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WHAT’S IN THE 2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE? PAGE 17 NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2020 MailingSystemsTechnology.com

OUR ANNUAL SURVEY RESULTS, PART TWO:

OUR READERS’ VIEW OF THE USPS AND CURRENT INDUSTRY EVENTS PAGE 14

INTERNATIONAL MAIL CHANGES ARE ON THE HORIZON. PAGE 26

TOP 5 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY ON YOUR MAIL. PAGE 28

IS IT POSSIBLE TO SLOW THE DOCUMENT INDUSTRY TALENT DRAIN? PAGE 10


TABLE OF CONTENTS

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020 | VOLUME 33 ISSUE 6

DEPARTMENTS

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05 Editor's Note

Ending on a High Note By Amanda Armendariz

06

Real-Life Management

Is Your Team Safe? By Wes Friesen

08 Inkjet Info

Paper’s Key Role in Production Color Inkjet By Jim Hamilton

10 The Trenches

COVID and the Document Industry Talent Drain

By Mike Porter

12 Software Byte

24

28

Using Informed Visibility to Access Mail Quality Data By Jeff Peoples

FEATURES 14 Our Annual Survey: Part Two

What do our readers think of the USPS and other current industry events?

By Amanda Armendariz

22 A Look Back and a Look Ahead

2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the mail industry, but 2021 could bring brighter days.

By Kurt Ruppel

24 Improving Customer Experience Through the Mail

Although printed materials are more expensive to create and mail, the response rate they generate means they are worth the investment.

By Keith Woedy

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26 2021 International Mail Changes Lead to Uncertainty

Higher postage prices in January and the effects of COVID-19 are leaving mailers feeling unsure about international mail in the new year.

By Merry Law

28 An Industry Insider’s 5 Hidden Tricks to Save Money on Mail

There are three main factors influencing rising mailing costs; here are five big ways to mitigate them. By Adam Lewenberg

SPONSORED CONTENT 13 Are You Sitting on a Mountain of Savings? 17 Innovation Showcase


EDITOR’S NOTE VOLUME 33, ISSUE 6 MAGAZINE STAFF President Chad Griepentrog Publisher Ken Waddell Editor Amanda Armendariz amanda.c@rbpub.com Contributing Writers Wes Friesen, Jim Hamilton, Merry Law, Adam Lewenberg, Jeff Peoples, Mike Porter, Kurt Ruppel, Keith Woedy Audience Development Manager Rachel Chapman rachel@rbpub.com Advertising Ken Waddell 608.235.2212 ken.w@rbpub.com Design Kelli Cooke

MadMen3 PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098 Tel: 608.241.8777 Fax: 608.241.8666 Email: customerservice@rbpub.com

ENDING ON A HIGH NOTE BY AMANDA ARMENDARIZ

SUBSCIRBE Subscribe online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. SEND SUBSCRIPTIONS TO: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Call 608.241.8777 Fax 608.241.8666 E-mail rachel@rbpub.com Online at MailingSystemsTechnology.com. REPRINT SALES ReprintPro 949.702.5390 www.ReprintPros.com All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2020 by MadMen3 All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, MadMen3 or its staff becomes property of MadMen3. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of MadMen3 or Mailing Systems Technology. MadMen3 and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. MAILING SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 33 Issue 6] is published six times per year (January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December) by MadMen3, PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098, 608-241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098

M

aybe “ending on a high note” is a bit too optimistic of a title for my last editor’s note of 2020, but I do have to say that there is a sense of hope about the new year that I would have thought unlikely just a few short months ago. There have been promising strides made in terms of a vaccine for COVID-19, and it seems that the world as a whole is thinking that we may be able to resume normal life more quickly than we had thought. On the industry front, there is hope that postal reform may actually be a focus for Congress in the new year. Of course, we will have to wait and see who will be selected to head up the relevant committees, but many in the industry feel that this could be the year significant changes are made. While on the campaign trail this fall, President-Elect Joe Biden mentioned some of his priorities in terms of postal reform; one of these goals would be to eliminate the mandate (enacted in 2006)

that the Postal Service pre-fund retiree health benefits. This move is one that has long been advocated for by many in the industry, since this requirement is a significant contributing factor to the USPS’s repeated fiscal year losses. Of course, eliminating the pre-funding requirement, while a good start, would not singlehandedly erase the USPS’s financial woes. While package volume is up, First-Class and Marketing Mail volumes are down, and it’s unlikely they will ever return to the levels of the pre-digital age. Creative solutions will need to be explored in order to set the USPS on the path to solvency. Whatever the new year holds, we at Mailing Systems Technology will be your industry partner, bringing you the news and information needed to succeed. As always, thanks for reading.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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REAL-LIFE MANAGEMENT

IS YOUR TEAM SAFE? BY WES FRIESEN

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e all know the importance of keeping our teams physically safe, but it is also important for our success to keep our teams psychologically safe. What is psychological safety? Amy Edmondson from Harvard University is considered the world’s leading expert on psychological safety. She describes psychological safety as a “climate in which people are comfortable expressing and being themselves. People feel comfortable sharing concerns and mistakes without fear of embarrassment or retribution. They are confident that they can speak up safely... they know they can ask questions when they are unsure about something. They tend to trust and respect their colleagues.” Research has shown many benefits of psychologically safe work environments, including:  Mistakes are reported quickly so that prompt corrective action can be taken  Seamless coordination across groups or departments is enabled  Potentially game changing ideas are shared  Drives higher engagement, collaboration, conflict resolution, and participation  Makes it easier to include the voice of sometimes quiet members such as women, introverts, and minorities Psychological Safety Survey So, how psychologically safe is your team right now? One tool to evaluate is to use the survey below, which consists of seven questions that Edmondson suggests asking our team members. Ask your team for candid responses based on their recent experiences. We can request simple “Yes” or “No” responses, which

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would be acceptable. To get a finer calibration of responses, I recommend using a five-point scale (e.g. 1 = Strongly Disagree, 2 = Disagree, 3 = Neither Agree or Disagree, 4 = Agree, 5 = Strongly Agree). 1. If you make a mistake on this team, is it often held against you? 2. Are members of this team able to bring up problems and tough issues? 3. Do people on this team sometimes reject others for thinking differently? 4. Is it safe to take a risk on this team? 5. Is it difficult to ask other members of this team for help? 6. Would anyone on this team deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts? 7. When working with this team, are my unique skills and talents valued and utilized? Follow-up is important. We can collectively highlight and capitalize on the perceived strengths of the team. And we can single out the weakest areas, and participatively work with the team to make improvements. Follow-up builds trust, earns respect, and will help our team take future surveys seriously because they know they will be acted on. Keys to Build Psychological Safety What can we do to build a higher level of psychological safety? Following are some ideas to consider: 1. Measure Psychological Safety. We can explain and then implement the preceding survey in order to get an assessment of the starting place with our team(s). 2. Hold a team retrospective. Once we have the survey results analyzed, we can discuss with our team. We can

also discuss some of the following key components below and show our personal commitment to having a safe workplace. It is important for us as leaders to set the tone and be a positive example of openness, transparency, and collaboration. 3. Be human. We are all part of the human family, and share universal needs such as appreciation, respect, grace, social status, and happiness. Recognizing these deeper needs naturally elicits trust and promotes positive language and behaviors. Paul Santagata, an executive at Google, has developed a useful tool called “Just Like Me.” The idea is to reflect that other people we interact with are just like me in a number of ways, such as:  This person has beliefs, perspectives, and opinions, just like me.  This person has hopes, anxieties, and vulnerabilities, just like me.  This person has friends, family, and perhaps children who love them, just like me.  This person wants to feel respected, appreciated, and competent, just like me.  This person wishes for peace, joy, and happiness, just like me. 4. Establish adult rules and norms. Most companies say they trust their employees, but then their rules often show the opposite. Psychological safety is encouraging people to behave like adults; to address things openly, with respect and candor. Corporate and team rules should promote that same behavior. Trust is not built with words, but with actions. Some companies are now offering an unlimited vacation policy, while others have streamlined the approval process for expense reports. We may have limited opportunity to change corporate rules, but we can at least review and modify our team rules to show we trust our employees. Key point: when policies trust rather than control employees, people feel safe to bring their best selves to work. 5. Give employees a voice and encourage participation. A key component of psychological safety is to give all employees a voice, which includes encouraging people to challenge established practices that may not make sense. We want people to feel


safe to speak candidly and honestly, which will prevent the problems that come from group think. One practice to consider is conversational turn-taking, where each team member has a turn to speak up. Managers and loud people should go last, in order to not unduly influence or intimidate the rest. 6. Earn and extend trust. Edmondson connects trust to psychological safety: “It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves.” We can earn trust by owning up to our mistakes, apologizing when appropriate, and being transparent and open about challenges we are facing. 7. Replace blame with curiosity. Mistakes and problems happen. Instead of blaming people, a better approach is to ask questions and work together to identify what happened and learn from the experience. 8. Promote healthy conflict. Healthy conflict exists when people feel

