lose visibility into the status. This makes it nearly impossible to give customers an accurate status update or respond to their question promptly. Perhaps the biggest risk is not knowing if a job is in danger of missing a drop date until it is too late to resolve without impacting other jobs, thus creating a domino effect of lower productivity and dissatisfied customers. This traditional process is a natural result of evolution within a mailing operation. As needs, customer demands, and USPS regulations change, so does the mix of software and hardware used to meet the requirements. Taking a step back to consider workflow optimization provides an opportunity to see where these systems can be brought together for more efficient completion of every job. A well-integrated mailing process has many benefits, all of which are aimed at growing your business. By reducing manual steps and handwork, the element of human error is lessened and those resources can be allocated to other tasks. Greater efficiency also controls costs and increases capacity to take on additional work without the need to add resources. An additional benefit of workflow optimization is increased customer satisfaction as quality rises and turnaround times fall. Where Do I Start? Take a look at the image included here. Whether you use these exact terms in your operation or not, the overall workflow should look pretty familiar. There are two places you can find opportunities for workflow optimization: within a single pro-

cess or by connecting discreet processes. In both cases, the easiest opportunity is often found by identifying steps that are repeatable each time. More sophisticated workflow optimization routines look for common tasks and turn elements of a task into variables to make the process repeatable across different environments. You can start by looking within a single step, indicated by each of the icons in the diagram. Identify the software or hardware you are using to perform each step. Evaluate the sub-steps within each process you complete to see what might be repeatable. Your vendors should be able to help map out each workflow and identify ways to simplify, optimize, or automate. For example, the presorting step provides ample opportunity to automate processes. Customers often automate each part of their presort process including importing and converting data, address standardization, Move Update compliance (such as NCOALink, ACS, etc.), list presorting, and output of eDocs and production paperwork. These users are able to simply identify a list and kick-off the streamlined process, with each of the individual elements being automatically completed to their predefined requirements. The next level is to look between steps for opportunities to integrate the handoff from one process into the next. An easy way to get started here: ask your software

and hardware vendors if they already have a relationship with one another. You may find that they have already worked together on other projects and have pre-existing integrations you can take advantage of. Some programs are integrated with multiple print MIS solutions, allowing customers to fully automate their processes from data quality, through printing, finishing, and sorting. Imagine being able to identify a list and job variables up front and have it run through multiple systems without being touched again until the mail has been produced. Seamlessly moving from a list to mail that is ready to be strategically inducted into the USPS delivery network is a great example of an optimized workflow. Companies across the mailing industry are already reaping the benefits of this type of integration, including reduced time to complete a single job, fewer errors, and greater visibility and predictability into each job. Ask your current vendors what opportunities exist for automation within their environments and what other up and down stream packages they integrate with. You might just find yourself with a healthier bottom line. 他 CHRIS LIEN is President, BCC Software and a frequent speaker at industry events such as the National Postal Forum. He can be contacted at | MAY-JUNE 2016




n our line of work, we are finding that many companies are switching at least part of their operations to Enterprise PC Postage solutions, largely due to the control, simplicity, and cost savings associated with these managed programs. What differentiates Enterprise vs. Standard PC Postage is having one central account to manage the postage disbursement and control throughout the locations across an organization. Overview of PC Postage PC Postage allows the user to generate stamps either onto the envelope or on special labels. This can eliminate the need for a postage meter, and mail can be generated wherever you have an Internet connection and a printer. See the table on the next page for more detail. Pros – Inexpensive, no long term contracts, no hardware required (which equals


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

space savings), nine to 32% price reductions on Priority/Express Mail, and flexible for most mail classes. Cons – Not designed for mid/high volume mail; no feeding or sealing capability. Overview of Enterprise PC Postage When we are discussing Enterprise, it is regarding how a PC Postage program would be implemented and managed throughout an organization. Typically, this would have the following benefits over having your locations sign up on their own.

2. Consolidated Billing – With the Enterprise programs, you can get consolidated invoices for subscription rental, postage, and supplies. 3. Enterprise Visibility – These systems give you a view into every piece of mail and which operators sent them. From a control perspective, it is much more detailed than what is available through meters. 4. Enterprise Control – You can limit who can print postage and what they are able see with the application.

1. Dedicated Account Manager – This is the most important piece of an effective program. Organizations are going to need to help you get initial locations set up, locations added and removed, and provide ongoing support. The success of any program is determined by the level of support you may require for the future.

Who May Benefit from This Type of Solution? Organizations that have multiple locations or have staff that work in remote locations may want a central way to distribute postage and control expenses. They may not do enough mail to justify having a postage meter, so they have people filling out

expense reports or using petty cash to go to the post office to buy stamps. Having one simple way to allow their users to generate postage, while being able to fund it centrally and control its use, has a lot of value. Also, by having a simple way to process USPS packages, users are more apt to reduce the usage of pricier overnight spends with the private carriers. Choosing the Right Provider Here is a list of items you should consider to make sure you are selecting the right solution. } Support – What resources is the vendor providing to manage your account? You will need help ordering, training, and maintaining your solution. As an example, you may want to have location cost centers added to each location and may need the vendor to help you maintain this level of detail. } Billing – Can the charges be consolidated for all of your locations? Can you be invoiced, or do you need to do ACH or credit card payments? The big question is on the postage. Most companies want to have a consolidated invoice for the postage that has been used. You want to validate that this invoice can be exported to Excel and have your cost centers added.

