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MAXIMIZING THE VALUE of your mail center… it’s easier than you think! Page 22

INSIDER TIPS TO BUYING AN incoming tracking system. Page 28

THINKING ABOUT JOINING AN ASSOCIATION? Here’s why you should. Page 24

THE INS AND OUTS

of Presort Reference Data. Page 8

“WHAT TO SEE AT GRAPH EXPO” PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS! Page 18


YOUR ROAD to Innovative Delivery and Profits • Engaging Unique New Cross-Media Applications and

September 28 - October 1, 2014 McCormick Place | Chicago, IL USA www.GraphExpo.com

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Volume 27 Issue 6

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014

Features 22

How to Maximize the Value of Mail through Best Practices By Gordon Glazer

24

22

Member Value in Associations By James Mullan

26

The State of Our Industry Change creates opportunity By Debbie Pfeiffer

28

How to Buy an Incoming Tracking System Tips from an industry insider By Adam Lewenberg

24

Departments/Columns 5

Editor’s Note

12

6

28

Real-Life Management

14

Software Byte

16

10

Postal Affairs

Application Articles

Invoices Are Coming – Are You Ready? By Kim Mauch

17

Direct Marketing 101 Got Mail? How to Boost Your Mailing Revenue By John Foley, Jr.

4

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Speed. Flexibility. Customization. Why You Should Migrate

Everything IMb Reminders for Postal Savings in Addition to IMb By Harry Stephens

11

Ship It Mobile Returns – No Longer An Option By Jim LeRose

Presort Reference Data: What Is It, and How Is It Used? By Bill Jamieson

9

My Two Cents The New DMM, a Book of Suggestions By Todd Butler

Treating Your Employees Like Valued Family Members By Wes Friesen

8

The Trenches Quick & Dirty By Mike Porter

Mail: Still Relevant By Amanda Armendariz

to Digital Print

21

Cleaner Lists. Higher Response. More Savings.


editor’s note

with Amanda Armendariz

Mailing systems technology PUBLISHER Marll Thiede

EDITOR

Mail: Still Relevant When my family was at the beach this summer, I noticed something interesting. A fellow beachgoer had a large tattoo on his bicep. What was unusual (at least to me) was that it was the United States Postal Service logo, in full color. A rather odd choice for a tattoo, I thought. What was even more unusual was the fact that I could have understood if the tattoo graced the arm of an older, retired man; perhaps someone who had spent his entire career moving up the ranks of the USPS and wanted a tattoo to commemorate the end of his career. But this tattoo belonged to a man not much older than me; I’d be surprised if he had even hit 40. “Hmmm,” I thought. “I guess mail really is relevant to people of all ages.” I don’t know why that thought popped into my head; that mail is still relevant to all age groups comes as no surprise, of course (although most people don’t have tattoos stating this fact!) In fact, many of the younger generation, who have grown up with spam as a daily occurrence in their email inboxes, see physical mail as more trustworthy and pay attention accordingly. So to all those “mail is dead” naysayers, I say, “ha!” They clearly haven’t been paying attention. Sure, First Class volumes have been declining, and I doubt they’ll ever return to their former glory, but mail is still a valuable way to communicate with customers. So in this issue, we cover just about everything related to mail; from maximizing the efficiency of your mail center, to buying an incoming tracking system, to the state of our industry, and more. After all, in order to stay abreast of this up-and-down journey that is mail, you need all the resources you can muster. And that’s what we’re here for. As always, thanks for reading Mailing Systems Technology.

Amanda Armendariz amanda.c@rbpub.com

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Todd Butler, John Foley, Jr., Wes Friesen, Gordon Glazer, Bill Jamieson, Adam Lewenberg, Jim LeRose, Kim Mauch, Jim Mullan, Debbie Pfeiffer, Mike Porter, Harry Stephens

Audience Development Manager Rachel Spahr rachel@rbpub.com

ADVERTISING 608-442-5064 Ken Waddell ken.w@rbpub.com

GRAPHIC DESIGN Kelli Cooke

2901 International Lane • Madison WI 53704-3128 608-241-8777 • Fax 608-241-8666 rbpub@rbpub.com www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com

Volume 27, Issue 6 Subscriptions are free to qualified recipients: $20 per year to all others in the United States. Subscription rate for Canada or Mexico is $40 per year, and for elsewhere outside of the United States is $45. Back issue rate is $5. Send subscriptions to: Mailing Systems Technology, PO Box 259098, Madison WI 53725-9098; or call 608-241-8777; fax 608-241-8666; e-mail rachel@rbpub.com or subscribe online at www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com. For high-quality reprints, please contact our exclusive reprint provider, ReprintPros, 949-702-5390, www.ReprintPros.com. All material in this magazine is copyrighted ©2014 by RB Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Any correspondence sent to Mailing Systems Technology, RB Publishing Inc. or its staff becomes property of RB Publishing Inc. The articles in this magazine represent the views of the authors and not those of RB Publishing Inc. or Mailing Systems Technology. RB Publishing Inc. and/or Mailing Systems Technology expressly disclaim any liability for the products or services sold or otherwise endorsed by advertisers or authors included in this magazine. Mailing Systems Technology (ISSN 1088-2677) [Volume 27, Issue 6] is published six times per year, (January/February, March Buyers’ Resource, March/April, May/June, September/ October, November/December) by RB Publishing Inc., 2901 International Lane, Suite 100, Madison WI 53704-3128, 608241-8777. Periodical postage paid at Madison WI and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Mailing Systems Technology PO Box 259098 Madison WI 53725-9098


Real Life Management Treating Your Employees Like Valued Family Members “Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company (or team) is responsible for their precious lives.” Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t In my last column in the July/August digital-only edition, I dealt with the importance of treating our employees like adults, not children (if you missed the column go to MailingSystemsTechnology.com under Digital Magazine or my personal website (www.wesfriesen.com under Articles). I want to go beyond the last column and talk about the importance of treating our employees like valued sons and daughters (i.e. family members). I have been inspired to explore this concept after interacting with my good friend Mark Fallon, who is the CEO of The Berkshire Company (Berkshire-Company.com), and reading the book he recommended called Leaders Eat Last. Mark and I had the privilege of being featured speakers at the recent NACUMS annual conference (nacums.org). In one of my presentations I discussed the concept of treating employees like adults, and in one of Mark’s he discussed the idea of treating employees like valued sons and daughters. As we discussed afterwards we realized these two concepts go hand-in-hand. Let me share the importance and value of treating employees like valued family members and then share some ideas on the “how.”

Why Is It Important to Treat Employees Like Valued Family Members? When employees are not treated like trusted and valued members of a family, a number of negative consequences follow. The Deloitte Shift Index found that 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. A recent Gallup poll showed only 30% are actively engaged on the job. There is an obvious correlation between job satisfaction and job engagement. In addition, the landmark Whitehall studies showed that job stress was largely driven by the degree of control workers feel that have throughout their day. In a nutshell – less control, more stress. More job stress leads to higher levels of physical and mental illness. And studies show that a child’s sense of well being is affected primarily not by the hours that their parents put in at work but the moods they are in when they arrive at home. By not adequately caring for our employees we are harming them — and their children! In contrast, the organizations that do treat their employees like valued family members develop a culture of empathy and mutual trust. A sense of family is developed where employees feel like 6

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they belong and feel valued and cared for. This caring environment allows people to fully engage their heads and their hearts. The good news is that there are organizations that set good examples for us in treating employees like valued family members — such as Costco, Southwest Airlines, Nordstroms, Bob’s Red Mill, BarryWehmiller and many others. Treating employees like valued family members leads to higher levels of employee engagement. What is the impact on the organization’s performance? Gallup research showed that work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed the bottom quartile units by:

10% in Customer Ratings 22% in Profitability 21% in Productivity 25% lower turnover 37% less absenteeism 48% fewer safety incidents 41% less quality defects How Do We Treat Employees Like Valued Family Members? Following are eight guidelines that can help us treat our employees like valued family members (by the way – these are also great parenting tips for raising our kids!).