safe to share ideas and their perspectives, and ideas are debated in a non-judgmental manner. We want to encourage people to candidly yet respectfully express their thoughts, with the end goal of ending up with thoroughly vetted decisions that maximize benefits to the team and our stakeholders. 9. Reinforce desired behaviors. We should encourage desired behaviors and reward them when we see them being practiced. We also need to address behaviors that sabotage psychological safety. This is where putting on our coaching hat is valuable — helping people succeed by reinforcing positive behaviors and working with them to eliminate the negative. 10. Hold periodic check-ins. Building a psychologically safe workplace is not a one-time event. We need to stay diligent and be committed to the long-term. One tool to keep us and our team accountable is to periodically have intentional check-ins with

our teams and openly discuss how we are doing. Here is a closing story supporting the importance of psychological safety. Google conducted an exhaustive five-year study called Project Aristotle, which was launched to explain the differences in performance among its 180 teams. Google was surprised that the top performing teams were not comprised of the members that were the smartest or holding the most impressive credentials — the primary key to the top performing teams was their level of psychological safety!  Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA, ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. He is also an award winning University Instructor and Speaker, and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. He serves as the Industry Co-Chair of the Greater Portland PCC. Wes can be contacted at wesmfriesen@gmail.com or at 971.806.0812.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

7


INKJET INFO

PAPER’S KEY ROLE IN PRODUCTION COLOR INKJET BY JIM HAMILTON

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ver the past decade, we have seen how high-speed production color inkjet systems have revolutionized the document printing market. What is less visible is the important role that paper has played in the suitability of inkjet technology for various print applications. Ink coverage, paper type, and running cost are key factors that ultimately determine whether inkjet is the most appropriate and effective method to use, and they also play a role in the future growth potential for inkjet. Inkjet in Low Coverage Applications on Uncoated Papers Inkjet has been part of the mailing landscape for decades in applications like addressing, coding, and personalization. These highly productive printheads are typically narrow and low-resolution, and primarily suited to monochrome printing via imprinting units mounted on mailing and finishing lines. As printhead technology has improved, full-page color inkjet systems were developed that had a particular sweet spot for mailers in transactional applications. Direct mailers and book printers also benefited from these systems. The common thread between these applications is that they are often printed using relatively low ink coverage on uncoated papers. Uncoated papers easily absorb the water-based inks that are most commonly used by the high-speed cut-sheet and roll-fed inkjet systems on the market today. In addition, at lower coverage levels, it is relatively easy to dry the resulting output without causing ripples or warps in the paper. For transactional mailers, this ability was nothing short of revolutionary. It enabled

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them to eliminate the two-step process of printing variable monochrome data onto pre-printed offset color shells with logos and other design elements. We saw transactional printers make this change virtually overnight. Direct mailers who worked with pre-printed shells were the next to benefit, and yet they often had promotional work that required higher coverage on coated papers. Was it possible for inkjet to address this as well? Coated Papers and Higher Coverage The coated surfaces of matte and glossy papers used in promotional applications present a more substantial challenge for inkjet because the surface does not readily absorb the ink. This is not a major issue for oil-based offset inks that adhere well to the paper’s surface, but without proper precautions, water-based inkjet inks may bead up on the surface of a coated paper and fail to adhere well, leaving a mottled appearance. This problem becomes even more significant for inkjet at the higher coverage levels that are common with promotional pieces using many graphics, photos, and design elements. Inkjet system providers use two main strategies to address this challenge:  Inkjet-treated papers: These papers have been treated with a solution that allows the inkjet inks to adhere well to the paper. These treatments are generally applied at the paper mill, but they can also be applied at a separate location or even at the printing site. Inkjet-treated papers provide print service providers (PSPs) with some assurance that the stocks will perform well for the applications that they print on their high-speed production color

inkjet systems. This certainly appeals to PSPs, but the challenge is that adding a pre-treatment increases the cost of the paper and generally forces the PSP to stock two classes of paper: one for their offset presses and one for their inkjet systems. This is not ideal, but it does address the problem.  Advanced inks and drying systems: These systems enable users to achieve strong results on standard offset paper stocks. The idea is that these advanced ink and drying systems will allow users to print at high coverage on just about any coated paper. While this addresses the issue, it also adds cost. In general, much of the cost of inkjet printing is built into the inks. Developing an all-purpose ink for multiple paper types adds to the cost. On top of that, more ink is consumed at higher coverage. This makes it extremely important for PSPs using inkjet to understand the costs associated with ink consumption. Cost Calculations One of the things that differentiates offset printing from production inkjet is the cost of ink. Offset inks are relatively inexpensive, but this is not so with inkjet. Today, PSPs at the front lines are learning the hard way that using an inexpensive paper on an inkjet project can be financially disastrous in the long run because of the amount of ink required to achieve a goodlooking result. Furthermore, the energy consumption costs of the drying units on some of the high-end inkjet systems can add significantly to the cost of a project. If variable data isn’t part of the job, it may then become counterproductive to use digital print technology. Why not just use offset instead? It is extremely costeffective at making a lot of copies of the same thing. If that’s what you’re doing, it could be the best solution. The interplay between area coverage and paper cost is central to the success and future growth of inkjet. It is also at the center of the argument about whether pre-treated papers make the most sense versus sophisticated inks and drying systems. We are in an evolutionary time when it comes to inkjet technology. The market will ultimately decide whether a single strategy or perhaps a combination of strategies will succeed in the long run. In the meantime, keep your focus on the overall costs of paper, ink, and power consumption, and assess the implications that these have on workflow and productivity.


Paper Profiles, Speed, and Drying Three other factors are also worth considering:  Paper profiles: All inkjet printing systems offer paper profiles that are designed to achieve the best result with a given paper. There are often slight variations of these profiles related to output quality and ink consumption. If you are cost-conscious, there is a paper profile setting with a name like “Good.” If you aren’t overly concerned with print quality, this setting will work fine and will not cost you as much in consumables. If you want higher quality levels, there are ways to adjust print resolution, droplet size, halftoning, and ink usage to increase color gamut and hold finer detail. These higher quality profiles are generally called something like “Better” or “Best.” It all comes down to the amount of ink you want to use to achieve the results you need.  Speed: Inkjet systems are getting so fast that their productivity rivals web offset presses for certain run lengths — yet the issue of ink coverage can impact speed as well. You may need to run the system at a slower speed to take advantage of a

high-resolution setting and smaller droplet size so that you have better control over the volume of ink consumed. You may need to slow the system down because the dryers will need more time to dry the ink at high coverage. Neither of these options is particularly appealing to someone who has paid millions of dollars for a high-speed system.  Drying: Did you ever notice how long some production inkjet document printing systems are? This has a lot to do with drying. There are a lot of components in these systems when you consider the imaging heads, the dryers, and the required transport systems, but one of the things that helps is giving the paper some extra “travel time” to dry. In short, the longer that the air, heat, and low humidity of the dryers have time to act on the paper, the better it will dry. The system may even need an extended segment to put some humidity back into the paper to keep it dimensionally stable. As is often the case with dryers, longer is usually better. Recommendations for Mailers Mailers who own or are considering

the purchase of a high-speed color inkjet system should look carefully at their application mix and overall paper use. Cost calculations for your system should be closely tracked and include the impact of ink consumption, energy use, paper type and cost, operator cost, paper waste, overhead, and required consumables such as inkjet paper treatments. It is also worth looking at your customers’ requirements for turnaround time, personalization, and just-in-time manufacturing. These advantages of digital print can have an important impact on customer satisfaction that goes beyond the raw cost calculations. Whatever you do, your decisions about paper use will be critical to the success of inkjet in your facility.  Jim Hamilton of Green Harbor Publications (www.greenharbor.com) is an industry analyst, market researcher, writer, and public speaker. For many years he was Group Director in charge of InfoTrends’ Production Digital Printing & Publishing consulting services. He has a BA in German from Amherst College and a Master’s in Printing Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

9


THE TRENCHES

COVID AND THE DOCUMENT INDUSTRY TALENT DRAIN BY MIKE PORTER

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he coronavirus has made a mess of the employment landscape, but companies in the print and mail industry can’t afford to sit around and wait for things to get back to normal. No one knows how long it will take, or which parts of “normal” will really return. As companies struggle to develop strategies in such an uncertain environment, they can’t lose track of the challenge presented by an aging workforce. That was an issue before the pandemic, and it will still be a predicament when we are finally through with the daily threat of this infectious disease. The average age of a print industry worker is 47, and a good number of key positions are held by people well beyond that mark. Bringing fresh blood into the industry should still be a priority. The COVID-19 masks may cover a few telltale wrinkles, but skilled workers in the print and mail business are still growing older and getting closer to retirement every day. Historically, skilled workers in this industry have learned their trade through on-the-job training. Once the economy recovers, nearly all the companies in the print/mail business will be looking for replacement workers. Finding someone who can step into a key role in your company on their first day is a long shot. You can’t wait until you’ve got major experience gaps in your print and mail operations crews before you begin working on a replacement strategy. Labor unions and trade schools aren’t emphasizing document production as a field of study. It’s going to be up to individual print/mail service providers 10