} Data Visibility – You should ask for a demonstration on how you are able to drill down to the usage of postage throughout your organization. Can the operator charge back to different accounts, and how is the data managed and updated? What reports can be generated? You need this to be as simple as possible or it will be difficult to get users to follow procedures for the future. } Data History – How long is the data being stored on the provider’s servers? You want to make sure it is long enough to be able to go back and look up information. } Key Features – These are some items that you may want to inquire about if your application fits: } Certified Mail with Electronic Return Receipt — There is a savings of $1.35 by switching to an electronic version, and you no longer need to store the green cards. } Batch Printing — Let’s say you want to generate 100 shipping labels. You may have an address file in Microsoft Excel that you would like to import into the system and have the labels produced all at once vs. needing to type out each one. } Interface Addresses from Other Applications — Can you link to differ-

ent Outlook Address books or other Microsoft applications? } Investment/Price – There are a few key areas you need to consider when comparing the total investment of the solution: } Subscription Cost — Monthly cost per subscription } Contract Term — Locations are going to need to be added and removed on an ongoing basis. One of the biggest benefits over postage meters is you should not be locked into a long term lease. Inquire about the term of the agreement along with the penalties to add and remove locations. } Number of Users per Subscription — If you have 50 locations on the program, you may want multiple people at each of the 50 locations using the tool. Find out how many users with unique logins are allowed per subscription. } Hardware Costs — What are the costs for each of the following: } Scales — They are typically offered from five to 100 pounds. } Label Printers — These are optional and are best for medium to larger shipping volumes. Stamps can be printed onto sheets or have dedicated label printers. } Supply Costs — Compare the prices for stamp sheets and label rolls. Also, do they charge shipping costs? Finally, can you use private label supplies from companies like Avery, or do you have to buy them from the provider? Conclusion The web has been the single greatest reason for the decline in mail volumes. Ironically, now there is a way to harness the power of the Internet to have a single mail distribution and management platform that can help us grow and control our mail volumes across an organization.¾

ADAM LEWENBERG, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the largest mail equipment fleet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multiple locations reduce mail related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2013, they have helped their clients save an average of 57% and over $22 million on equipment, fees and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam. | MAY-JUNE 2016


MAIL: MAKING THE MOST OF MULTI-CHANNEL Don’t be frightened by cross-media marketing; it could help you grow your business exponentially.


arketers are looking for ways to connect more meaningfully with customers. These days, they are not interested in doing 200,000 static mailing runs, but they will invest in a print and online campaign that gathers information for their database. They will send out 50,000 or 70,000 highly targeted and personalized pieces, because the response rate goes up when they do. The mailing print community sits at the back end of this process, but it should be helping to handle the front end too. If printers don’t start having these conversations with their customers, they’ll see their print runs continuing to get smaller and smaller. Their revenues will go down unless they move upstream and help provide the online and digital components of the communications program, which are starting to now drive the high-value print component. What mail printers need to be offering their customers is cross-media services. This phrase scares some because it sounds like something new, intangible, and completely outside their comfort zone, but it is definitely worth investigating. And, if you’re already printing variable data mailings, cross-media does not have to be that hard to do. 16

MAY-JUNE 2016 |

What Is Cross-Media Marketing? Cross-media is a form of direct marketing that combines multiple channels such as direct mail, email, SMS (text) messages, websites, mobile apps, and social media. With a consistent look and feel across all channels, cross-media is a powerful tool for companies to engage with their customers. A simple example of cross-media is a standard direct mail piece that includes a personal URL (pURL), which the recipient of the mailer can type into a web browser or click on a QR code to view a personalized landing page. This campaign uses just two channels, print and the web. This example can be deployed for many uses — event registration, surveys, database cleansing, and more. A more sophisticated example would also include using the QR code on the printed mailer to take a recipient directly to a mobile-friendly website, so mobile is a third channel. Using multiple channels increases the reach of the campaign by supporting customers’ preferred means of receiving communications, making it more likely that recipients will respond to a call to action. Cross-media also increases opportunities for engagement by offering different types


of media, such as video or interactive 360-degree views of a product, in addition to the static content in a printed mailer. Increased Response Perhaps more importantly, using multiple channels produces significantly better response rates than any one channel can on its own. There is substantial evidence that including a printed piece in a marketing campaign can significantly increase the response rate. According to an Adobe study, companies who introduced a mail component into their campaigns to increase sales leads or new customer acquisition reported a 12% increase in responses over email alone. And the more channels used, the better the response rates become: figures from InfoTrends show that a direct mailer plus a web landing page or email can increase response rates by 27%, while having both the web page and email in addition to the mailer raises them by 37%; adding mobile marketing as well raises the rate by 45%. A UK direct marketing company ran a cross-media campaign to educate its own clients and to raise money for a variety of charities and achieved a 53% response rate.