1. Avoid dehumanization — treat like people. The employees that work on our teams are people — not numbers on a spreadsheet or machines that make widgets! As people they are created body, soul and spirit and have many roles, relationships and responsibilities — some involving their occupation and many more non-work related. One of the most respected CEOs within the communication industry understood this concept well. Anne Mulcahy was the CEO who positively led Xerox from a place of weakness to a place of strength. Her following quote reveals a key to her successful philosophy: “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more ful-


With Wes Friesen

filled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

2. Treat with respect. Every person that works on our teams craves to be treated with respect — and deserves respect. I resonate with Albert Einstein when he said, “Everyone should be respected as an individual” and also when he said “I speak to everyone the same, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.” One of the most practical ways to show respect to our employees is to listen as this Bryant McGill quote emphasizes: “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Listening to and respecting our employees leads to people naturally working together to help each other and to advance the organization. Working with a sense of obligation is replaced with working with a sense of pride and teamwork.

3. Provide protection. One of the roles of parents is to help protect our children from the dangers lurking inside and outside the home. Likewise, a caring leader will do what she can to protect her employees from the dangers lurking in the work place — such as unnecessary micro-management, unreasonable job requirements or negative work conditions. A caring leader will also try and provide protection from external dangers — such as over reaction to adverse economic conditions or unfair outsourcing attempts.

4. Clarify expectations and provide guidance. People need to know what the rules are — and what results are expected. We all need clarity on expectations — and need feedback when we are on course and when we are heading in the wrong direction.

5. Balance care and accountability. Just like we care for our real life family members, we should showing caring towards our employees. Showing consistent caring will help develop the family environment we should crave. At the same time, just as we hold our real life family members accountable for following our rules, values and goals — we need to do the same with our employees. When the caring is present, the accountability will be well received and help us maximize performance.

common practice. A Gallup poll of thousands of employees found that 65% claimed to have received no praise or recognition the past year!

7. Be flexible and willing to adjust your style. I have two daughters. They have the same parents and grew up in the same home — yet that have a significant number of personality, behavior and style differences. Our employees also have differences — and we should try and communicate and connect in ways that best suits their individual differences and preferences.

8) Focus on “positive leading” over “controlling managing.” Bob Chapman is the CEO of Barry-Wehmiller who led the company in a remarkably positive turnaround. His main strategy was to treat employees like valued family members and develop a culture of empathy, caring and trust. The following quote of his really resonates with most people: “No one wakes up in the morning to go to work with the hope that someone will manage us. We wake up with the hope that someone will lead us!” Treating employees like valued family members is a great example of the “win-win” that Stephen Covey always emphasized. Employees that are treated like valued family members will have better morale, stronger motivation, higher productivity and will be more loyal to the organization. Our teams will be stronger and our personal sense of accomplishment will be higher. I wish you success in striving for the worthy ideal of treating your employees like valued family members! ¾ Wes Friesen, MBA, CMDSM, MDC, EMCM, MCOM, CBA, CBF, ICP, CCM,CMA, CM, CFM, APP, PHR is the Manager of Billing, Credit and Special Attention Operations for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon that serves over 830,000 customers. Wes leads his teams with the able assistance of Supervisors Allison Rowden, Jan DeMeire, Heidi Fouts and Matt McHill. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national Conferences like MAILCOM, National Postal Forum, NACUMS, and other regional and local events. Check out his personal wesite for free information (www.wesfriesen.com). He can be contacted at pchefdebi@comcast.net.

6. Reinforce and reward positive behaviors and results. Research has led to the development of what some have called the “Greatest Management Principle in the World” — you get what you reward. Sincere, regular and positive recognition and rewarding of desired behaviors is common sense — but not

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7


Software Byte

With Bill Jamieson

Presort Reference Data: What Is It, and How Is It Used? There are over 152 million delivery locations in the United States requiring a combined effort from the USPS and the postal industry supply chain to ensure an efficient and cost effective delivery. The term Presort Reference Data defines the set of files used by software to communicate the various USPS Drop Ship locations and mailpiece groupings required for this work-sharing. The accuracy and timeliness of this data is critically important to the effectiveness of USPS mail delivery process. There are five sets of presort reference data that include over 30 files. These files define how, where, and when USPS mail can be sorted to receive the desired work-share discount. The presort reference data includes: } Labeling Lists - a set of files that define the current 3- and 5-digit ZIP Code schemes needed to correctly sort and label mail into bundles, trays, and containers. } Drop Ship Product - defines the default drop sites (DDU, SCF, ADC, NDC, and FSS) and any redirections that the USPS may have imposed. (A redirect helps the USPS optimize its network by redirecting mail from one destination to another) } Zone Chart Matrix - helps identify the zone of a mailpiece. The zone is based on the distance from the facility the mailpiece entered the mail stream, to where the mailpiece will eventually be delivered } Delivery Statistics File - defines the number of Post Office boxes and business/residential deliveries on city, rural, and highway contract routes for every ZIP Code in the United States. } City State Product - a comprehensive list of ZIP Codes with corresponding city and county names. So how does your software use the presort reference data to ensure mail is processed efficiently and at the lowest combined cost? The steps below show one example of how software uses this data to prepare letters in a walk sequence order, at the standard mail rate, and dropped at a Sectional Center Facility (SCF). Step 1 – Presort instructions - The software receives a list of addresses, let’s assume these have already been passed through an address quality process (CASS, Merge/Purge, Suppression, NCOALink, and DSF2 walk sequence). A set of instructions from the user defines how the list of address records should be sorted. These instructions include piece level detail and sort level information including weight, thickness, mail class, piece type, destination drops, mailing date, etc. 8

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Step 2 – Validation phase – The software makes sure the presort reference data is valid at the time of mail induction using the mailing date assigned in step 1. A warning or error is issued by the software if the data will be out of date. Step 3 – Sort phase – The address list is passed through a sort routine that utilizes the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) to determine which presort reference data files are used for sorting. In this example, the software uses the City State Product file to help assign address pieces to carrier route trays and 5-digit carrier route trays. The L002 Labeling List file is used to assign residual pieces to 3-Digit carrier route trays. The software then determines if there are enough pieces in these trays to qualify for the SCF discount. It also looks at the Drop Ship product file to determine if these containers can be dropped at the SCF. The Mail Direction file (part of the Drop Ship product file) is then used to identify any redirects that the USPS has listed for each destination. It is then determined if any of the redirections apply to any pallets that were created. Finally, the ZIP Code and Carrier Route information is validated against the Delivery Statistics File for each record in the list. This is used to determine the level of saturation that can be claimed (Saturation, High Density, or High Density Plus). Step 4 – Report phase - The Delivery Statistics File is used to calculate the total delivery points, active delivery points, and total residential for the ZIP Code/Carrier Route combination. This information is included on the USPS Qualification Report. The software creates a Mail.dat file and a postage statement using the calculations created during the sort phase. If this had been a Periodicals, Bound Printed Matter, or Priority Mail sort, the Zone Chart Matrix file would have been used to determine postage rate. Step 5 – Printing labels and preparing the mail – The mail can now be printed in sort order and placed in trays and pallets for delivery to the SCF. The software reviews the City State Product file and Labeling List file to generate the destination line (destination city, state and ZIP) on the tray labels, facing slips, and container labels. Some software allows you to schedule an appointment using the critical entry times and drop ship hours for the SCF stored in the Drop Ship Product file. The postal industry is an ecosystem of supply chain partnerships that require presort reference data to effectively deliver the mail. The accuracy and timeliness of this data is critical to allow the USPS to lower costs and drive efficiencies through work-sharing. ¾ Bill Jamieson is Director, Product Strategy, BCC Software.


Postal Affairs

With Kim Mauch

Invoices Are Coming – Are You Ready? Starting as early as January 2015, mailers will be charged for mail preparation errors in a new way. We’ll get a first glimpse of this new process in early October, when invoice examples will be available. Currently, mailings are checked for presort, barcode and address quality errors before the mail is accepted into the USPS mail stream. Most mailers are familiar with MERLIN — the Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument. This machine tests a few trays out of the mailing, ensures that the mail is sorted correctly and passes the Move Update standard. Based on that sample, mailers are notified of errors, and can either correct the error or pay additional postage to get the mail accepted as-is.

What is changing? Mailings will continue to be accepted and tested as they are today. In addition to the MERLIN verifications, every piece will be checked against presort, mail entry and address quality standards as the mail is run on USPS equipment. Any issues found will be tallied for each mailer over the course of a month. Those results will be available to view on the Business Customer Gateway. At the end of the month, if the percentage of errors is over an established threshold, an invoice will be generated for the difference between the number of errors and the threshold.