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to develop training programs for themselves. Start with promising candidates and help them learn your business from the inside. Provide training in a wide variety of areas so your future workforce is ready to handle new developments in technology and markets. Hiring Millennials Younger people will be handling your equipment, customer relationships, and data. That means you’ll be hiring some millennials, who already represent a good portion of the workforce. You must set aside any negative opinions you have about the work ethic of this group. They are the people in the labor pool. Millennials are looking for opportunities where they can develop quickly and have chances to advance. The print/ mail business, though it’s probably not at the top of any millennial’s list of target industries, could provide them a path to their career objectives. Employers must structure their organizations to meet the needs of their upcoming workforce and communicate the benefits of working in the industry to potential job applicants. The self-centered attitude of millennials on your staff could be an advantage. They want to be treated as individuals and they interact with others over multiple channels and methods; the same traits that are driving the personalized and datadriven omni-channel communications your company is probably producing. Who better to recognize deficiencies in an approach or notice an unmet need than someone who embraces these concepts as a major factor in their lives?

Effect of New Technology New technology is turning shops formerly reliant on manual, labor-intensive workflows into automated document production factories. Today’s presses, mail inserters, and other production equipment are thinking machines. Much like the modern automobile, new digital print/mail equipment diagnoses problems itself, makes adjustments on the fly, and communicates with operators via information-rich monitor screens. These advances should be attractive to a younger, tech-savvy workforce. Intelligent machines can contribute to a rejuvenated workforce in two ways: 1. The learning curve for new operators and technicians is shortened 2. Younger workers are digital natives and comfortable with electronic displays and guided operations found on newer equipment Remember when coffee making was an art? Serving espresso used to require baristas to grind the beans to a certain degree of fineness, tamp down the grounds, pull the shots at the right time, and steam the milk. Failing to perform any of those tasks correctly resulted in a sub-par drink with customer experience ramifications. Once the coffee shops began using automated espresso machines, all the employees had to do was press the right button. Training times shrunk, and employers didn’t worry so much about employee turnover. Grocery store clerk jobs changed because of technology too. At one point in time, clerks were rewarded for their speed and accuracy as they punched the price of each item into a cash register and deducted coupons or accounted for soda and beer bottle deposits. They even had to know how to make change! On my last grocery store visit, the self-checkout lanes outnumbered human clerks by about three to one. The same phenomenon is playing out in document centers. As print and mail facilities migrate to digital workflows and install intelligent production equipment, employee knowledge and experience necessary to do the job without constant supervision is shrinking. It won’t take years for a pressman or other machine operator to become proficient. What People Do You Need? In an industry like print and mail that is becoming ever more complex, certain traits


and tendencies are favorable. As you bring in new employees to replace seasoned veterans who are retiring, seek candidates with the following characteristics: Problem Solving — Candidates should be interested in solving problems and not frustrated when things don’t work out the first time. New applications and processes will present new challenges. Detail Oriented — Automation may replace some manual operations of the past, but the humans will still be a weak link. Look for people who can pay attention to the details and spot trouble when it occurs. Organized — This is a must in production print and mail. Depending on their position, people may juggle several print/ mail jobs or clients simultaneously. A disorganized person is prone to mixing up the jobs or missing a deadline. Communication Skills — This includes critical items like shift turnover conversations, but also more strategic types of communication such as documenting issues. For someone in a customer-facing role, such as an account manager, communication skills are vitally important.

Stress Tolerance — Everyone has deadlines in the print/mail business, and sometimes they overlap. Your new employees must be able to withstand the pressure when SLA compliance is on the line. Flexibility — Employees must learn new skills so you can adjust work assignments according to daily workloads and react to new developments. None of the skills I listed are specifically related to printing, mailing, or manufacturing. If you can find people with some experience in these areas, great! If not, look for candidates who demonstrate preferred characteristics and are willing to learn about your business. Start Now The coronavirus may have put staff recruitment on the back burner for now, but that doesn’t mean you should delay developing a strategy you can execute once business returns to a sustainable level. The pandemic has changed lots of things for people. Pew Research reported that 22% of Americans moved, or knew someone who moved, because of health

concerns or economic conditions connected to the virus. If you laid off people during the shutdown, they may find other employment before it’s time to call them back and won’t be available. Some older laid-off workers are choosing to retire early, rather than face long (and often fruitless) job searches. You may have to add new, inexperienced employees sooner than you thought. Like seemingly everything else in 2020, predicting the long-term coronavirus effects on your staff is nearly impossible. But we have known about the greying of the workforce for some time. It’s best to be thinking about how you will address this issue now. As with many other business practices, the pandemic may accelerate the problem.  Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps his clients meet the challenges they encounter in document operations and creates informational content for vendors and service providers in the document industry. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, send a connection request on LinkedIn, or contact Mike directly at mporter@printmailconsultants.com.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

11


SOFTWARE BYTE

USING INFORMED VISIBILITY TO ACCESS MAIL QUALITY DATA BY JEFF PEOPLES

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ow that the USPS has made Seamless Acceptance mandatory, mailers are more closely monitoring their Mailer Scorecard data to pinpoint areas where errors are occurring. But how do mailers access the details of the reported errors? Using the Informed Visibility Mail Tracking & Reporting (IV-MTR) Mail Quality Data is the fastest, easiest way to gain access to this detailed information. Detailed error data from the Mailer Scorecard is available for Full-Service, Move Update, eInduction, and Seamless Acceptance. Accessing the Data This detailed error data may be requested daily, weekly, and/or monthly. The first thing mailers need to do is to enroll for Informed Visibility. From your Business Customer Gateway account, navigate to Mailing Services, then to Informed Visibility. Clicking on the blue “Get Access” button will send a message to the Business Service Administrator for your BCG account. Your BSA will then need to contact the IV-MTR Help Desk to request the BSA authorization code. When input, this will successfully set up the CRID in the application. More details are available in the USPS guide Applying for Access to IV-MTR (https://postalpro.usps.com/InformedVisibility/ApplyForAccess) on the USPS PostalPro website.

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Establishing Data Feeds Once you have received access to the data, you can set up a data feed to receive the detailed data on a periodic basis, such as daily, weekly, and/or monthly. These feeds may be customized by selecting the file format, delivery loca-

tion, frequency, CRID and Mailer Role, Program and Error Types, and specific data fields desired. These feeds may be modified as needed. It is important to note that downloads are available from the IV-MTR application for only seven days, so it is recommended that mailers create a process for accessing this data on a routine basis so that the data is available when you need it. Why This Data Is Important You may think this is all a lot of work to get set up and would prefer not to bother with it. However, this detailed data is precisely what you will need in cases where you receive assessments from the USPS, such as for Seamless Acceptance errors. This is especially true for undocumented mail piece errors. It is critical for mail preparers to regularly download and store this data in tables that will allow you easy access to the necessary data to research and/or dispute these assessments. Don’t procrastinate on this — a big assessment from the USPS without any means to research or dispute it can be crippling for your operation. 

Jeff Peoples is founder, president, and CEO at Window Book. With over 30 years of innovative postal solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, he has done presentations at many industry events, including GraphExpo, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, and more.

Resources: The USPS has a number of resources available for mailers wishing to access this data. There is a Mail Quality Data Fact Sheet (https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/mqd/fact_sheet), Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/mqd/faqs), instructions on Provisioning Mail Quality Data (https://postalpro.usps.com/mailing/mqd/instructions), and a listing of Error Codes (https://postalpro.usps. com/mqd/error_codes). For more information on Informed Visibility in general, access the dedicated landing page (https://postalpro.usps.com/informedvisibility) on the USPS PostalPro website.