Another key aspect of cross-media is personalization. Study after study has confirmed that consumers respond more readily to communications that are tailored to their specific situation, needs, or desires than to ‘one size fits all’ advertising. Depending on the sector, personalized campaigns can outperform static ones by a factor of up to 10. Cross-media is much more than supporting direct mail with web pages, email, or texts, however. The digital channels allow tracking of customer responses (including the use of pURLS or QR codes included in printed mailers), which brings measurability and therefore enables calculation of communication campaigns’ ROI. This then can be used to drive a cycle of continuous development and refinement of the marketing strategy. Why Printers Can Do Cross-Media While email and other digital channels may appear to be the easiest and cheapest to personalize, print retains a number of advantages: it can convey quality, has permanence, reaches all demographics, and cuts through the digital clutter. It also has high penetration rates — 91% of direct mail is opened, according to a UK Royal Mail study.

Enterprise-level companies are also looking to their printers for help with multi-channel marketing. A 2012 InfoTrends study suggested that over 45% of marketers thought it important that their print service providers should offer integrated multi-channel marketing, while a 2015 study found that two-thirds were looking for strategic help with customer communications, including transactional documents. Although managing digital channels in cross-media will initially be unfamiliar to printers, they do have a major advantage — printers know how to print and already have the necessary equipment and expertise. Complete integrated cross-media production tools give printers the means to easily plan, create, execute, manage, and analyze campaigns that include printed mailers with QR codes and personalized images, email, SMS, static, and personalized web pages for desktop computers and mobile devices. Printers with personalized mail experience will already have overcome one of the biggest hurdles to offering cross-media, which is the ability to understand and work with data and databases. The same principles are used for producing cross-media communications, so although there may

be new production or campaign management software to acquire and to learn, the underlying concepts will already be familiar. Initial ventures into cross-media can be as simple as adding pURLs or QR codes to mailers, as outlined in the examples above; more complex projects can be developed as the printer gains experience. Adding cross-media services is a way for mail printers to further cement relationships with their customers and increase their margins by moving up the production chain to produce higher-value print. It’s also a good way to grow the business — according to an InfoTrends study, half of printers who had become marketing service providers reported annual growth in excess of 20%. ¾ As vice president and general manager, value-added and Web-to-print products, for EFI, CHARLOTTE TUECKMANTEL directs EFI’s efforts in developing a range of advanced workflow technologies, including EFI DirectSmile Cross Media software. DirectSmile Cross Media, a product that received a 2015 PIA InterTech Award, helps printing companies, agencies, and corporations create, personalize, track, and automate marketing across all media without requiring HTML programming skills. | MAY-JUNE 2016


By Jessica Lowrance


ITS IMPACT ON THE SUPPLY CHAIN A candid Q&A with industry experts


he United States Postal Service has been pursuing initiatives to help it streamline its acceptance, induction, and verification of business mailings. This ambitious effort includes converting manual methods for mail quality, preparation, and postage payment accuracy to an automated environment. The Mailer Scorecard leverages information from the Intelligent Mail Barcode and electronic documentation (eDoc) supplied by mailers. The Postal Service sees the scorecard as a tool for customers (mailers and Mail Service Providers) to access their mail quality in a dashboard view over a calendar month. The results displayed determine if additional postage should be


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

assessed based on established thresholds. According to the USPS, if the percentage of error is below the established threshold or the additional postage due is less than $50, then no additional postage is assessed. The Mailer Scorecard and its implications on the industry are frequent topics for the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) and its members who are heavily involved in the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), where most of these discussions between the Postal Service and its customers are held. Every sector of the postal supply chain could be affected once the Postal Service begins collecting its assessments. PostCom thought it was necessary

to do a deep dive for the industry on the far-reaching implications and potential ramifications of after-the-fact postage assessments. We asked two of our members who are subject matter experts, Paula Stoskopf from Fairrington and Bob Rosser from IWCO Direct, to share their insights and experience with the program so far.


IWCO Direct was an early adopter of Seamless Acceptance (SA). What motivated your company to pursue this authorization from the USPS?


Our company has been involved with Full Service IMb mailings and support for our client base since 2008.

We were leveraging the unique barcodes on pallets, trays, and pieces internally as an additional means of control in managing our mailing operations. As a 24/7 production environment, we saw Seamless as a way to maximize our production capacity and schedules. The USPS only has to staff DMU clerks to be on site to take random manual data collection samples from mailings with a handheld scanner as well as data validation for what was auto-finalized the day before. The rest of the mailing verification process happens automatically from Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) scans of our IMbs compared against the rates we claimed in the eDoc we uploaded to PostalOne! Our mail acceptance team has been auto-finalizing statements via SA since May 2014 and love the process when everything works as designed.


Thanks, Bob. Paula, Fairrington has been involved in the logistics end of this development, supporting your customers and their transition to eInduction and Seamless Acceptance. I am certain that your company’s experience has been different from Bob’s, but how so?


Fairrington supports the drop ship consolidation transportation and postage optimization needs of our customers as well as co-mail and co-palletization services. As members of the supply chain, our challenge has been that we really don’t control much of the data that goes into the eDoc for the drop ship services. Data distribution and access to important supply chain members like our company is critical to troubleshooting eInduction or drop ship entry errors for our customers. In drop ship scenarios, the consolidator does not always have access to all the data to diagnose data entry or systemic issues. It usually involves efforts from one of our customers calling us up with an issue and then digging in to available data to assist them with the troubleshooting process. As the Postal Service brought on the systems and upgraded scanners, we found that most of the questions that were raised were caused by USPS issues like scanners registered to a different USPS facility ID.


Do you think the industry and USPS will figure this out?