What is being measured? Initially, only mail sent with Full-Service Intelligent Mail preparation will be subject to invoicing. All the mail prepared with a single eDoc Submitter CRID will be evaluated together against several error conditions. Full-Service mailings will be evaluated for barcode completeness and accuracy, along with ensuring the electronic documentation is filled out properly. Each verification will need to be within a threshold for error tolerance, or an invoice will be generated that will effectively remove the Full-Service discount for those pieces. The verifications for FullService are: } The Service Type ID (STID) in the IMb needs to be appropriate for the class of mail and services requested. 2% error tolerance. } The Mailer ID (MID) used in the IMb needs to be properly registered in the USPS database. 2% error tolerance. } All Intelligent Mail barcodes used in Full-Service mailings will need to be unique across all mailings using the same Mailer ID. 2% error tolerance. } The barcodes on trays, sacks and pallets need to be readable and not under plastic strapping. 2% error tolerance. } The By/For information (which includes the MID, Customer Registration ID and/or permit number for both the mail owner and mail preparer) needs to be correct and registered properly in the USPS database. 5% error tolerance.

} The Entry Facility used in electronic documentation (Mail.dat, Mail.XML or Postal Wizard) needs to be valid. 5% error tolerance. } For co-palletized mailings, an OCI file is required in Mail.dat. 5% error tolerance. USPS has proposed that they will validate Move Update compliance using a similar method. Rather than using a sample of the mail, all mail will be evaluated as it is processed on sorting equipment. USPS is proposing to invoice mailers for errors over 0.8%. Mailers using more advanced preparation techniques, such as eInduction or Seamless Acceptance, will have additional verifications. The exact details have not yet been published.

What is the invoicing process? Invoices will be created electronically, and sent to the Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) designated for your Business Customer Gateway account. Throughout each month, errors will be tallied for each electronic documentation (eDoc) submitter. Ten to eleven days after the end of the month, mailers who have errors over any of the threshold will get their invoice. Mailers will have only a few days to review the invoice, and dispute it if anything looks incorrect. Invoice payment can be pulled from any permit the eDoc submitter used over the previous month, or split across multiple permits. Mailers should monitor their Mailer Scorecard throughout each month to ensure they won’t exceed the error thresholds.

What is the timeline? Mailers will have their first look at their Full-Service quality on October 11. USPS will be validating the data throughout the month of September, and an example invoice will be generated the following month. This will continue until January 11, when the invoices will become active and will require payment. A first look at Move Update quality will be available on January 11, with active invoices starting as early as April 11, 2015. The first Seamless Acceptance verifications will likely match the Move Update schedule. Mailers should start looking at their Mailer Scorecard in PostalOne! as soon as possible. There will only be a few months to correct any errors before the penalties are live. Also, some accounts may have the wrong contact set up as the VAE. This is important to note because the VAE is responsible for reviewing, disputing and paying the invoices. Kim Mauch is a subject matter expert in mailing preparation and submission at Satori Software. Contact her at kmauch@satorisoftware.com. www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014

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Everything IMb

With Harry Stephens

Reminders for Postal Savings in Addition to IMb We have established that with Full Service IMb certification, your business will reap the greatest postal discounts available, as well as achieve enhanced accuracy, control and visibility of your mailings. However, if you have yet to get on board with IMb, there are still many ways to ensure you are saving as much as possible on postage. For those businesses that send out high volumes of business mail, the financial impact of postage can be significant, making it critical to explore and use every avenue possible to offset these costs. Here are some immediate actions every business can take while working toward Full Service -IMb certification: } Follow USPS pre-sort rules: Properly preparing and pre-sorting mail will earn significant USPS discounts. Leverage these discounts aggressively by making sure mail is segmented to reach the critical volumes per ZIP Code needed to qualify for the highest discount rates. To qualify for these rates you must print a delivery point barcode on each mailpiece and commingle the mail for concentrated volume to geographical areas. } Verify addresses: Nearly one-fourth of all mail that goes through the USPS contains some simple error such as misspelled street names and improper abbreviations, which can result in significant postage cost increases. If a mailpiece cannot be delivered (e.g., “undeliverable-as-addressed” or UAA), the cost to correct the piece is expensive. There are a number of tools offered by the USPS to help identify undeliverable addresses and link old addresses to new move addresses. Check them out at www.usps.com. } Then double-check those addresses: According to the USPS, there are 145 million confirmed mail delivery points in the United States today. “Cycle L” requires mailing lists to be run through DPV (Delivery Point Verification) processing. DPV compares your mailing list to the USPS’s own list of known addresses and verifying whether or not a CASS-certified Zip+4 address is one of these confirmed delivery points. For example, a Zip+4 Code might cover an area with addresses from 100 Main Street to 300 Main Street. Typically, addresses would run 100 Main Street, 102 Main Street, 104 Main Street, and so on. However, if 104 Main Street is an empty lot, this is not a valid delivery point and DPV would mark it “N” for “invalid” — and a First-Class rate applies. While DPV can’t correct an invalid address, having a process in place to identify and eliminate them will save. } Take advantage of “2-4-1”: As of January 22, 2012, the USPS ruled that when business mailers mail Presorted First-Class

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Mail pieces weighing between one and two ounces, the second ounce is free (“2-4-1”). This ruling gives companies the ability to fill their mailings with additional promotional messaging and other information relevant to the recipient. } Continue to explore electronic options: Electronic bill presentment is another way to sidestep the postal costs. Though reports by the USPS show that more than 70% of people still prefer to receive their statements through the mail, converting just 10 to 20% of existing customers to electronic bill receipt corresponds to a significant cost savings and is worth the effort.

For those businesses that send out high volumes of business mail, the financial impact of postage can be significant, making it critical to explore and use every avenue possible to offset these costs. As we prepare for IMb Over the last few years, the cost of postage has been rising gradually and this trend shows no sign of slowing. While you prepare for the inevitable mandate for Full Service IMb, keeping current with changing regulations and available technology will ensure you are taking advantage of savings that can go straight to the bottom line. ¾ Harry Stephens is President/CEO and founder of DATAMATX, one of the nation’s largest privately held, full-service providers of printed and electronic billing solutions. As an advocate for business mailers across the country, Stephens is actively involved in several postal trade associations. He serves on the Executive Board of the Greater Atlanta Postal Customer Council, Major Mailers Association (MMA), PCC Advisory Committee (PCCAC), and the Board of the National Postal Policy Council (NPPC). He is a board member of The Imaging Network Group (INg), an association for Transactional and Direct Mail Marketing service bureaus. As an expert on high-volume print and mail, he has frequently been asked to speak to various USPS groups. You can contact Harry Stephens at hstephens@datamatx.com


Direct Marketing 101

With John Foley, Jr.

Got Mail? How to Boost Your Mailing Revenue As a mailing house, you provide a time-saving service for your clients that makes their businesses run that much more smoothly. But, no business should rest on its laurels, so it’s always a good idea to turn your thoughts to what you can do to make your business that much more successful and see some great results in terms of increasing profits. The key to kicking your revenue into high gear is to take a two-pronged approach: streamline your service to provide the best service you can in the most efficient way, and look at what you offer your clients to see how you could help them and increase your profits at the same time.

Streamline Your Service When it comes to boosting your revenue, start by taking a good look at every aspect of your mailing business and figuring out what is working well, and where you are seeing some waste or hold ups in your processes that need addressing. From handling incoming orders to getting the timing right on production, preparation, and posting, the simple act of looking at each process and seeing what works and what doesn’t can help you to streamline the way you run your business.

With care, attention, and the willingness to grow and go the extra mile for your customers, you can make your mailing house more successful than ever, giving you a bright future. ¾ John Foley, Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. John and his team consult with print and mail companies on sales and marketing techniques, write strategic online marketing plans to get them on a path to marketing success, and John speaks frequently to print, mail, and fulfillment providers about expanding and transforming their businesses to grow revenue. John is the published author of three books available at JohnFoleyJr.com/Bookstore, including “Business Transformation: A Path to Profitability for the Mailing and Fulfillment Industries.” Learn more about John at JohnFoleyJr.com, and his companies at interlinkONE.com and GrowSocially.com.

Expand What You Offer Your customers know they can rely on your services, but what else could you do for their business? The more comprehensive a mailing service you can offer them, the better. They’ll know they can turn to you for advice and help and for a complete service that supports their business. From design services that personalize each piece of mail, to purchasing mailing lists or helping clients figure out their target market, expanding your services is an important part of giving your profits that desired boost.