APPLICATION ARTICLE

Are You Sitting on a Mountain of Savings? By Chris Giles

Mail and shipping may not seem like the most obvious place to find savings. But more efficient methods of sending packages and mail, and greater transparency and scrutiny over shipping and mailing expenses, can save tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for enterprises. There are many areas where mailing and shipping may unnecessarily drive up costs:  Selecting particular carriers or services (e.g. USPS First-Class Mail® vs. Priority Mail®).  Time spent on handling inbound receivables.  Lack of uniform standards for shipping and mailing processes within the same organization.  Lack of package carrier diversification. Things get even more complicated for enterprises managing a fleet of postage meters and shipping software solutions. Consider a bank with thousands of branches. That many locations mean thousands of postage meters and virtual meters — plus other shipping and mailing devices, like intelligent lockers or inbound receiving solutions. With that many devices to keep track of, it’s simply not feasible for enterprise to have a clear, consolidated overview of their shipping and mailing expenditures. The costs are spread out among too many locations and devices for any enterprise of that size to review them efficiently. Discovering savings with analytics Reaping savings on shipping and mailing starts with solutions that provide a bird’s eye view of total spend across all devices and meters. It’s not just about oversight of outbound shipping costs, either; this transparency also has to take into account the time and associated costs spent on tracking and processing inbound packages and mail.

Analytics tools that provide high-level, detailed views of an enterprise’s shipping and mailing device fleet make it possible to be more time- and cost-efficient. Data on shipping volumes and carrier rates empowers businesses to have more informed conversations to negotiate with carriers for rate and volume discounts. These solutions also empower enterprises to weed out savings far faster than employees manually searching every individual device, postage meter and cloud software for new cost opportunities. When you consider how much time that would take, the hours racked up could effectively cancel out other savings you may find. An automated analytics solution eliminates this tedious, time-consuming manual work, speeds up the whole process, and yields new time and labor savings. Weeding out costly shipping and mailing inefficiencies and generating new savings presents an opportunity to reinvest money back into the company and your employees, with new intuitive technologies, worker benefits or continuous education programs. It also frees up employees to take on new work: if workers can trim hours off mail deliveries, that means more time to tackle new opportunities. You could be sitting on a mountain of potential savings in your shipping, mailing and receiving services — but without the proper analytical tools, you’d never know it. At a time when everyone is working remotely and every employee is a potential business shipper, being able to exercise greater scrutiny and transparency over the costs and time going into your shipping and mailing functions is essential. Chris Giles, Vice President Strategic Product Sales at Pitney Bowes, has been helping clients for over 25 years maximize savings and efficiencies.

To learn how SendPro® Analytics can identify savings for your company get in touch at 877.727.3887 or visit: pitneybowes.com/us/analytics


OUR ANNUAL SURVEY: PART TWO What do our readers think of the USPS and other current industry events?

By Amanda Armendariz

I always look forward to analyzing the results of our annual survey, whether it’s part one (which appears in our September/October issue) or part two, here in the November/ December issue. It’s fascinating to track the direction our industry is heading, whether it’s a look at wages and staffing sizes or how our readers view the current happenings in our industry. This year’s survey was an especially interesting

one to put together, given that we’ve had significant operational changes implemented by the Postal Service, and we are just coming off an election with historic voter turnout (both mail-in and otherwise). So sit back, take a look, and see how your opinions line up with those of your peers. To all those who took the time to complete this survey, thank you; we wouldn’t be able to do it without you.

USPS Performance, Programs, and Current Events The number of respondents who rated the USPS performance as “excellent” went up slightly compared to last year, but on the downside, so did the number of mailers who rated the service as “fair” or “poor,” and the differences were far more pronounced in these two categories.

COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of our society. What effects have you noted with respect to your mail operation?

15.63%

Our mail volumes have dropped significantly.

50.0% 15.63%

6.25%

34.38%

We have not really noticed a difference in terms of volume we send out. We have actually increased our mailing volumes.

31.25%

46.88%

14

Excellent

Fair

Good

Poor

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

If you have decreased the amount of mail you send out, have you noticed a negative impact in terms of customer retention, customer engagement, revenue, etc.?

14.81%

48.15%

37.04%

YES

NO

Unsure


When it comes to the biggest complaint with the Postal Service, last year’s top result of “inconsistency” went down to only a little over three percent this year. “Timely delivery” now took the top spot, and whether it is due to staffing/service changes in the USPS, COVID, or something else entirely, it will be something to keep an eye on. It’s also encouraging to note that almost one-fifth of our respondents reported not having a main complaint of the Postal Service, a huge jump from not even five percent last year.

Thankfully, when it comes to Informed Visibility, the number of respondents who utilize IV have increased compared to last year, as has the number of people who use this offering and have seen positive results from it.

We utilize IV and have found that it allows us to better time our multi-channel marketing efforts. We utilize IV but haven’t seen any concrete results yet. We have not yet started utilizing IV, but plan to.

Address corrections Communication/information

0.0%

Flexibility

0.0%

Hours of operation

6.25%

Inconsistency

3.13%

Mail acceptance

3.13%

Postal personnel

6.25%

Rates/pricing

0.0%

Timely delivery Tracking None

40

30

28.13%

28.13% 21.88%

20

12.50% 6.25%

Returned mail Supplies availability

50

0.0%

Pickups/drop-offs

Reliability

Other

9.38%

Delivery accuracy

Regulations confusing or burdensome

We do not plan to utilize this offering.

0.0%

10

12.50% 9.38%

0.0% 6.25% 21.88% 6.25% 18.75%

50 More respondents use Informed Delivery than in last year’s survey, but the increase came from respondents who said they are using it but aren’t sure that they have necessarily seen any results from it.

We use ID, and we’ve seen great results from our customers! We participate in ID, but I don’t know that we’ve seen any concrete results from it.

40

30

31.25% 25%

20

21.88%

We do not yet participate in ID, but we plan to. We don’t take part in ID, and we have no plans to. Other

10

9.38%

12.50%

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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The number of our respondents who reported taking part in the USPS postage-savings promotions has stayed fairly similar to last year’s numbers, which is encouraging, given that more people report taking part in these both this year and last year than they had in some years prior.

56.25%

43.75%

YES

NO

There has been a lot of talk concerning the expected upswing in mail-in voting and the USPS’s ability to handle this surge in volume. What is your take on this? (Please note that this survey was conducted in the two months preceding the election).

What is your view of electronic communication methods as used by your organization? I embrace electronic communication methods because I believe that digital and physical mail should work together in communication efforts. I embrace electronic communication methods because I believe they are more efficient than physical mail pieces, which eventually will be eliminated. I am against electronic communication methods because I am fearful that physical mail will be replaced. I am against electronic communication methods because I personally prefer my information in hard copy format.

6.25%

37.50%

56.25%

The new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, has made the news recently with respect to some of his operational changes (like removing mailboxes, decreasing the number of sorting machines available, etc.) Which statement below best describes your feelings about these events? was hired to improve efficiency and decrease 43.75% He costs; I have no problem with what he is doing.

Costs have to be cut, and the media is blowing this out of proportion.

I think the USPS is perfectly equipped to handle a surge in mail-in ballots. After all, they handle billions of pieces every year. I think that there are going to be some massive delays in terms of ballots being delivered/counted on time, given that there is expected to be such a large increase in mail-in votes compared to previous years. I’m unsure/haven’t really given it much thought.

Unfortunately, the number of respondents who think the USPS is doing an effective job responding to the increasingly digital environment went down significantly compared to last year’s total of 52.5%.

16

34.88%

46.88%

18.75%

YES

NO

OTHER

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

his desire to increase efficiency and 21.88% Icutunderstand costs, especially given that the USPS has se-

rious financial trouble, but I find his timing of such directives (such as before an election) suspicious. I’d support these moves if they were implemented after the election. don’t think that removing mailboxes/sorting 34.38% I’m machines are the answer to the USPS financial problems, and think that these moves are simply to make it harder for people to vote by mail.

Are you concerned that some of these organizational changes are going to make it more difficult for your mail pieces to reach your customers in a timely manner, or for their return pieces (remittances, etc.) to make their way back to you?

53.13%

31.25%

15.63%

YES

NO

Unsure


What is your view on the effectiveness of direct mail for your organization?

22.58%

51.61% 25.81% 0% Direct mail is a trusted communication method, and we’ve gotten great results from it. I’m undecided; I think mail is important, but we don’t get the results we used to. I think we’ll eventually abandon mail and focus solely on our digital efforts. Other

Mail Center Management What is your number-one issue in managing your mail center? Compliance with postal regulations Customer relations

13.33% 3.33%

Facility is inadequate

0.0%

Inadequate equipment/Equipment maintenance

0.0%

Personnel issues (motivation, attendance, hiring, etc.) 10.00% Productivity or efficiency

6.67%

Relationship with USPS employees

0.00%

Safety and security

0.00%

Scheduling

3.33%

Time management

3.33%

Timely delivery of mail Training of staff Turnover Understanding/support of upper management Volume spikes/changes Workload Other

13.33% 3.33% 0.0% 3.33% 23.33% 3.33% 0.0%

INNOVATION SHOWCASE Many strategies and planned purchases had to change over the last number of months, so it is important that as you put together ideas for 2021, you are considering every available option that fits your plans to improve the quality, workflow, and production of your direct mail and customer communications. On the following pages are a select group of these options. Make sure to take a few minutes to look at them all (along with all the additional solutions featured in this magazine). Finding and selecting the right partner for your specific print-mail needs is not an easy task, so we hope the equipment, software, and services that are spotlighted will help make your job a little easier.