Yes, I think they are gaining on it. There is a focus on testing and data accuracy. I think there will still be some bumps in the road, but I am optimistic. I know that in the MTAC User Group 4, IMb Tracing and Informed Visibility, there have been discussions with the mailing industry that will allow easier data distribution and access rights to the data for the entire supply chain. The hope is that these requirements will get built in to the Informed Visibility (IV) platform, which has many releases of functionality scheduled for 2016. I am also encouraged [by] the commitment [that] the Postal Service’s Operations Management team has placed on improving service performance with the use of the data. IMb Full Service mailings with unique IMb barcodes and mailing details electronically communicated can be a very powerful diagnostic tool when both Postal Service and industry look at the presence and absence of data in the same manner. The accuracy of the data will continue to

improve to the point for industry where it can be very actionable.


That is encouraging, Paula. Bob, what impacts do you see for the industry as automated postage assessments for Full Service are still set to commence in July 2016?


Hopefully, customers have been looking at their Scorecards for some time now. The easiest things to diagnose on the Full Service side are the systemic problems, which can bring out the best detective in all of us. IWCO looked at the error, identified what job and package it mailed with, and then started asking the questions related to workflow, [such as] IMb barcode content and how each of those data elements was sourced. We then looked for patterns to see if the SOP was not followed or if input data was entered incorrectly. Assuming that a business customer has been doing what IMb Full Service require- | MAY-JUNE 2016


ments dictate, I really don’t foresee that there will be many surprised about their mail quality. If you are producing quality mailings, then you won’t expect to see any postage assessments. I expect if there are any data discrepancies remaining that the mailers should be able to identify these long before the effective date. There’s no doubt that it will be a wakeup call for customers of all sizes, whether they are Mail Service Providers or Mail Owners, to revisit their Scorecards and ensure that they aren’t at risk for any postage assessments. Things happen. Software needs to be maintained. Other programs such as Move Update, eInduction, and Seamless Acceptance will require more testing and information sharing along the supply chain. More validation of the information on the Scorecard and error details is required on these programs before mailers will feel comfortable. There are some issues remaining, like Undocumented for Seamless mailers, that still need to be worked out, with the process documented for mailers who do not have the ability to put 100% of their IMb mail volume into eDoc.


So everyone needs to be looking at what is available now. Paula, I guess I am curious as to what transformation you see taking place on rates, work share, and promotions in the future with all of this trend-based verification?


I can easily see that the data now exists to do business process engineering on the whole method of how USPS assigns attributable costs, evaluates cost coverage, and establishes rates. Better information supplied by Full Service IMb could allow more innovation. Work share may become even more meaningful and relevant as cost models are updated to reflect real-time data, which will demonstrate the real value generated to the USPS operations.


How about you, Bob? What do you see happening?

In addition to what Paula shared, I can easily see that at some future date, the USPS will be able to be more innovative with promotions and things like NSAs. With more transparent and real-time costing data, they can evaluate the contribution of any single mailer and the mail products they provide the USPS. We are


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

already seeing early signs of this with how promotions in 2016 are using A/B testing. They are looking for future connectivity in the eDoc between Test and Control packages so that customers can be incentivized for a portion of their control packages testing against a campaign that qualifies for the USPS promotion. Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) data, unique IMb barcoded pieces, and eDoc from mailers combined with the fully operational Informed Visibility platform that the USPS is building has the potential to be game changing. The USPS infrastructure today is built and staffed around historical information. In many cases, they have no

There needs to be enough development runway and planning time for business customers to make the necessary developments and investments. They need to know that the change will not be effective until a distant date, which could be as far off as 1218 months. In addition, they need to understand the changes, as well as the risk/reward to their respective organizations in terms of preparation and pricing. With enough runway and notice, those that are late or have not adopted such technologies can begin. I am optimistic that this type of approach could lead to lowest combined costs, if the pricing incentives are sufficient to drive the behavior that USPS wants to see.

The key to move forward smoothly is to implement these changes with proactive and clear communication between the MSP and their customers. idea what’s coming until it is actually on their work room floor. Predictive workloads may allow smarter staffing and capacity planning, since computers can crunch the data. This will not only help with operational efficiency but should also improve service predictability. I could easily see Mail Owners getting charged for just the services they use in the form of handlings, as the data would be there to support that in the future.


But how can the entire industry benefit if the Postal Service is able to better identify its costs and then price appropriately?


Here is how I look at it. The Postal Service will have the data and justifications to reward, through prices, customers that produce mailings that fall below the average cost, as well as reduce USPS operational costs. Best practices will begin to rise out of the ashes of average price per piece as uniform pricing is replaced with NSAs or market segment pricing for those that create efficient mailings. The Postal Service will be better able to drive behavior that either drives down cost or keeps it from growing with proper pricing. What separates the efficient customer from the less-efficient customer? Transition.


What other changes in the relationship do you see happening between the various members of the postal supply chain with all of these changes?