Let Your Customers Know Why They Should Choose You So, you’ve got your mailing business running efficiently, and you’ve given serious consideration to what you can offer your clients to put you head and shoulders above the competition. Don’t forget the vital step of letting your clients know about it. There are many steps you can take to self-promote your business, and you can also use a matching service to assist you in getting maximum exposure and finding the right customers who need your services. Sites such as MyMailConnection.com are available to help businesses find you and match your print or mail business with potential customers looking for work. Take advantage of these opportunities and make sure your marketing materials make it clear how you can help your customers’ businesses to grow and be successful. Then, they will have compelling reasons to do business with you.

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11


The Trenches Quick and Dirty Try as they might to make sure they discuss all the project details in advance and acquire test files in plenty of time, there are bound to be surprises that occasionally show up for document operations managers on production day. Anytime an unexpected development in a printing and mailing job pops up at the last minute managers can be faced with a tough decision:

A. Pull the job back to make the adjustments and re-test, thereby missing the projected mailing date.

B. Mail the job as-is, knowing it won’t be completely correct but feeling confident about blaming the consequences on the customer’s inability to communicate accurate specifications.

C. Figure out a workaround that will address the new conditions but still allow for meeting the agreed mailing date. Well, I hope “B” doesn’t really happen very often. But if you’ve been in the document print and mail business for any length of time, you’ve probably run into this kind of situation. Some of those times you might choose solution “C.” I call those reactions to unanticipated but urgent conditions “quick and dirty” fixes. They are quick because they have to be – there’s often no time for detailed design and analysis. And they are dirty because they are implemented without the benefit of exhaustive testing. There’s nothing wrong with quick and dirty solutions so long as one allocates enough time for a thorough quality check before the work goes out. Just don’t let a temporary solution make its way into standard operating procedures. Quick and dirty fixes are designed to address a very specific set of circumstances. A permanent solution needs to be more comprehensive. Here are some ideas from around the world of print and mail that document professionals have used to get them beyond an unexpected obstacle and get the work out on time:

Deduping: If you don’t have a commercial merge/purge utility, you can eliminate records with identical values in whatever fields you designate, even if the fields are not contiguous. The duplicate records do not need to be 12

consecutive. They may be scattered throughout the file. Use the concatenate function of Excel to create a new column containing values from the fields that define a duplicate for a particular job. Save as a CSV file. Import the CSV file into Access and define your new column as the index field. Since Access doesn’t allow duplicate keys, only one of the records with identical values will be retained.

Hint: Excel can do some marvelous things to fix up data and make print programs less complex. When using any of Excel’s functions to manipulate the data, be sure to save as a CSV file for feeding into the next process. Saving as an Excel workbook retains only the formulas, not the reformatted data created by the formulas.

Extra Address Lines: Sometimes there are only a few records in a job that have more address lines than will fit in the window.

WE ALREADY TESTED… WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? It would be nice if the test data and material specifications provided in the planning stage of a mailing project always matched what shows up (sometimes at the last minute) for production. That isn’t always the case. Here are a few of the areas we’ve seen where a surprise development prompted a quick and dirty response… Data Extra or missing fields in the production data file (sometimes caused by embedded commas or quotes in some variable data values) Long data values that won’t fit when printed in the allocated space Extra address lines not included in the test file Duplicates File size exceeds data transmission limits Material Insufficient quantity of custom paper stock, envelopes, or inserts Improperly positioned form elements or envelope windows Improperly folded inserts Inserts are too light/too heavy to process consistently Inserts are too tall for the outbound envelopes Ink that transfers to printer or inserter rollers Mail piece length to height aspect ratios exceed postal standards Deep perforations cause material to separate during handling Glassine windows or envelope construction impedes smooth insertion into envelopes Envelope flaps sticking together Edge curl

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014 a www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com


With Mike Porter

Simply locate these records via a filter or search in a text editor or Excel. On a simple mail/merge you may be able to manually change the font size on those extra-long records right in the composed documents. Otherwise, filter the non-conforming records out to a file by themselves. Make a separate production run after reducing the document’s defined font size for the address block.

There’s nothing wrong with quick and dirty solutions so long as one allocates enough time for a thorough quality check before the work goes out. Forewarned is forearmed. Rick Novak, of International Mailing Systems notes, “We have our DP department give us a small summary of first data record, max lines data record, max width data record and last data record. Solves a lot of problems.“

Running out of inserts: Sometimes customers don’t account for spoilage or their print vendors somehow fail to send the entire order to the mail house. Running out of material for an inserting job on graveyard or over the weekend can be a big problem. Without preauthorization from the customer, operators will probably pull the job off the machine. Production takes a hit because of excess changeovers. To avoid this situation estimate the quantity of inserts as they are received. Request more if there is time or add authorized “run short” guidelines to the operator’s job instructions. What a difference the direction makes: Mele Printing, LLC had inherited a job from an acquired company that had seemingly been making production more difficult than it needed to be. Stuart Masson related how simply changing the sort sequence of documents from East-West to North-South eliminated a time-consuming (and probably error-prone) manual collation step. Avoiding “Dear whatsyournane,” salutations: Personalization is great — when it’s accurate. If your document composition software is plugging the customer’s first name into a letter and has no logic to substitute some other value when first name is blank, the letters are going to look highly impersonal. When there’s no time to go back and change the program logic, use a text editor or Excel to locate the records with the missing data and modify the database itself by filling the first name field with whatever default salutation is appropriate.

Clipboard balancing: If you don’t have time to set up automated document integrity and must resort to a manual method, break large inserting or matching jobs into manageable batches. That way, if there is a double-stuff or mismatch the operators will have only a small number of envelopes to examine instead of searching through the entire job. I once created a little routine for cut sheet lasers that inserted a colored piece of paper at specific intervals. Mail machine operators knew they had to stop and balance each batch whenever they encountered the colored sheets. On the balancing pages we printed the first account holder in the batch, the last account holder, the total number of pages and the total number of envelopes. During my career in the service bureau business and life as a consultant I’ve witnessed all the situations described here. It is never convenient to deal with the unexpected – especially when you have looming deadlines or a mountain of work to process. Having a few tricks up your sleeve will reduce the stress. Quick and dirty fixes could save the day. ¾ Mike Porter is President of Print/Mail Consultants, a firm that helps companies lower costs, develop future strategies, and improve quality in their document operations. Connect with Mike directly at mporter@ printmailconsultants.com. Or visit www.printmailconsultants.com and sign up for Practical Stuff, a free newsletter for document print and mail professionals.

product spotlight IMb Alone Can’t Verify Delivery Mailstream Intelligence combines a Strategic National Seeding Network with the power of the Intelligent Mail Barcode. You can target in-home delivery with pin point accuracy while planning for future mailings with current and historical data. See how the unpredictability of the USPS is affecting your client’s direct mail investment. US Monitor Paul Ercolino, President paul@usmonitor.com www.usmonitor.com

www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014

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My Two Cents The New DMM, a Book of Suggestions! No, I’m not talking about the recent realignment of the old DMM. I’m talking about what Seamless Acceptance is going to do to the Postal Service’s bible of rules and regulations once it is fully implemented. One thing is for sure, with no acceptance personnel to verify content and mailpiece design, more postal inspectors will be needed to chase down church ladies, small business people, and the unscrupulous professional mailer that intentionally does not prepare mail according to the DMM’s requirements.

If rules/regulations are not enforced at acceptance, no one will follow the rules and regulations! One of the main drivers for the USPS to change its acceptance and drop ship systems is the elimination of acceptance people and a reduction in dock personnel. With labor costs generating 80% of the Postal Service’s total costs, and postal costs driving postage, I am in favor of reducing labor costs. The problem is that the Postal Service keeps reducing customer facing knowledge employees as they exponentially increase the complexity of their mailing requirements. They reduced the number of MDAs and centralized control over them a few years ago. When we couldn’t get our questions answered soon enough, we were told to go to our BMEU employees to get help. Though many are not adequately trained, they are performing these duties as upper management continues to work their way through the MDA brain drain fiasco. Unfortunately, the existing BMEU employees are the last accessible human vestiges of mail prep knowledge in the Postal Service.

I want verification (approval) of content and the physical aspects of every mailing at time of entry!