E H T N GE R TU PA

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Automate Your Undeliverable Mail!

Unprocessed undeliverable mail stored in a closet somewhere is costing your business way more than you can imagine. Returned mail presents a logistical and operational challenge for companies with large volumes of mail. Companies often have to perform a significant amount of manual work to determine the reason that a mail piece was returned, and then make additional efforts to update address information. With CPT’s solution, you can scan the envelopes and we’ll help you determine who was the intended recipient, why did the USPS return it, and if there is a forwarding address. Our solution can help to identify the contents of the envelope to route the image to the appropriate department within your organization. We can even send the name and address information to a service that runs the data against five databases to try and find a more current address, and only charges when they find one. With a solution from CPT, undeliverable mail no longer needs to be shoved into the closet of “nothing I can do about it.” Please contact us for a custom demonstration with your undeliverable mail.

2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Safe, secure, smart small batch correspondence Generating business correspondence from remote field offices has always been a time-consuming, error-prone, and costly necessity. And in the current post-COVID work environment, this business necessity has only gotten more challenging. With the increase in work from home (WFH) staff, organizations are now faced with having to provision their employees to produce mail that is both accurate and compliant while ensuring the safety of their employees has not been compromised. As more and more companies extend WFH policies, it is clear the hassle factor of managing adhoc correspondence is not going away. Organizations need a simple, secure, and safe solution to address the significant hassles of ad-hoc correspondence. Smart MailHub allows organizations to eliminate the costs, complexities and compliance risks associated with producing small batch business correspondence in the post-COVID WFH environment. It empowers remote and work from home staff to safely and securely submit documents for printing and mailing in a production environment. The secure, easyto-use interface facilitates the preparation and delivery of business communications right from the desktop, eliminating time-consuming and error-prone manual handling processes. Documents are sent to a “virtual” printer leveraging centralized production processes to automate the quality printing, inserting and delivery of critical correspondence. High integrity, web-based document tracking and audit details ensure accuracy, provide proof of mailing and document archiving to mitigate compliance risks. The end result is a huge boost in productivity — eliminating the ‘hassle’ factor, time and inefficiencies for remote staff to produce and manage ad hoc and small batch communications without sacrificing security or compliance, and reducing cost at the same time.

www.cptinfo.com 908.751.0709 sales@cptinfo.com

www.crawfordtech.com 866.679.0864 sales@crawfordtech.com


2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Eliminate the Green Card

Firstlogic’s Latest Products for Mailers

For over 15 years ConfirmDelivery has been helping organizations with their accountable mail. Now a division of Engineering Innovation, Inc, we’ve grown from working with a few Midwestern counties to a vast nationwide customer base from our Indiana office.

Since 1984, data-driven companies have turned to Firstlogic’s products to care for some of their most valuable assets — the data that fuels their business.

When your business needs critical information delivered with speed and accountability, ConfirmDelivery simplifies the Certified Mail process. Our program saves substantial time by eliminating the need to fill out green cards associated with Certified Mail as well as reducing the cost of postage. With our web based program, you can process one mail piece at a time or a batch of thousands. Our software is easy to implement and highly flexible. ConfirmDelivery sets itself apart in the industry by providing patented tracking technology for each mail piece. Track by recipient, company, location, customer reference number or USPS tracking number. Manage recipient signatures via query or have them automatically emailed for easy print out or electronic storage. We also work closely with the post office in helping our clients find lost mail pieces and obtain the delivery information which is crucial with Certified Mailings. With ConfirmDelivery you have an efficient, accurate system with tracking at your fingertips.

Firstlogic’s DQ10 software combines file preparation, address quality, data enhancement, and matching/consolidation in a comprehensive data quality suite. The company recently released three new products that help their customers improve the deliverability of their mail: Mover IQ® employs proprietary parsing algorithms to identify consumers and businesses that file USPS® change of address notices, driving higher mail deliverability and greater ROI on mailed communications. Sequence IQ® increases mail deliverability performance by leveraging the USPS DSF2® data. Eliminate vacant buildings, empty lots, or seasonal properties from mailing lists and benefit from high density postage rates. Address IQTM is a C++ API that allows developers to integrate their applications with Firstlogic’s suite of address correction and enhancement products. An all-in-one package corrects addresses, handles move updates, adds geocoding, and more. Firstlogic offers data-driven business performance and competitive advantages with solutions designed to meet today’s business challenges.

www.confirmdelivery.com 888.960.6245 sales@confirmdelivery.com

www.firstlogic.com 678.256.2900 firstlogic.com/contact-us


2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Firstlogic Serves Customers for 35 Years

Data-driven companies rely on Firstlogic’s products to care for some of their most valuable assets — the data that fuels their businesses. Many customers have used the Firstlogic data quality products for over 35 years! We serve large and midsize data-driven companies across all major industries. Firstlogic customers regard us as trusted data quality experts. Grounded on strong faith and values, product innovation, reliability, and performance, we are driven to establish longterm partnerships to ensure our customers success. The explosive growth and use of data by our customers makes data quality more important than ever. The team at Firstlogic has responded with two new products and enhancements: Workflow IQ® Java, .Net, and C++ APIs allow customers to embed address cleansing, data cleansing, matching, and enhancement capabilities inside custom workflows and applications. Enhance IQ® is a hybrid on-premise/in-cloud platform delivering on-demand services to enhance marketing databases and mailings. Increase marketing campaign ROI by delivering precise targeting with enhanced data.

2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

High-speed letter sortation at an affordable price!

NPI has been designing leading-edge sorting equipment for over 40 years setting the standard for affordable, high quality, high speed, low maintenance machines, while meeting the highest expectations in automated mail sorting with the industry’s most compact design. NPI equipment currently operates in over 27 countries providing functionality specific to each country and each customer’s operational requirements. Maxim is NPI’s premier, high-speed letter sorter reaching speeds of up to 40,000 mail pieces per hour. This system offers the most compact, ergonomic design in the industry. The Maxim utilizes software-based decipher OCR technology running on standard off-the-shelf computers. Patented, precision anti-jamming technology reduces document damage, resulting in increased throughput and uniform stacking of the entire sort bin. Maxim stackers utilize binkicker systems eliminating the safety risks presented by systems using bin augers. The user-friendly operator interface allows networking of multiple systems.

Data drives every business. Data quality software enables organizations to get maximum benefit from the customer information they’ve collected and stored.

www.firstlogic.com 678.256.2900 firstlogic.com/contact-us

www.NPIsorters.com 888.821.7678 (SORT) sales@npisorters.com


2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Mail Forwarding and EMail Delivery is an Essential Corporate Practice

2020-2021 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

High Quality Hot & Cold Glue Systems

Gluing Systems & Machinery, Inc. (GMS®) has been servicing the needs of the converting and graphic arts industries since 1977. Our focus is on providing an American made, high quality, and performance-based hot glue systems and cold glue systems with flawless results. GMS understands your business and can provide you with a product that performs beyond your expectations.

The work-from-home transition has forced many organizations to restructure how they operate. Workflows that depend on daily delivery of physical documents need to be adjusted as companies abandon the centralized office model. The mail continues to be sent to employees who are now working remotely.

microglue® is a complete line of both hot glue systems and cold glue systems and accessories. This product line consists of programmable 2, 4, and 8 channel pattern controllers, hot glue melt units, hot and cold glue applicator valves, and a variety of cold glue systems. With high-quality results at a fantastic price, the microglue line is an effective choice for your adhesive application needs.

The Tritek OASIS is a complete mail delivery system that includes software and hardware which automatically feeds letter and flat mail items, OCR processes and images those items, barcodes each item, physically sorts mail, opens it and extracts the contents for email delivery. This approach is for larger mailrooms and volumes that need to sort physical mail and emailed mail pieces automatically. This method does not require manual processing of mail pieces. All steps in the processes are automated.

Designed to be expandable for future applications, the micromailer® offers an affordable solution for the most direct mail applications and is in compliance with current postal requirements.

www.tritektech.com 302.239.1638 info@tritektech.com

www.microglue.com 707.285.3392 sales@microglue.com

microgluer® is a family of small-format buckle plate folding and gluing machines, designed to simplify and streamline the folding and gluing operation for mailing applications. The microgluer® is the simplest and easiest to use tabletop folder with an integrated glue system.

®


A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK AHEAD 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the mail industry, but 2021 could bring brighter days.