With eInduction and IV in place, there will certainly be more scrutiny by mail owners on quality, especially after automated postage assessments hit. The USPS is relying on accurate data as a baseline assumption for all of the Mailers Scorecard, and automated postage assessment process to work. I can really see that Mail Owners will be carefully monitoring an MSP’s quality record and any impact that may result in additional charges. I can also see more education required when errors do happen due to human error so that the postage assessment is borne by the correct party. With enough lead time, I believe these incidents to be few and far between as long as data and process validation can occur. The key to move forward smoothly is to implement these changes with proactive and clear communication between the MSP and their customers. ¾

JESSICA LOWRANCE is President Elect, Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom). She can be reached at


Optimizing with Data Quality Workflows Today, companies are faced with ever-changing business and regulatory requirements causing changes to their business data processes. Automating these processes is challenging without the help of automated workflow tools. Workflow tools can be used to easily automate complex business processes using a modular implementation “building block” approach. Companies use these workflows to automate tasks between processes with the ultimate goal of improving organizational efficiency, responsiveness and profitability. A comprehensive “data quality” workflow tool allows companies to integrate both U.S. and International address cleansing, change of address, data cleansing, data deduplication and presorting into their business processes. This “lights-out” workflow capability allows companies to optimize their data transformations and movement increasing business process efficiency.

deduplication and presorting for USPS CASS™, NCOALink® DSF2® and PAVE™ Gold presorting as well as Canada, Asia Pacific, Latin America and European countries. Companies can easily develop and deploy custom workflows in a matter of hours using the Firstlogic DQ Workflow “on-premise” software for workflow development and execution while leveraging the Firstlogic “in-cloud” services for back-end data processing and reporting. This “hybrid” approach allows companies to build efficient workflows to integrate into their business processes with no need to maintain software updates and address directories. Firstlogic DQ Workflow helps companies increase quality and productivity while reducing operational time and costs.

About the Author: Ken Kucera is the Managing Principal at Firstlogic Solutions, LLC the leading SAP Gold Partner specializing in data quality solutions., 678-256-2900.

The Firstlogic DQ Workflow™ solution provides an easy-to-use drag & drop designer interface to build data quality workflows that include both custom functions and standard functions including address cleansing, data cleansing, change of address, data

When Workflow Optimization Matters Introducing Firstlogic DQ Workflow™

Delivering easy-to-use business automation for “lights-out” U.S. and International data processing.

1-888-725-7800 •

By Paul Abdool


A VIEW FROM INSIDE USPS HEADQUARTERS The MTAC is an important force in the mailing industry, but not many mailers are aware of exactly what it entails. Here’s an inside peek.


ecently, I was honored by a Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) member when he suggested that I join the committee, one that was formed over 50 years ago in the JFK era. After going through the process of throwing my hat in the ring, submitting a couple of forms and my resume, I was approved to represent one of the 50 associations that are currently part of the committee. As a rookie to the MTAC, I thought I would share my experiences and some insights into what happens at MTAC inside USPS HQ. Day T-minus 30 days Members start to get information about the upcoming meeting. As an inquisitive neophyte of the process, I thought I’d figure out where I should stay and what surrounding events took place. I quickly learned that members stay at a plethora of different hotels as long as they were near the Metro. If you haven’t been to Washington, DC, its subway/train system is pretty good for getting around.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

DAY 1 I jumped on the Metro near my hotel, which was conveniently two stops from the USPS nerve center in L’Enfant Plaza. Lucky for me, I ran into one of the dozen or so people I know from the committee, and he took me to the front door of the USPS HQ. I then needed to get my badge to get through security. This was a bit of a task, but once again, there was another helpful MTAC member that made a phone call to a USPS escort to get us to the badge office. With credentials securely clipped to my belt, I followed the signs and a small herd of MTACers to the Ben Franklin Room at the top of the building. There was a wonderful view of the Washington Channel to my right, multiple screens and a podium to my left. The event was called to order by the MTAC Industry Chair, and he introduced the MTAC Postal Chair (a USPS employee). The 74th Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, opened the meeting with a “State of the Union” type address. She looked focused as her whole team was present, and they were one week away from

After two hours of information intake and acronym dropping (13 in the first session alone!) at a rate of one every two minutes, I knew I had some homework and studying to do to keep up with these veterans of the business. I thought after 19 years I’d be okay, but I was clearly now in the majors. Following a short break, where you had just enough time to say hi to a few people before grabbing a sugary snack and some caffeine, it was time to get comfortable for another two hours of postal information sharing. The CFO, Joe Corbett, is one of the most jovial and down-to-earth financial folks you will ever meet. I guess you need a sense of humor knowing that your operation was losing money every day. A lesser known fact about Joe: he is also a wrestling coach. I found this out since we shared an elevator and he was in his coach’s gear on his way to practice after work. The next speaker, Let Litton, from Phoenix-Hecht, a consulting firm involved in the creation of a number of databases specific to the financial services industry, spoke primarily about remittance and lockbox processing times. He stated that the efficiency gains in the past year have been impressive — as much as 20%. In the next session, I gained a deeper understanding about the core system at USPS — PostalOne! — from the CIO (Randy Miskanic) and the VP of Mail Entry and Payment Technology (Pritha Mehra). It is made up of dozens of critical apps, 100+ interfaces, thousands of tables, and millions of lines of code. As you can see, it has taken and will take time to simplify it and migrate it to a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). The good news is that testing will be complete shortly, and eInduction and Full-Service industry testing should be done by time you read this.

taking some important information to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC for short, and the legislative body) that would make some big decisions on things like a postal rate increase, the exigent rate elimination, approving a Board of Governors, and postal reform. She thanked us and the organizations that we work with for the time that we put in and will be putting in to ensure that the voice of the customers of USPS were heard. Ron Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General, provided a legislative update focused on the USPS balance sheet. A marketing update was provided by Jim Cochrane, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer. This provided information on the “Future of Mail.” Big Data is certainly affecting the USPS now, since it is gathering all sorts of stats on various market segments and delivery. His philosophy is that knowledge is the only commodity that grows when it is shared. The VP of Sales, Cliff Rucker, took the stats to a sales force operations discussion. He felt that the area of small business was going to experience major growth in the foreseeable future.