Why is this important to my company? With no pre-entry verification, an operator of a sorting unit may be tasked with and decide that since a piece jammed on their machine the mailing should obviously be deemed non machinable and trigger the non-machinable surcharge. Not being trained in mailpiece design, neither this person nor their supervisor would be able to recognize that the jammed pieces meet applicable standards. Once this non-machinable determination has been made by any postal employee, my recourse is very limited. Have you ever had a negative ruling overturned, no matter how uninformed the postal person making the initial ruling? A terror scenario might be with the induction of a 1.88 ounce First Class enveloped letter. Upon scanning the mail job at one of those fancy new terminals, my mail would be loaded on a truck to New Orleans, where it is not unloaded until a tropical storm passes. Upon entry into the New Orleans SCF the mail job is flagged by postal computers to be sampled. The employee performing the sampling finds that the piece weight is now 2.05 ounces (after setting in a hot humid postal trailer for a week) and assesses an additional $0.40 in postage. On a 100,000 piece job the additional postage (assessed thirty days later on a postal score card) would be $40,000.00, enough to bankrupt a small shop. Finally, content determinations for non-profit mailings are fairly technical. Without human verification at entry, I could make a non-profit mailing thinking that the content was OK, only to have it sampled later and judged noncompliant. Worse, there is a possibility that a piece that cannot claim non-profit rates, through a quirk in the rules, may have content that also disqualifies it for Standard Mail rates.

{I knew you would need this extra moment to recover from nearly fainting.}

I have no problem with letting scanners check everything they can scan. This increases accuracy, reduces postal costs, and saves everyone time. The concept of Seamless is to accept the mail and verify it downstream through the use of sampling and barcode readers. The part of acceptance that requires human intervention is whether a piece meets content and mailpiece design standards, and to perform piece weight measurements/calculations. These content and physical verification functions must be completed at time of entry, not downstream! It won’t take as many employees to do this streamlined verification as it does to do an in-depth verification today. It can be done in smaller (square foot) offices than is currently being used and it will not require floor scales. But verifying content and the physical aspects of a mailpiece will require a welltrained, knowledgeable employee. Eliminating BMEU employees will have a significant negative effect on the majority of organizations presenting mail, as well as the Postal Service itself!

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SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014 a www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com

In this situation First Class postage would be assessed by an unknown postal employee with questionable training. The upcharge assessed on 100,000 pieces for a 2.05 ounce piece could be as high as $65,000.00. And my customer? Long gone. Pre-entry verification would allow me to either collect the additional postage before entry or argue and prove the content meets applicable standards. There is another factor to consider with Seamless Acceptance and the use of occasional sampling to verify piece weight, compliance with content restrictions, and mail design standards. Without an acceptance clerk constantly saying, “no, you have to do it this way” no one will know how mail is supposed to be prepared or what the applicable standards are. If mail is not consistently verified by qualified postal employees at time of entry, occasional mailers will never prepare mail correctly or meet content and design standards, due to a lack of knowledge. Worse, some “professional” mailers will fane ignorance and see what they can get away with.


With Todd Butler

Note for postal management: Seriously, you don’t think occasional mailers will go online looking for answers in the DMM, do you? If there is little to no verification of the content and physical make-up of the piece, the DMM becomes a book of suggestions rather than a book of regulations. This can have a huge negative financial impact on the Postal Service and those that play by the rules. While I require customers to use the proper paper weight and meet current design standards (tabbing etc.) my competitors will be telling customers (through conscious intent or ignorance) that all of that is no longer necessary. The cost differential and flexibility provided by not following the rules will deliver a significant incentive for all companies to ignore the DMM.

Without an acceptance clerk constantly saying, “No, you have to do it this way,” no one will know what the applicable standards are. As an MSP I cannot afford to enter a direct mail job and find out a month later more postage has been assessed because some uneducated (in the DMM) machine operator or other under trained employee deems it so. The liability potential of sampling downstream is staggering. Likewise, the additional cost of processing and potential lost revenues to the Postal Service of millions of pieces of mail generated by uneducated (in mailpiece design, weight restrictions, and content) mail preparers could be just as staggering. A Seamless analogy in the commercial world would be if a retail business decided, in a cost cutting effort, to eliminate all check-out employees, requiring customers to use U-Scan machines, unsupervised. In lieu of having employees supervise/verify the checkout process, management would periodically have the janitorial staff do random compliance checks… in the parking lot, when it wasn’t raining. These checks would verify that customers had indeed scanned all of the items they carried out of the store and paid the appropriate amount due. Yeah, like their shelves wouldn’t be empty and the company gone broke within a week! a Todd Butler, Butler Mailing Services, can be reached at 513.870.5060, toddb@butlermail.com or www.butlermail.com.

www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014

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Ship It

With Jim LeRose

Mobile Returns – No Longer An Option Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. Consumers who purchase from a mobile device want to return the same way! I repeat. Consumers who purchase from a mobile device want to return the same way. With one third of ecommerce orders (that’s $114 billion in 2013) being placed on a mobile device you would think e-tailers would have mobile return options available, but that is not the case. Consumers are still required to use old-fashioned methods including visits to web portals, completing/affixing pre-packaged return labels (limiting inbound item visibility) or placing the dreaded phone call (perish the thought) to customer service — a processes that usually infuriates shoppers, and wastes time and money. So why has mobile return technology lagged so far behind?

There are many ways to get ahead of the pack in the area of returns especially if you offer a simple paperless mobile return option. It is also important to understand consumer problems/ demands to properly design the experience.

For starters, many e-tailers don’t want to simplify returns. Everyone’s got a problem with them. For merchants, there’s a fine line between visibility of incoming items and satisfying consumers who don’t want to contact the store to get return approval. Many stores don’t have the metrics to truly measure the profitability and effectiveness of their return programs. For consumers who demand simplicity and choice, some policies send them clamoring for an alternative.

2. Visiting a website. By today’s standards this is a struggle, especially with the millennial generation (ages 18 – 34). Dreading this option, consumers either don’t return (never to buy again from the same store) or take the full 30, 60 or 360 days (time given by various merchants) to return the item(s).

Another reason for the absence of a mobile return solution might be due to the time merchants have dedicated to fixing other, more pressing problems. At the forefront; how to stop Amazon.com from putting them out of business and, perhaps, how to avoid another holiday delivery catastrophe. For the record, these are the top 10 issues e-tailers have with returns: 1. Poor consumer experience – unhappy customers 2. Loss of revenue 3. Increased shipping costs 4. Increased handling/labor costs 5. Lower profit 6. Chronic “returners” (how to avoid selling to them) 7. Fewer conversions / lack of customer loyalty 8. Lack of business intelligence (BI) 9. Incorrect items being returned/theft 10. Visibility of returning inventory While Amazon.com is systematically taking over the planet (demonstrating power that would make Vladimir Putin envious) it is continually setting the bar for rapid home delivery at the lowest shipping cost as we all know. However, its return options have not changed in years and believe it or not, there is no mobile option. Packing slips and return labels included in every shipment only worsen the problem since these items are largely ignored and simply end up incinerated or in our landfills. 16

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014 a www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com

Here are the top five issues consumers have with returns: 1. Customer service. Consumers do not want to call customer service departments to initiate a return. Where this is a requirement, unhappy customers abound. The process is long, drawn out and the caller knows they are going to get “put through the mill” while the person they are speaking with is reading from a boring and tedious script. In today’s world it doesn’t make sense to hassle your customer.

3. Waste. Billions of packing slips and return labels designed to simplify the return process generate tons of waste. Environmentally conscious shoppers want to eliminate waste but have very little choice. 4. No carrier choice. Today’s consumer can easily find their most convenient carrier drop off point. They want to use their preferred carrier, not whom the merchant forces them to use. They also do not want to pay skyrocketing retail shipping prices. 5. No mobile return option. Remember: those who order from a mobile device want to return the same way! What can be done to help e-tailers win business and delight consumers? Go mobile! If your ecommerce store still requires a manual time-consuming RMA process, it’s time to get rid of it. This process along with virtually every other return process can be completely automated via a mobile device with all applicable business rules governing the process. That will save money, help the environment and delight consumers. Those that get it, will win big in the coming holiday season and beyond. Are you prepared for the mobile return revolution? ¾ Jim LeRose is Principal of Agile Network, North America’s leading provider of multi-carrier shipping software and transportation cost reduction strategies. Jim is also CEO/Founder of EcoReturn.com. Contact Jim at jim.lerose@agile-network.com or 888.214.1763. Visit www.agile-network.com for more information.