By Kurt Ruppel

M

ailers are a resilient lot. We’ve been challenged by the barriers 2020 has thrown in our path, but most of us are hanging on and looking forward to (what we hope will be) brighter days in 2021. While uncertainty won’t be going away in 2021, let’s look at what we might be able to expect in the postal world next year as we plan budgets and operational strategies for our companies. 2021 Postage Rates The one place we do have clarity is the CPI-based postage rate change scheduled for January 24, 2021. The average increase for First-Class Mail is 1.8%, with most of the increase focused on automation letters and flats. The average increase for Marketing Mail is 1.5%, but here, too, the increases are highly targeted. Flats will see increases of about 3.6%, and while many letters rates go up less than the class average, High Density ECR tiers will experience an increase of 5.8%. While High Density will still see significant savings compared to mail entered at the five-digit

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

rate, we will likely see mailers who have been using this rate trim volumes to help them absorb this significant rate increase. The narrowing of the price differential between SCF entry and NDC entry to $0.004/piece is of great concern to those drop-shipping Marketing Mail letters to destination postal facilities. In some cases, the savings for entering mail at an SCF may not be sufficient to justify the extra cost of taking mail there, with the result being a shift in volume to NDC-entry. One piece of the pricing puzzle remains unclear. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has yet to issue a final order resulting from their review of postage rate-setting processes. The mailing industry remains concerned that if the PRC grants the Postal Service authority to raise rates significantly above the CPI cap, we will see additional declines in mail volume. While the PRC seems close to issuing a ruling, it also seems to be waiting until we have a clearer picture of whether Congress will provide any additional financial support to the Postal Service as part of COVID-19 relief legislation.

USPS Financial Stability This year has been a challenging one for the Postal Service. The COVID-19 pandemic has directly and indirectly affected the USPS workforce. This resulted in isolated, but significant, worker shortages and delivery delays in the spring. Since then, the Postal Service has been able to hire temporary workers and better balance available staffing with mail and parcel volumes. The Postal Service also experienced drops in mail volume across all classes that was partly compensated by a jump in parcel volume to levels usually only seen during holiday peak periods. Both First-Class and Marketing Mail volumes are now well off their early lows, but still not back to pre-pandemic levels. The large volume of political mail in the system this fall has strengthened Marketing Mail numbers, but that obviously dropped off after November 3. Earlier in the year, the Postal Service expressed concern about lower mail volumes having a negative impact on its cash flow. However, revenue through August (most recent figures available)


has remained solid, running ahead of both the same period last year and the FY2020 financial plan. Although expenses, driven largely by COVID-19 mitigation efforts, are also up, at the end of its third fiscal quarter on June 30, 2020, the Postal Service held unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of $12.9 billion — $4 billion more than was available on October 1, 2019 at the beginning of the fiscal year. We are cautiously optimistic about the Postal Service’s continued financial stability and eager to see the full FY2020 financial reports, which are expected in early November, to determine whether these positive trends are continuing. (Note: this article was written the last week of October, before year-end results were available.) USPS Service Performance The Postal Service has spent much of the second half of the year in the headlines due to the combination of ill-timed operational changes causing a sharp reduction in service performance in early July, and a large escalation in vote-by-mail activity driven by the pandemic. The operational changes were focused on reducing the number of late or extra trips transporting mail among

USPS facilities and reducing overtime. While well-intentioned to reduce costs, they were poorly implemented without enough focus on the impact the changes might have on service performance. The media attention also brought focus on the fact that the Postal Service continues to retire outdated sorting equipment and align placement of collection boxes with volume and usage. These trends are not new. They are ongoing USPS initiatives to reduce costs, and removal of unneeded sorting equipment from plants adds space to manage the influx of parcels we’ve seen this year. The dip in service performance was addressed and has largely rebounded, although service is not fully back to the levels seen in 2019. Mail tracking data regularly show that delivery times for both First-Class and Marketing Mail have been consistent across 2019 and 2020, with most mail being delivered within a day of its service standard. The dedicated USPS workforce continues to deliver across the country in the face of sometimes-daunting circumstances. While COVID-19 hotspots may drive temporary delays in specific areas, these instances — while they make

the headlines — are the exceptions, not the rule. Postal Reform Legislation If there is any silver lining coming out of the pandemic, it may be that it has underscored the importance of the Postal Service to the American people and economy. The focus Congress has placed on the Postal Service over vote-by-mail concerns may signal a renewed willingness to address long-standing structural issues about how it is funded and its overall business model. A lot will depend on the election, but no matter how the parties are aligned in Congress and the White House, we seem to be at an inflection point when legislation putting the Postal Service on a more stable financial path looks more possible than it has in a long while. The mailing industry has met the challenges of 2020. We know mail continues to drive success in marketing and supports other business communications needs. We’re ready to help the Postal Service thrive in 2021.  Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications, IWCO Direct.

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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By Keith Woedy

IMPROVING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE THROUGH THE MAIL

D

espite the widespread use of email, SMS text, and other electronic communications, printed direct mail remains in demand for both marketing and transactional communications. Although printed materials are more expensive to produce and mail, analysts and trade associations agree that printed mail generates a higher response rate versus electronic correspondence — and this is true for marketing materials as well as for transactional items, like invoices and statements, which consumers are almost sure to open and read. Precisely because electronic communications are much faster and more affordable to deliver, consumers nowadays receive a lot more of it, regard most of it as “spam,” and they often simply hit the delete key without even opening the email. Recipients are more tolerant of printed “junk mail” for several reasons: it can be set aside and read at a later time; it’s often more personalized and targeted than electronic communications; and it can include carefully designed text and graphics that create a stronger emotional appeal. A high level of personalization greatly improves a customer’s experience, which has proven to help win and retain customers. For marketing, the most effective strategy is combining both electronic and print communications, often using direct mail to initially engage customers or prospective customers, then following up with email notifications or SMS texts. Improving the Document Today, transactional documents are almost always personalized and contain data and information that relates directly to the recipient, no matter if they’re print or electronic documents. Transactional documents go out to thousands or even millions of people, usually on strict delivery deadlines and though these are,

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NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020 | MailingSystemsTechnology.com

technically, personalized documents, their messaging can be targeted for marketing or promotional purposes. Prior to their use as transpromotional (transpromo) communications, these types of documents rarely offered anything more than black-and-white text with a company logo. Adding more targeted messaging initially required a good deal of manual programming that had to be done before the documents moved into actual production. Post-composition tools — also called “middleware” — simplified operations, making it possible to make changes to documents and/or alter the data stream between origination and production. Post-composition solutions provide a bridge across all applications by converting all the input data streams into a consistent page format regardless of input file type. Mailing services professionals can thus engage a single application that will work with the various data streams they manage. Data stream independence is important when enhancements involve many different applications across the enterprise or for print service providers (PSPs) who receive data from different clients in a variety of formats. As post-composition solutions have evolved, functionality and ease-of-use have improved. The introduction of graphical user interfaces (GUI) has made it easier to perform the most complex types of document changes with limited use of scripting. Using a GUI, you view the document, select the specific areas of a document you want to work with, and then apply modifications that are independent of the original data stream. Because these tools are object oriented, you can easily access and define the elements you need, such as page number, address, barcode, account number, etc. You can also create a variety of new conditions, such as: colorizing documents, adding marketing messages, adding charts and graphics, repositioning data or the address book, and/or adding


intelligent mail barcodes (IMb). These post-composition solutions then let you transform the enhanced documents into any common output format, such as PDF or HTML5, for either print or electronic communications, regardless of the initial data stream format. Production and Delivery Improvements While print mail production and delivery will always cost more than electronic alternatives, post-composition tools can help control costs in important ways. For example, low-volume or short-run jobs cause printers to start and stop, reducing the throughput on mail inserters and complicating the mail piece tracking process, but post-composition tools allow you to concatenate this type of work by grouping multiple jobs into a single stream for greater processing efficiency. Banner pages of existing jobs can be kept or eliminated, and a new banner page for the entire set can be created. Integrity marks and intelligent insertion files can be generated and added to the set as well. By splitting large jobs, you can better balance the workload between printers and inserters and maximize overall production throughput. Post-composition tools let you split jobs using a variety of criteria. Print jobs can be segmented by the number of pages, the number of documents or any combination of parameters. The system will make sure the inserter marks and integrity barcodes are properly generated for each output run regardless of the sort scheme. Many companies still print high-volume applications in simplex printing. However, making a move to duplex printing will lower page counts, cut paper and envelope costs, shorten print and insertion run times, and result in dramatic postage savings. The ability to convert simplex documents to duplex without the need to re-program the original application achieves significant cost savings within an organization. Marketers can add digital inserts/ onserts and messaging and pages can be re-numbered — all with the insertion control marks updated automatically. Additionally, companies can further automate mail processing via householding, which allows different documents intended for the same household to be delivered in a common envelope. Electronic commingling is yet another time- and cost-saving opportunity. Job merging — often used in combination with USPS’s Presort Accuracy, Validation, and Evaluation (PAVE) program — greatly enhances efficiency by combining once disparate production jobs together. Rather than individual print and mail runs, jobs from different applications and customers can be merged and sorted to facilitate the best and most efficient processes. Everything Old Is New Again While transpromo is no longer a new concept, it’s always been an effective way of reaching out to customers individually. Post-composition tools make it possible to add a high degree of personalization to every communication, in order to support moving from customer communication management to more sophisticated strategies for customer experience management. Post-composition tools also increase operating efficiencies and help your company take advantage of lower-cost mailing and delivery options, provide significant improvements for your customer communications, and elevate the customer experience as a result.  Keith Woedy is Vice President of Research & Practice Lead at Madison Advisors, which specializes in offering Fortune 1000 companies context-specific guidance for a range of content delivery strategies, particularly those addressing enterprise output technologies and print and electronic customer communications. Connect with Madison Advisors at www.madison-advisors.com, on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/madison-advisors or on Twitter @madison_advisor. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall, international-focused issue of our sister publication, PARCEL. However, we wanted to be sure to share it with our Mailing Systems Technology readers as well, since we know this information affects many of you.