After feverish note taking, listening to presentations and hard hitting questions involving politics & Acts of Congress, the work for Day Two was outlined by the MTAC Industry Chair Erv Drewek. Fun fact: the Industry Chair position is a six-year commitment — two years as vice-chair, two years as chair, and two years as pastchair. He described the work groups, task teams, and user groups and provided some updates about their work. Work Groups address defined issues from the broader user groups or industry and provide recommendations to USPS. Task Teams attack specific issues to fast track results. Many of these groups meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to support postal reform and to get mail delivered in the best possible way for all parties involved. With my head full of facts, potential policy changes, and challenges of the postal day, we retreated to the Hall of Flags to enjoy a classy reception. I felt welcomed by the team, and they were happy to get fresh new opinions. DAY 2 After buying my first Powerball ticket and warm coffee in hand, I headed confidently into Day Two. I scanned my brand new badge and went to the First-class Mail (FCM) track. It was one of four tracks; Standard, Packages, and Periodicals were the other three. These tracks are co-chaired by an industry-focused MTAC member and a USPS leader. In the morning, we heard details about the Payment & Acceptance processes at USPS. The new Mailer Scorecard will be a hot | MAY-JUNE 2016


Automate Direct Mail Finishing! 8 Processes in one system with just one operator? Correct. Mailstream II offers high profit potential for mail finishing with its compact footprint, low cost basis, and multitude of functions. Trim, slit, score, and perforate, card tipping, remoistenable glue, folding and glue closures to meet postal requirements are all completed in one pass. Each system can be customized to meet specific applications and needs.

Rollem 800.272.4381

Disruptive Mailing Portal Breakthrough Drag-&-drop mails one or thousands. At will, self-serve. Fully automated, immediate feedback. No templates, windows, cover sheets, equipment or paper needed. Hard copy mail designed your way. FC, Std, NP – singles, batches, promotional – mixed media, envelope art. Addresses certified, Imb outer and reply. Elegantly simple. “Stunningly comprehensive. -P.F.”

Postalocity 316.262.3333

Who are the companies that are developing the solutions you need for your print/mail operation?

Find the HOT PRINT/MAIL SOLUTION COMPANIES in the next issue of Mailing Systems Technology.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

topic this year as mailers will be graded on the quality of their mail preparation. The results could lead to increased charges/penalties (called assessments) if mailers are out of compliance. Seamless Acceptance was also discussed, and the good old MERLIN systems will be eliminated. My next session had information about Enterprise Analytics and Data Usage. This focused on Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) mail, Secure Destruction, and delivery statistics; specifically, speed of processing and the logistics behind the movement of mail. After a lunch break with some new acquaintances, I sat through sessions on Mail Prep & Entry Operations and Product Innovation/ Emerging Technology. The first session discussed the handling Flats and specific work group’s 175 activities and accomplishments. The final session was a familiar space for me as promotions for the 2016 year were outlined. The promotions would include things like color transpromo documents, augmented reality, and near field communications within mail pieces. This discussion centered on the goal of increasing first-class mailing volumes again by incorporating new electronic methodologies. The thinking is simple: use mail as part of the customer experience model. Since First-Class Mail is opened and read 94% of the time and people spend a few minutes with that communication, it is extremely effective at communicating what you want them to do next, whether that is getting them to buy something, visit a website, etc. Just before the day was over, all USPS personnel were asked to leave so that the MTAC participants can speak candidly about what they heard. Opinions were shared, grievances were voiced, and new work groups were informally formed. This “keep USPS honest” session was very interesting and added to the MTAC’s Executive Committee agenda for Day Three. Now that Day Two was completed, a few people made plans to get together afterward. Formal and informal meetings took place in the DC area. DAY 3 MTAC Leadership and Executive Committee meetings took place. Work groups and user groups gathered and had face-to-face meetings at USPS Headquarters. During these meetings, there were dozens of people that called in to participate via webinar. Lively discussion took place and action items were taken away. MTAC meeting #1 completed! As I left, I found myself eagerly awaiting the next meeting, which was scheduled to take place at the National Postal Forum in Nashville, TN. ¾

PAUL ABDOOL is the vice president of enterprise solutions for Solimar Systems, Inc. He can be contacted at


CHALLENGE With more and more mailing operations assuming shipping duties as well, here’s what you need to know.


veryone has figured out how to sort mail. Each year, high-volume mailers earn billions of dollars in discounts, taking advantage of USPS workshare concepts first introduced over 25 years ago. You employ software, systems, and services that make it easy to sort, bag, and tray your mail. You find new ways to innovate, enhancing workflows with improved barcoding and tracking. You may even sort incoming letters the same way, adding efficiency and accuracy to mail management. In short, you’ve figured it out. Parcel sortation is different. In many industries, the focus has shifted to shipping. E-commerce is clearly a driving factor. According to eMarketer, digital sales exceeded $1.5 trillion last year as more than one billion web-connected buyers purchased goods online. That’s only the start. Experts expect e-commerce to grow 15% over the next two years. In the US alone, business-to-consumer parcel delivery is growing at six percent per year. With so many parcels to sort, you need to understand the challenge. Consider the five ways in which parcels differ most from mail: Shape. While letters are predominantly flat, parcels come in a wide range of sizes and shapes.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