APPLICATION ARTICLE

SPEED. FLEXIBILITY. CUSTOMIZATION. Why You Should Migrate to Digital Print Making the decision to go digital When it comes to print marketing and direct mail, we all strive to find cost savings, reduce costs and improve speed to market. At the same time, we also want to deliver a more complete customer experience with better targeting and customization. Oh, and let’s make sure to improve return on investment while we’re at it. That’s a tall order, but digital print can make it happen.

What Is Digital Print? High speed digital print, or print on demand, is a printing solution that delivers both personalized print with 100% variable data and non-personalized print at full press speed. It allows you to reduce time to market, increase customization, maximize operational and postal savings and streamline the marketing process.

The True Cost of Traditional Print With traditional printing, there is typically a portion of the printed material that is wasted. There are also “empty dollars” associated with shipping, receiving and storing excess inventory. Print on demand (POD) allows for more efficient management of your print spend by enabling you to print what you need, when you need it. As a result, you can keep very little, if any, inventory on the shelf.

In Action: National Retailer Meets Efficiency Goals, Improves On-Time Delivery by 80% As part of its loyalty program, a national electronics retailer mailed sales information packages to business customers in each store’s geographic footprint. With more than 100 locations participating, the program required many customized materials. The materials were printed traditionally, maintained in storage and, as a result, were continually over-printed, out of stock or outdated. Converting the program to print on demand resulted in substantial savings in printing and storage costs, improved on-time mail delivery by 80% and reduced material inventory levels to nearly zero. It also provided the retailer with new opportunities to customize collateral with targeted imagery and messaging, thus increasing content relevance and overall ROI.

Making the decision to go digital Check out Harte Hanks’ white paper to learn more about digital print and how you can fold it into your direct mail marketing mix. Learn more about the benefits, as well as key factors you should consider in your decision to go digital. To download the paper, visit: http://response.hartehanks.com/directmailprint

Considering the wasted material and “empty dollars”, the price per piece with digital printing is actually less than that of traditionally printed materials—saving you money and improving ROI in the long term.

The Benefits: Fast, Focused and Flexible } Speed: Print on demand gets materials into the hands of your customers or prospects in hours, not days. } Customization: Print on demand offers the perfect platform for using known data, including demographics, past behaviors, attitudes and preferences, to improve the relevance of each communication for true one-to-one marketing. } Flexibility: Print on demand offers endless versioning capabilities, allowing marketers to create completely unique and customized pieces within the same print run.

www.hartehanks.com contactus@hartehanks.com


MAIL PRODUCTION, IN AN 8’ X 12’ PACKAGE

product spotlights

what to see at

RISO, Inc.’s Print-to-Mail solution transforms a ComColor X1 printer into a self-contained, high-speed mailing facility that prints, folds, inserts, addresses, and seals – all in one pass. It provides full variable data input for transactional, trans-promotional and billing documents, and increased mailpiece integrity, as inserts and envelope are printed simultaneously. Come see this solution in action at Graph Expo, Booth #2607.

GRAPH

EXPO!

Print & Stamp in One Pass!

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RISO, Inc. 800.663.3011 www.us.riso.com

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21 OOT 52 H

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BCC Software is back!

23 OOT 67 H

Postmatic Inc. provides the ultimate solution for inline stamping and fixed image printing with our Inline Stamping Base — Print One. Now you have the ability to affix stamps and print “Mailer’s Precancelled Permits”, text, indicia, bulk-rate permits, logos, barcodes, dates, and more in a single pass.

Visit our booth (#2367) to see featured solutions including: Datavolve 2.0 – USPS Certified address validation and standardization; Go Data – 100% self-service data quality and list enhancement; Data Preflight – Output quality and proofing tool for BCC Mail Manager. Remember to pick up your free back-up charger at our booth!

Postmatic 763.784.6046 info@postmatic.net www.postmatic.net

BCC Software 800.453.3130 marketing@bccsoftware.com www.bccsoftware.com

Short-term ROI, long-term profitability

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Increase Consistency, Productivity and Predictability

You can now say “YES” to quick turnaround and short run color profits! The iJetColor Press, powered by Memjet technology, brings new revenue opportunities to print shops and mailroom operations by providing low cost, personalized 4-color envelope and direct mail jobs in print volumes as low as one unit.

Buskro’s revolutionary in-place fully automated maintenance system (AMS) is the first of its kind in the production inkjet marketplace. This ground-breaking product allows users to recover lost jets and perform routine maintenance in an easier more predicable manner with less waste and down time than ever before.

Printware 800.456.1400 sales@printwarellc.com www.ijetcolor.com

Buskro 905.839.6018 sales@buskro.com www.buskro.com


SHAPE UP YOUR DIRECT MAIL!

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Master Intelligent Mail with Ease

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Mail boxes are filled with boring direct mail. Expand your capabilities with attention grabbing octagon, nonagon and round cornered shaped products. Die cut postcards and direct mail with the new Delta Sheet-fed Die Cutting system. Quick changeover, speeds up to 5,000 sph, made in USA with a great price point. See it live at Graph Expo.

An alternative to larger, higher priced systems, Sensible Technologies’ high performance feeder/folder and intelligent inserter solutions deliver industry-leading uptime to help you increase productivity and capacity. Our simple, durable designs make our equipment easier to operate with less manpower for a lower-cost ROI. Visit Booth # 2060 for a demonstration.

Rollem’s Die Cutting Division 714.935.9130 scorwin@rollemusa.com, www.rollemusa.com/diecut

Sensible Technologies 734.421.1727 info@sensibletech.com www.sensibletech.com

Is your Workflow SIMPLE-fied?

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As communicators of critical information it is important to keep it SIMPLE. Is your Customer Communications workflow SIMPLE? When we talk SIMPLE-fied workflow, we want people to think: Streamlined, Innovative, Measurable, Profitable, Leveraged and Extended. Find out more during our Solutions Summit at GRAPH EXPO 14 or come by our booth #344. Crawford Technologies 866.679.0864 sales@crawfordtech.com www.crawfordtech.com/SolutionsSummit

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26 OOT The Print On Anything Inkjet 55 H Print consistent, crisp, vibrant, high quality images and text on virtually any substrate! Equipped with Renoir UV curable inks and a variety of curing options, this state of the art system is perfect for imaging onto the widest variety of substrates including coated paper, plastics and even metal, all at high speeds. Buskro 905.839.6018 sales@buskro.com www.buskro.com

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21 OOT Matching, Sequence Checking, 54 H

Verification, Station Selection…

From the lowest price visual match system to the automated OCR/Barcode match system, to our latest Station Selection system, Clear Image Technologies has a solution for you. All of our Picture Perfect Match System products are modular, so you only buy what you need today but have the flexibility to upgrade tomorrow. Clear Image Technologies 314.853.5867 larry@clearimagetechnologies.com www.clearimagetechnologies.com

TURN THE PAGE

FOR MORE

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS


Mail Smarter, Not Harder

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Streamline your mailing operation with Satori mailing solutions. Take the guesswork out of mail preparation and achieve higher satisfaction rates while improving your ROI. From data processing to post-presort and entry planning, it’s time to take a fresh look at our comprehensive mailing solution set. Learn how you can take advantage of the high-quality service and support enjoyed by Satori Software customers. Satori Software 800.553.6477 sales@satorisoftware.com www.satorisoftware.com

Visit us at Graph Expo 2014!

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Pitney Bowes is bringing more integrated technology solutions to help your business succeed. See how our versatile portfolio of integrated technology solutions can help you get more out of your customer communications. Come see our solutions: White Paper Factory; OfficeMail Hybrid Mail Software Solution; Riso ComColor Printer and much more. Pitney Bowes www.pitneybowes.com

20% USPS Volume Growth? It’s True!