2021 INTERNATIONAL MAIL CHANGES LEAD TO UNCERTAINTY

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By Merry Law

ith higher international postage prices in January 2021, particularly for small packages; potential new requirements for Advanced Electronic Data (AED) and to the USPS Shipping Services File (SSF); and changes to customs duties and to foreign taxes on sales, international mailers are facing many changes in a short timeframe. These issues, plus the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created uncertainty and concerns among international mailers. Terminal dues, the rates countries pay each other for international mail, will again increase across all types of letter mail in January. Under UPU definitions, letter mail includes all items weighing less than two kilograms (4.4 pounds). Within letter mail,

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the UPU defines three formats — P, G, and E — by size and weight. Format P for petit (small) is basically postcards and regular sized letters. Format G for grand (large) covers larger sized letters and flats. Small packages and all items containing goods are format E for encombrant (cumbersome). Terminal dues are expressed as X SDR per kilogram plus Y SDR per item. SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) are used by UN agencies to calculate charges or credits between countries. Effective July 2020, 31 countries self-declared rates, and an additional 13 did so for January 2021. Of those on both lists, eight reduced their July rates, 19 increased their rates, and one remained about the same. The remaining three countries made changes between the per kilogram and per item rates. The US rate for inbound packages as of July 1 was 2.088 SDR per item plus 2.878 SDR per kilogram ($2.948/ item + $1.843/pound). In January, the US inbound rate will be 2.332 SDR per item plus 3.038 SDR per kilogram


($3.292/item + $1.946/pound). The US also negotiates bilateral agreements—agreements between two countries—one rates and other postal matters, like tracking. These agreements are normally not put in place until the UPU publicly announces the rates filed with them. Many of the countries with higher inbound and outbound mail volumes to the US have reached agreements, which are not publicly available. The recently announced January 2021 postal rates are based on terminal dues or bilateral agreements. The USPS continues to pursue bilateral agreements with additional countries. We are seeing greater increases in both inbound and outbound postage for packages than for other items. The increase in US inbound rates for small packages in July 2020 resulted in very substantial (up to 100%) increases in postage from some countries. (The effect of these prices aren’t known because they can’t be separated from the effect of the pandemic.) In July, the USPS did not

increase its outbound published postage rates for packages. USPS did substantially increase the postage for packages paid by international mail consolidators under their contracts with USPS. This, in effect, reduced the consolidators’ workshare discounts. During the negotiations in September 2019, the US agreed to pay the UPU CHF 8 million ($8.767 million) a year for five years in exchange for the ability to impose self-declared rates in July 2020. These payments were to be more than covered by the increased income from international packages. No one could have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries limited or stopped the exchange of international mail. International air transport was greatly effected by border closures and by shut-downs. The former led to depressed revenues and the latter led to much higher costs for shipping mail to other countries. China, a major importer into the US by mail, has seen higher costs for their mail to the US. This was an intentional effect of the self-declared rates. (China did not self-declare small package rates.) There is now competition among US inbound mail processing firms to transport goods from Chinese companies bound to US destinations and process them for mailing here at pre-sort domestic rates. The same process may be used by companies in other countries fulfilling US-destination orders. The anticipated customs and tax changes will be difficult for exporters, particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and occasional international mailers of goods. All the countries in the European Union (EU) are instituting a new protocol for AED beginning on March 15, 2021. Some items on customs forms and in the Shipping Services File (SSF) transmitted to USPS by mailers of goods now listed as conditional — not required by USPS, but possibly required by the destination county — may be required early in 2021 by USPS. These items include phone numbers for the sender and recipient, license and tax ID numbers, and the HS tariff number. The most problematic of these for many mailers and mail processors is the HS tariff number or code. This is the

Harmonized Tariff Schedule code number describing items in a shipment, already mandatory for commercial shipping but not postal items. The codes can be looked up in the online US Harmonized Tariff Schedule https://hts.usitc.gov/current at no cost. For example, my company, WorldVu LLC, mails books to fulfill orders. The HS code for most books is 4901.99. Mail service providers and mailers need to be aware that this will be required in the near future, probably in early 2021. The EU and individual countries in the EU and elsewhere have announced changes to customs duties and to other taxes on goods coming into the country. Many customs changes reduce the minimum value of goods that are allowed into the country without payment of duty, called the de minimus. Goods can be imported as delivered duty paid (DDP) or delivered duty unpaid (DDU). In almost all cases, postal items are DDU and the recipient is required to pay the customs duty. Value Added Tax (VAT) and Good and Services Tax (GST), types of taxes on sales, are being levied more frequently on imported items. These vary from country to country and territory to territory. With more than 200 countries and territories, it is extremely difficult for mailers, particularly SMEs, to track tax requirements unless the country or territory makes it known internationally. The extension period for a trade agreement on Brexit, the British withdrawal from the EU, will end at the end of 2020. Without an agreement between the EU and the UK, delays and confusion are expected in supply chains, logistics, and customs processing at all entry points to the EU and the UK. As this is being written, an agreement seems unlikely. All of these changes are planned between January 1 and March 15 of 2021, creating uncertainty for international mailers. 

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 US International Postal and Delivery Services Federal Advisory Committee. MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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AN INDUSTRY INSIDER’S HIDDEN TRICKS TO SAVE MONEY ON MAIL By Adam Lewenberg

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here are three major influences increasing mailing costs that every organization faces: 1. Postage and shipping rates keep rising; the USPS had two increases in 2020 and will have another this January 2021. 2. COVID-19 has hurt the economy and made it harder to staff based on remote workers. 3. There is less expertise in mail services as people retire or move out of this space. l of these create a need to find better ways to optimize processes to reduce costs and find savings. All of these create a need to find better ways to optimize processes to reduce costs and find savings. I have been in this industry for 27 years and worked with over 20,000 clients of all sizes, volumes, and applications. As an industry insider, my goal is to bring to you the best ideas that can reduce costs and streamline your mailing application. Below are five core areas that can save you the most money in 2021 and help make your operations more efficient. Compare USPS Rates to the Private Carriers There is no one best way to ship because it depends on many factors, such as distance, weight, box size, speed of delivery, and the parameters of destination address (such as if it is residential or rural).

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Best-in-class organizations know that this calculation is too complex for their staff to make and will have multi-carrier tools that can compare rates on a transaction by transaction basis to optimize speed and costs. As you can see from Figure 1, these are the main areas that can save the most money through rate shopping using these automated tools. USPS may be able to provide faster delivery (to specific zones) at lower costs for lightweight items (less than 10 pounds) and should be shopped regardless of your private carrier discount. Here are the main reasons why:  The private carriers typically have a base rate (Minimum Service Charge) that they do not go below regardless of your negotiated discount. When you take this rate, plus the additional fees for residential, delivery area surcharge, fuel surcharge, address corrections and Saturday delivery, USPS may be a bargain.  The USPS has amazing rates on lightweight packages less than 16 ounces ($2.99-5.95 vs. most private carriers that start over $8.00). No one can typically come close to these rates, which is why the main e-tailers will typically send these lightweight items through the Postal Service.  When comparing Ground and three-day service to USPS Priority Mail, many areas will get faster delivery at lower costs.