High Spend Ratios (Equipment Cost/ Weight) A light-weight parcel could weigh a few ounces. A heavy-weight parcel could weigh a hundred pounds of more. Often, there’s no correlation between size and weight. Dimension. Beyond size and weight, you need to know the exact dimensions of each piece, as carriers charge more for bulky shipments, even if they contain low-weight items. More service options. Letters are predominantly sent via First-Class or Standard Mail. In shipping, you can choose ground, 2-day, next-day, same day. You can often select the time of day, or request special deliveries on Saturday or Sunday. Multiple carriers. While letter mail is the domain of the USPS, dozens of carriers handle parcels, including USPS, FedEx, USP plus a host of local and regional providers. Each carrier has their own rates, forms, rules and requirements. While the distinct attributes of parcels and carriers add a level of complexity, the core principles behind parcel sortation will sound familiar. The primary goal, of course, is to maximize discounts. In some cases, you can save up to 40% or more by routing

a parcel to the right carrier. You’ll want to process parcels in the most efficient manner to minimize manual processing. Plus, like in mail, you’ll want to focus on accuracy, security, and tracking. New Technologies Can Help You Capitalize on this Growth Opportunity Shipping is the future, and organizations need to position themselves as capable, value-added providers if they hope to gain their fair share of this emerging market. Fortunately, innovations in hardware and software, both physical and digital, can make it easier to transition into the parcels space. To excel, organizations will need the right tracking and technologies. Here are the seven must-have capabilities: 01. Multi-carrier management Success starts with your ability to compare costs and service options across multiple carriers. You’ll need ways to calculate rates instantly, taking into consideration any fees or surcharges, so you can identify the best shipping option. 02. Automated parcel loading Find ways to minimize manual processes. Whether you sort parcels in sacks or cartons, singular or in bulk, automated and

By Grant Miller

semi-automated parcel loading can help boost productivity and minimize errors. 03. In-line scale and 3D measurement Rates are based on size and shape, so you’ll need an ability to weigh parcels on-the-fly while accurately calculating dimensions. 04. Precise address readers Handwritten labels can be difficult to decipher. Optical character recognition technology (OCR) and higher read rates lead to fewer mistakes so you can achieve on-time delivery. 05. In-line image capture In addition to reading addresses, you’ll also want an ability to scan 1D and 2D barcodes. Leading systems also include built-in cameras that not only measure dimensions, but also record the condition of every package. 06. Automated label printing Each carrier has their own forms and rules. With an automated, in-line label, print and apply process, you can expedite parcel preparation and ensure each piece conforms to the manifest requirements. 07. Back-end integration Sortation does not occur in a vacuum. Each

parcel represents an order, a customer, an invoice, an expense. Best-in-class solutions will seamlessly integrate with virtually any backend flat file, database, or system, with support for client billing and custom reporting. These capabilities are readily available today. In most cases, you may choose to add technology to your in-house operation or partner with service bureaus who already provide this expertise. Either way, the right approach to parcel sortation will provide greater accuracy, increased efficiency, and significant savings on carrier costs. Consider the Possibilities The right parcel sortation technology can serve as an entrée into new markets. Like in mailing, parcel sortation applies to incoming parcels as well. This is particularly timely, as some organizations are receiving more parcels than ever before. Consider, for example, a typical university environment. Not too long ago, inbound parcels consisted of the occasional cookie tray from grandma. Today, these same mail centers are overwhelmed by the volume of parcels received. Students can now order everything online, from books and clothing to dorm room furniture. Groceries, household goods, and high-tech peripheries arrive

every day, and mail centers are expected to sort, manage, and distribute each piece. Some schools are now using their sortation equipment to take a picture of each piece as it arrives, automatically emailing the recipient with pick-up instructions. That’s a smart use of technology. Clearly, the lines between mailing and shipping continue to blur. While many mailers are considering how they can expand into parcel sortation, the reverse is also true. In most cases, the technology, processes and infrastructure required for parcel sortation can serve as the foundation for a thriving letter sorting operation. One thing is certain: in today’s borderless, hyper-connected world of commerce, no one can afford to rest on yesterday’s success. For organizations who have figured out how to sort mail, parcels are the logical next step. ¾

GRANT MILLER is Vice President Global Strategic Product Management, Strategy and Solution Delivery, Pitney Bowes. | MAY-JUNE 2016



YOUR BUSINESS GLOBALLY If you’re a mailer who is expanding into the international shipping arena, here are some tips and tricks to making the jump a successful one.