Just Add Data

Buskro’s new Atom printhead is a fully integrated printer combining all of the elements of the controller directly into a self-standing module. The Atom’s “Just Add Data” approach accepts standard communication protocols, seamlessly interfaces with a number of existing control systems and offers significant ink cost savings over thermal inkjet printers. Buskro 905.839.6018 sales@buskro.com www.buskro.com

Opte-mizing Mailing Analytics

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Optesort is a suite of software products by NPI designed to efficiently analyze and minimize mailers finalized cost for First Class and Standard mailings. The Suite offers the ability to quickly perform what-if analysis of various mail streams in order to increase Presort Discounts as well as optimize Drop ship discounts. NPI 888.821.SORT (7678) www.npisorters.com

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One of the most exciting growth areas for the USPS will be on display in Booth 3005 at Graph Expo. Big changes are coming in the fast-paced world of e-commerce, and Bell and Howell can help you discover your role in the future of getting it there. Grab a pair of 3D glasses and take a video tour of one of the most revolutionary new products in the e-commerce space! Bell and Howell 800.220.3030 marketing@bhemail.com http://bellhowell.net/graphexpo

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Ricoh

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Mailers seeking to improve their mail integrity, automate workflows, and support their customers’ marketing campaigns will find innovative solutions at Ricoh Americas Corporation’s booth 1931. There will be live demonstrations of Ricoh’s 2014 MUST SEE ‘EMS award-winning Postal Optimization Solutions, part of the Critical Communications Solution Suite, and 1to1Create Marketing Services. Ricoh Americas Corp. www.rpp.ricoh-usa.com


APPLICATION ARTICLE

Cleaner Lists. Higher Response. More Savings. Doing Business Smarter Doing business smarter and more efficiently is always a goal for every company—but with budget cuts downsizing and shrinking margins it’s more important today than ever before. The companies that overcome margin challenges and are still seeing revenue growth are the same ones that continuously analyze their workflow processes to identify ways to optimize those processes and implement the necessary changes for optimization. Let’s focus on one specific process—mailing list cleansing and updating—and review the cost-saving capabilities of today’s available solutions.

Opportunity is Knocking on the Mailroom Door Every year more than 40 million Americans change their addresses. If your mailing lists aren’t regularly updated to reflect these ongoing changes you waste a lot of your marketing budget producing and sending out mail that never reaches its intended target. This type of mail is called Undeliverable-as-Addressed (UAA) by the United States Postal Service (USPS), and according to the USPS Move Update requirements all mailing lists must be updated with undeliverable addresses removed at least every 95 days. The easiest way to be sure that the addresses on your mailing lists are current and accurate is by applying industry best practices for list cleansing and updating. Fortunately there are some simple affordable solutions designed for scrubbing and updating your lists reducing undeliverable mail pieces before they enter the mailstream and staying compliant with USPS regulations.

More Data—Better Addresses Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) evaluates and enhances the accuracy of the software that businesses use to match standardize and correct street addresses. If the software meets the USPS requirements it is deemed CASS Certified. Many businesses use basic types of CASS-Certified address correction software while others use raw customer input data for address updates. These basic level services do help to maintain the quality of your lists but there are also innovative and powerful new solutions that take list hygiene to a whole new level resulting in even higher deliverability rates.

Closing the List Loop Quality list hygiene solutions can benefit your business in many ways. Improving in-home delivery rates with correct addresses helps your chances of a better response rate and reduces wasted expenses of undeliverable mail. There were over 6.9 billion pieces

of mail last year that went undelivered. How much of your mail was in that pile? Many undeliverable addresses are simply the result of a typo or data entry error. The more advanced list correction solutions go beyond simply flagging and deleting invalid addresses to include recognizing typos and keying errors analyzing and cross referencing data and automatically fixing errors when possible so your mail still gets to its intended target on the scheduled in-home date. When developing your cleansing strategy be sure you create a closed-loop address hygiene process. This will ensure that address updates are automatically sent back to original data sources to eliminate paying to correct the same addresses over and over again and improve your overall data quality.

Leverage Today’s Technology Poor address quality results in avoidable operational costs, wasted marketing dollars, and missed revenue opportunities. Choosing to leverage today’s technology to keep your address data as accurate and current as possible is smart business. Get your mail delivered to the right address with Pitney Bowes ConnectRight Mailer. ConnectRight Mailer uses the latest in web technology to keep your mail lists accurate in real time, so you can focus on your core business. You can trust Pitney Bowes to keep address information up-to-date, so that you’re sending your mail to the right place at the best rate. You will have access to the latest USPS postage discounts, and unlimited access to the USPS NCOA, so you are mailing to a customer’s most recent address on file with the Post Office. You’ve invested a lot in creating the perfect mail piece. ConnectRight Mailer helps make sure you’re making the most of that investment.

Visit Pitney Bowes Booth #1224 at Graph Expo September 28 October 1 to learn more about why ConnectRight Mailer may be right for your business. Visit us at www.pitneybowes.com.


HOW TO MAXIMIZE THE VALUE OF MAIL THROUGH BEST PRACTICES

T

he Mail Center Manager is in a key position to dramatically increase the value and performance of the mail they process. But in many cases it simply isn’t in the job description. I suggest that you challenge this. You can make a difference! In the process, you will elevate the importance of your job and your department. The first step is to become the “Mail Champion” of your company/organization. How? Get certified! Earn your MDP and MDC certifications. Then help your staff in their professional growth by earning their own. Make a big deal out of it too; present the award in front of the entire company. You will be amazed how this recognition can do more to improve moral and performance than a pay raise. Get involved in mail creation at the earliest stages. Create and maintain a “Guide to Mailing Services,” describing your scope of

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services in both print and company Intranet. Include everything a mailer should know before they create that disaster in waiting they want you to mail. Include key deadlines, services you can perform in-house and those that will be outsourced. Offer to participate in marketing meetings and promote the value of mail when it is done right. Send out regular newsletters promoting your operation, including reminders of key information, like how to reduce mystery mail the importance of mail stop data, services offered, postal news and department campaigns.

marketing, unless you are sending only to current customers, is trending downward. Mail, on the other hand is still going strong. Most people realize that the sender spent money to put their message in front of them. Because time is so precious, the recipient of your mailpiece may only spend about one to two seconds to make a decision to open or toss it. This is the “Mail Moment.” Does the message live or die? A well designed mailpiece can be very effective — regardless of how much it cost to get it there.

The Mail Moment Mail has never been more valuable. Where email communication was once considered a panacea for marketers, response rates are only a tiny fraction of what direct mail produces. Google’s Gmail software (used by many millions) now automatically places marketing communications (except theirs) in a separate box altogether. Many of us receive so much email that we ignore all but the most immediate and important. Email

SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014 a www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com

Mailing Success Forty percent of mailing success is determined by the quality of the list. Keep in mind that 80% of sales are generated by only 20% of customers, so every piece is important! Another 40% of the mailing success is based upon the offer. The remaining 20% is the creative element — how you present your offer. Here success may be measured by what you don’t do.


BY GORDON S. GLAZER } Fix both the personalized portion and the physical portion of the address by using CASS software to update and standardize address. } Remove Duplicates: search for duplicates with multiple filters; one should include the address. } Make Standard mail look and perform like First Class.

The Science of Mail Mail can be very complicated. You can spend a career becoming an expert in many areas and will never know it all. It is not necessary to get everything perfect. Because of the short window of time your piece is evaluated, three things are critical: 1. Use the right vehicle: closed or window envelope, self-mailer or postcard being the most common. 2. Show a compelling reason for the recipient to open. 3. Avoid all telltale flags that your mailpiece might be “Junk.”

It Is Possible to Maximize Savings and Improve results! You likely don’t have any input into the offer or list. However…You can give the piece the best possible chance to succeed. How? By eliminating the flags that can trigger the piece to be categorized as “Junk.”

} Envelopes are the vehicle of choice for savvy marketers for they know they perform the best and are worth the extra money. Since they need to be opened in order to be evaluated, eliminate the sortation marks from the address block. You can remove the optional endorsement line all together if using IMb (**********************AUTOCR **C-04) Move bundle, tray, break, sort # and place elsewhere. My favorites are under the meter impression or the far lower left, as it also performs a function of priming the nozzles when spraying the IMb in the BC clear zone. Separate the IMb from the address block; you can place up to ½ below the last line, or put in the BC clear zone. Make sure to account for variable number of address lines and other placement rules. } Many marketers sell the idea of stamps as the way to personalize the mail and improve the open rate. There is too much of this out there; if you don’t cancel the stamp with the optional Mailer’s Postmark, it will not perform well. One study showed by adding two one-cent stamps and the Mailer’s Postmark, their response and results sky-rocketed! “Their response rate and average gift amount both jumped 20% versus the control, and the revenue generated by the test panel was 45% greater than the control.” } If you want the message to appear to be highly personalized, use a large script font in blue ink, double space, use a pre-cancelled stamp and add the optional Mailer’s Postmark to make it appear like a real stamped letter. Perfect for invitation styled mailings.