Private carrier Ground services have guaranteed next-day delivery in Zone 2 that extends about 250 miles from where the package originated. This can reduce costs over their air rivals and provide faster delivery than two- and three-day services as well as some USPS Priority Mail items. It can also offer the same delivery times as two- and three-day services for Zones 3 and 4 packages but at lower costs. Manage Your Box and Envelope Sizing One of the biggest savings areas is to optimize the container size for your chosen item. This can have a great impact on cost with the following examples: Private carriers have envelope rates for one-, two-, and three-day services that are less than the corresponding one-pound rate as you can see from the chart in Figure 1. Many people will not pay attention to this, and either choose the wrong packaging or enter the item in the shipping platform without selecting the container type. USPS has Flat Rate envelopes and boxes that are less expensive than all but the local zones and allow you to put as much weight as you can fit for one low price. All carriers, including the USPS, use dimensional rating for items bigger than


Figure 2

a 6x6” cube, meaning that your weight may be determined by the box size vs. the actual weight. This makes it crucial to use the smallest boxes that can meet the contents’ requirements. When you look at the chart in Figure 1, two of the biggest savings areas are Ground and USPS First Class Package, both of which do not provide any boxes or envelopes. We recommend sourcing a cardboard “express like” envelope that allows you to use these services for documents to eliminate sending through air services. These envelopes should be purchased in bulk and distributed throughout your locations to encourage use of these services due to their significant savings. Folding Your Flats If you are sending out lightweight items in flat-sized envelopes (9X12 or 10X13) you may be able to save by folding them in half into 6 x 9.5” envelopes or in thirds into #10s. The savings is significant in four ways (see Figure 2). The postage savings is huge because you are changing from a Flat to a Letter category. The envelope costs are much less expensive. The envelopes are lighter. If you barcode your mail or use a presort service, up to 3.5 ounces goes at the one-ounce rate!

Use Presort Services If you are a huge volume mailer and have everything going through large jobs that can be programed to print through an automated software utility that can validate the addresses, sort into the desired order, print with postal barcodes and can transport to the USPS, then you are the exception. For everyone else, consider using a presort service to get postal discounts. Presort services will pick up your mail daily, weekly, or as needed, and commingle it with other clients on their sorting systems to get you lower postage rates. They will make sure your mail meets all postal regulations and there should be no work involved except scheduling the pickups. These services will save you two to 58% based on your volumes, densities, weights, and types of mail submitted. Best of all, they will pick up your mail and submit it to the USPS. The typical requirements are that you have 500 pieces per day or single piece mailings of 1000 or greater. Remote Printing It is not efficient for small locations or home office users to print larger

mail jobs because they will not have the proper equipment, supplies, and staffing to get them out the door effectively. Organizations will need to be able to send mailing projects to areas with the proper infrastructure. There have been tremendous developments in the technology to do this efficiently and at lower costs. There are two main ways this can be done: Onsite Production Facilities – There is software in place that can create a virtual print driver on the desktop where the job can be created. It can then be sent to a location inside your organization that has the staff, equipment, and support to get the pieces out in a more efficient and lower cost method. This eliminates the need to have mailing equipment scattered throughout your locations when there can be trained staff and higher-level automated solutions in a central location more suited to process this mail. Sent to a Professional Mail Service Provider – Using a similar virtual print driver, the same job could be sent to a third-party company that specializes in Figure 1

MailingSystemsTechnology.com | NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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Figure 3

this type of work. They will have the infrastructure in place to process your mailings quickly and at the lowest postage costs. Regardless of which model is chosen, there are significant benefits in having mail produced in a central environment. Postage Discounts – As you can see in Figure 3, moving mail from single piece rates to automation with barcodes provides huge savings. Flexibility with Output – Using the newest tools provides the flexibility on how the item is sent. This can include paper or electronic client delivery as an email, fax, or text.

Mail moves faster from centrally automated processes. Mail tracking capabilities. Documents are archived for retrieval in a central repository. Conclusion The five areas above are the main ways that you can reduce your mailing and shipping costs, and they are not just my opinion but have been implemented in the most efficient mail centers across the United States. On top of savings, when the right tools are put in place, these processes all save labor, get items out the door faster, and provide

Publisher’s Note: The U.S. Postal Service requires the following statement be published for Mailing Systems Technology (Periodicals Class) mailings only. Mailing Systems Technology has had a (Periodicals Class) permit since January 1989. U.S. Postal Service STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685 1. Publication Title ................................................................Mailing Systems Technology 2. Publication No. .................................................................1088-2677 3. Filing Date ........................................................................September 18, 2020 4. Issue Frequency .................................................................Jan-Feb, Mar-Apr, May-June, Jul-Aug, Sept-Oct, Nov-Dec 5. No. Of Issues Published Annually .....................................6 6. Annual Subscription Price (if any) .....................................Free 7. Complete Mailing Address of Known Office of Publication (Street, City, County, State and ZIP + 4)(Not Printer) PO Box 259098, Madison, Dane County, WI 53725-9098 Contact Person ............................................................ Rachel Chapman, (608)446-6200 8. Complete Mailing Address of the Headquarters of General Business Offices of the Publisher (Not Printer) ........... MadMen3, P.O. Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 9. Full Names and Complete Mailing Address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor (Do not leave blank) Publisher (Name and Complete Mailing Address) .............Ken Waddell, MadMen3, P.O. Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address) ..................Amanda Armendariz, MadMen3, P.O. Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 Managing Editor (Name and Complete Mailing Address).......... Amanda Armendariz, MadMen3, P.O. Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098 10. Owner (If the publication is owned by a corporation, give the name and address of the corporation immediately followed by the names and addresses of all stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of the total amount of stock. If not owned by a corporation, give the names and addresses of the individual owners. If owned by a partnership, or other unincorporated firm, give its name and address as well as those of each individual owner. If the publication is published by a nonprofit organization, give its name and address). (Do Not Leave Blank). Full Name .............................................................. Complete Mailing Address Chad Griepentrog ....................................................P.O. Box 259098, Madison, WI 53725-9098 Josh Vogt ................................................................ P.O. Box 259098, Madison, WI 53725-9098 Ken Waddell .......................................................... P.O. Box 259098, Madison, WI 53725-9098 11. Known Bondholders, Mortgages and other Security Holders Owning or Holding one Percent or more of Total Amount of Bonds, Mortgages or Other Securities None 12. (Must be completed if the publication title shown in item 1 is a publication published and owned by a non-profit organization). For completion by nonprofit organizations authorized to mail at special rates. The purpose, function and nonprofit status of this organization and the exempt status for federal income tax purposes has not changed during preceding 12 months.

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better visibility and tracking. It is nice to know that even with all the outside influences facing every mailer, there are ways to fight against them to maximize savings.  Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recovery firm in the United States and Canada. They manage the biggest mail equipment fleet in the world and their mission is to help organizations with multi-locations reduce mail and parcel related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Since 2011, they have helped their clients save an average of 59% and over $61 million on equipment, presort, avoidable fees, and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam.lewenberg@postaladvocate.com.

13. Publication........................................................................................Mailing Systems Technology 14. Issue Date for Circulation Data ............................................ July-August 2020 15. Extent and Nature of Circulation ......................................... B2B - Controlled a. Total No. Copies (Net Press Run).........................18,718 .......................... 17,015 b. Legitimate Paid and/or Requested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail)

1. Paid Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541.

(Include advertiser’s proof and exchange copies) .....17,438 ........................... 15,372 2. Paid Requested In-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541. ..................... 0 .....................................0 3. Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and Other Non-USPS Paid Distribution .............. 0 .....................................0 4. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............. 0 .....................................0 c. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation [Sum of 15b (1,2,3 and 4)] ..................................17,438 ........................... 15,372 d. Nonrequested Distribution (By Mail and Outside the Mail) 1. Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541 ..........1,028 ............................. 1,599 2. In-County as Stated on Form 3541 ...................... 0 .....................................0 3. Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS ............ 27 ...................................29 4. Nonrequested Copies Distributed Outside the Mail ............................. 205 ...................................5 e. Total Nonrequested Distribution ..............................1,260 ............................. 1,633 f. Total Distribution (Sum of 15c and 15e) .............18,698 ........................... 17,005 g. Copies not Distributed (See instructions to Publishers #4 (page #3) ............................................................................ 20 ...................................10 h. Total (Sum of 15f and g) ......................................18,718 ........................... 17,015 i. Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation (15c/fx100) .......................................................... 93.3%............................ 90.4% 16. Electronic Copy Circulation ..............................................................................Yes a. Requested and Paid Electronic Copies ..................... 2,299 .......................... 2,239 b.Total Requested and paid Print Copies (Line 15c) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) .... .................... 19,737 ................................ 17,611 c.Total Requested Copy Distribution (Line 15f) + Requested/Paid Electronic Copies (Line 16a) ......................... 20,997 ................................ 19,244 d.Percent paid and/or Requested Circulation (Both Print & Electronic Copies) (16b divided by 16c x 100) ..........................................94.0% ........................ 91.5% 17. Publication of Statement of Ownership for a Requester Publication is required and will be printed in the November-December 2020 issue of this publication. 18. Signature and Title of Editor, Publisher, Business Manager or Owner: Rachel Chapman, Audience Development Manager, / September 18, 2020 I certify that all information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or civil sanctions (including civil penalties). PS Form 3526-R, July 2014


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