MAY-JUNE 2016 |

By Wanda Senne

Introduction E-commerce made it a breeze for a shopper to buy something from the other side of the US, and now retailers and delivery companies are making it just as easy for shoppers to buy something on the other side of the world! According to a 2015 USPS report, almost 40% of consumers are shopping more via website, catalog, or phone compared to two years ago. Having a successful online business includes offering easy international shipping options. If you are considering plans to grow your online business, now, more than ever, is the time to start. More than 80% of online consumers live abroad, and the international online market is growing 51% faster than the domestic online market. Plugging into local global markets is easier than you may have thought. You can be successful in the world of international mail and e-commerce. There are many solutions available to decrease costs and manage your communications in the international marketplace. The 2014 numbers published in September 2015 rank the top 10 marketplaces: 1) China 2) US 3) United Kingdom 4) Japan 5) Germany

6) France 7) South Korea 8) Canada 9) Russia 10) Brazil

2015; this is the highest level in the last three years. Fifty-eight percent reported increased sales in 2014, and 49% reported sales growth in 2013. The most common factor in driving customer satisfaction is on-time delivery. The growing trend shows that consumers and business managers research purchases online before buying in stores, with a high percentage purchasing online. The ease of the return process and better quality products have fueled the amazing growth phenomenon. Take into account the following considerations, goals, and solutions to decrease costs as you manage international communications: } Quantity: Are you sending more than 50 packages at a time? If you are, you may want to consider using a service provider. If you are not, you may want to download a free desktop software solution from the United States Postal Service to help you navigate the requirements. } Weight < 70 lbs / Dimensions: Is your product lightweight? If it is, you have excellent lower cost shipping solutions available to you. } Arrive in 2, 8, or 14+ days: When does your product HAVE to be there? Consider offering a free or discounted shipping option to your international customers. If they need it there sooner, let them buy up to a faster service. Use the faster

services as a profit center. } Destination Country: Each country has specific regulations as to what you can import. For example, you cannot send cameras to China, shoes to Italy, or e-cigarettes to Mexico. The USPS’ International Mail Manual is a great resource for a list of the restricted items by country. } Full-Cycle Tracking and Proof of Final Delivery Critical: Do you need a receipt for the product? There are some shipping methods that will provide this for you, at a cost. } Customs Fees, Duties/Tariffs, and Taxes: This can be complicated! That’s all I have room to write in this article. Good news: There are software solutions to help manage this. Balance speed and affordability. The chart below illustrates your choices. DIY or Partner When it comes to home repair, I’m a “Doit-Yourselfer” (for most simple things). For over 20 years, when I would get a question about international mail and parcels, I called the company I’ve worked at since October of 2015. Why? Because like many topics, there are experts in the various segments or specialties, much like the medical field, or any industry. I had all I could do to stay current with domestic mail working with just the USPS! International mail reaches

Are you surprised to see that the US is not the number-one online marketplace? Many people are. According to Internet Retailer, more than 10 million Chinese consumers purchased 34 million products from foreign brands on Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.’s Groupon-like group-buying site in the first nine months of 2015. Nearly half of those imported goods purchased on were food products, and 77% of the purchasers were women. Studies show many Chinese consumers, especially those in the growing urban middle class, don’t trust the safety of Chinese food, skin care, and nutritional products and often seek out foreign brands. Royal Mail’s January 2016 study of UK Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) e-retailers revealed growing business confidence. Eight out of 10 SME e-retailers are confident they will experience increased sales in 2016. Almost three quarters (74%) of SME e-retailers increased their sales in | MAY-JUNE 2016


over 200 countries, and involves numerous country-specific posts and carriers. If you have fewer than 50 parcels in your mailing cycle, only have a few delivery service requirements for your package, and are a “Do-it-Yourselfer,” you may want to register for and download the USPS’ free software solution Click-n-Ship Business Pro from its Business Customer Gateway. If your volume is higher, and you want flexible options for fast or slower delivery, you may want to consider a shipping partner. One new facet of international mail I’ve learned (unlike domestic) is that international mail is classified as “competitive” with the USPS. Most domestic US mail falls into the market dominant category, meaning that you work solely with the USPS for processing and delivery. While mailing with the USPS is an exceptional solution, it is not the only method to reach the world. There are a multitude of access points and posts able to process your mail and parcels, and just as many prices associated with them. Mail and parcels can be en-

tered directly into the destination country’s postal system. Depending on the situation, a global courier using door-to-door delivery is the best solution. Here are a few examples; you decide which option is the best. I list the fastest and slowest; there are ranges in between available as well. Example One: Two pound publication/ booklet mailing to Brazil. } 1 – 3 days for $128.80 } 10 – 21 days for $12.13 Example Two: Five pound box containing a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt mailing to Brazil. } 1 – 3 days for $168.85 } 6 – 10 days for $86.95 Because weight exceeds 4.4 pounds, you cannot take advantage of three slower options. Example Three: If the blue jeans and T-shirt could be packaged so that the weight is

under 4.4 pounds, the options are better. • 1 – 3 days for $155.60 • 10 – 21 days for $33.00 Expanding your mailing reach internationally is an exciting opportunity for you to grow your business! There are many options available to you, and people who focus on this industry segment just for you. After 35+ years working with domestic mail, I am very glad to be expanding my focus to include international mail. Just like any business endeavor, there are details and complexities to consider. It’s a relief to know that there are many successful experts who developed tools over many years to navigate the world of international mail. I encourage you to grow your business globally. It is easier than you may have realized. ¾

WANDA SENNE is Access Worldwide’s Vice President, Postal Affairs with over 35 years in the mailing industry. She can be reached at

DON’T RUN YOUR PRINT/MAIL PROCESS BLINDFOLDED. Get all the information you need with

www.Mailing 30

MAY-JUNE 2016 |