} Give them a reason to open; unless the reason is pure mystery or they know who you are, the envelope needs to be your messenger. Think of the outside of the envelope as a canvas. The rest is limited only by your imagination. } Use key data points from your database in the offer line to improve results. One study showed a 500% improvement over a static black and white address. One of my favorite examples showed a hot dog with my name spelled out in mustard. For postcards make the best use of the back address side, because that is the side they see first!

Learn from your mailbox The mail you receive at home and at work can be the best teachers! But first you need to look at it from a layman’s perspective. What is your overall impression? would you be inclined to open it? Was there an appealing offer line? OK, now look at it with your professional eyes: examine how it was addressed, what kind of printer did they use, what type of postage, if it was a stamp — was it cancelled? Did they use an optional endorsement line, sortation #, package mark, tray mark, break mark or Ancillary Endorsement? What was the marketing appeal? Did they use variable data, color or QR code? With the reality of tightening budgets and marching orders to do more with less it is critically important to get the most value for your spend. I encourage you to reach out to your peers, vendors and consultants to help you on this quest. Mailing can be a science; it also can be very successful by doing just the basics right… with a little imagination.

Gordon Glazer, CMDSM, CMDSS, MDP, MDC is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Shipware LLC, an innovative parcel audit and consulting firm that helps volume parcel shippers reduce shipping costs 10%-30%. Gordon is a postal industry veteran with 27 years of experience and is a sought after speaker and industry thought leader. He welcomes questions and comments, and can be reached at 858.724.0457 or gordon@shipware.com.

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BY JIM MULLAN

MEMBER VALUE IN ASSOCIATIONS Associations are created to establish strength and unity in working toward common goals in virtually every profession. When I was first asked by Mailing Systems Technology’s editor to submit an article on the value of associations today, I immediately thought, “This will be really personal because my membership in many career associations — MSMA, PCC, ARMA, AIIM — has brought value through networking and educational benefits, which have boosted my career!” I can honestly say that without my association memberships I would not be where I am today. When I was first hired I did not know the recruiter personally. He told me that he became aware of me through my association with the MSMA. To know that I “practice what I preach” you only need to check my LinkedIn profile and to the list of my “Honors & Awards,” “Certifications,” “Projects” and “Publications” – all of which resulted from my heavy involvement and participation in multiple associations. Do understand that associations do not just hand out these awards and certifications. You must earn them by completing courses as well as by 24

participating and networking, volunteering and serving on committees.

} to give back to their industry or } to obtain value from their membership

I am a strong believer in “getting out what you put in.” I have served on multiple boards in various capacities on numerous associations and still do so today. I am presently the President of the Metro NJ NY MSMA Chapter while also serving on the MSMA National Board as Director of Marketing. I also serve as the Industry CoChair for the Greater New Jersey Postal Customer Council and on the PCCAC Membership Committee.

Fortunately, for most people, their desire to become a member lies somewhere in between and they want to give and receive from the association. Most associations give members the opportunity to do both.

Becoming a member of a professional association has many advantages. They are found in just about every industry. One question often asked is, “Is it worth the yearly fees to join these groups?” The short answer to that question is a resounding “YES.” The advantages of joining an industry group are many and can help any individual advance their careers and improve their skills.

What are members looking for? People join professional associations for a variety of reasons. However, there are two major reasons for a person to join a group today:

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In no particular order, below are some examples of how being a part of an association can provide value. In today’s tough economy, money is not readily available so you need a good reason to give your time and investment. Also, you must justify this expense to your company, which will want to know the ROI, the corporate value and benefit you are going to bring back to your organization. } Professional Development – I am living proof that one of the biggest benefits of any association is giving its members the chance for further development in the industry. Through certifications, courses, seminars, workshops, publications and many other avenues, members can take advantage of the collective knowledge of their entire association.


} Networking – To me, the most valuable benefit one can get out of association memberships is the ability to stay in contact with other members. You can forge valuable relationships with other members that can benefit you when looking for a new job or needing referrals or recommendations for many things. These professional meetings and gatherings can provide you with the opportunity to meet and mingle with your peers. Members are generally willing to help other members. Networking is a wonderful way to get to know association members and interact with them socially and professionally. } Industry Advancement – Most association members will have a goal of helping to advance their industry. This can provide value for the entire group by raising awareness of industry standards and best practices. The association can be shown in a positive light when its members showcase what the association has to offer.

} Membership Access – Membership access can pay off in numerous ways. First and foremost, you can call on members to assist you to serve on committees or boards. Members are often experts in certain fields that you may need assistance in. Membership also allows you to engage people for their experience, expertise and knowledge. } Mentoring – This is another important area where value can be both given and received. Members with vast experience will see the value and benefit to the association and industry in assisting the younger members gain experience and knowledge in the industry. It is often hard to justify spending your hard-earned money on dues and fees for professional associations. Yet that money can provide great value to you and to the association. Member value can be viewed as working two ways — getting value and giving your time, but in the end it is the member who generally reaps the greatest

value. My suggestion is to get involved in your professional association and enjoy the benefits of membership. Simply stated, associations provide value to members through networking, education and sharing of success and failure. Knowing that others have incurred some of the same challenges and hearing their stories and solutions can build your confidence, provide you with a new perspective and affirm your ideas and direction. All too often we obtain knowledge though a small window reflecting our specific industry. Associations serving all major industries, from mail to legal to banking, include members with a vast array of experience and who are often willing to share what they know. Tapping that knowledge is virtually priceless. James P. Mullan, CMDSM, EMCM, MDP, MDC, CSSGB, National Operations Manager Chubb, Canon Business Process Services, Inc. can be reached at 908.903.2869 or jmullan@ chubb.com

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BY DEBBIE PFEIFFER

THE STATE OF OUR INDUSTRY CHANGE CREATES OPPORTUNITY As mailers and mail service providers prepare for our most active quarter of the calendar year, a number of factors are creating new challenges and new opportunities for our industry. Growing regulatory and compliance considerations, uncertainty about postal rate increases, and the continued proliferation of digital communication channels are influencing the way businesses and consumers use mail. At the same time, innovations in data collection, document design, mail production, and presort services ensure that mail will continue to play a leading role in enabling mission-critical communication and facilitating commerce throughout the world. Churchill famously said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.� I am convinced that if we take a realistic, but optimistic view of the challenges facing our industry, we might just find our greatest opportunities. 26

Growing regulatory and compliance considerations mean your reputation is on the line Growing regulatory requirements create both a challenge and an opportunity for mail service providers. New government regulations that mandate consumer notifications usually result in more mailings. At the same time, regulated industries, including healthcare, banking and insurance, have little room for error when it comes to compliance, putting even more pressure on these institutions and the mail service providers they rely on. Mailers in regulated industries must ensure that Personally Identifiable Information (PII) remains private, while delivering mandated consumer notifications accurately and on time. Mistakes can lead to fines and legal actions, as well as irreparable damage to the public reputations of offending organizations. If you operate in a regulated industry and have not recently revisited your own mail

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processes for compliance, now is the time. Here are three questions you should ask yourself and your mail service provider today: 1. Proof of content: Is the content in every mailpiece accurate and compliant? 2. Proof of production: Was each mailpiece accurately compiled, addressed and produced? 3. Proof of induction: Was each mailpiece mailed correctly? Was it inducted at the right time, in the right place? The proliferation of mobile, web and video-based communications necessitates smarter integration of physical and digital channels and creates opportunities for those who do it well After years of angst, some denial, and a host of dire prophesies that never came true, most mailers no longer see the proliferation of digital communication channels as a threat, as much as they view them as


an opportunity. The research is generally conclusive. Direct mail continues to drive successful customer communications campaigns, and digital channels do not do nearly as well without the support of mail, as they do with it. It has been proven time and again that combining digital and physical communications increases open rates, response rates, and ROI. In fact, the more channels you add, the better the results. A recent InfoTrends study found: } response rates increase 27% when direct mail is combined with a web landing page OR an email address } response rates increase 37% when direct mail is combined with a web landing page AND an email address } response rates increase 45% when direct mail is combined with a web landing page, email address and mobile marketing This basic integration of physical and digital communications is fundamental to any effective marketing campaign. Without it, marketers put themselves at a significant competitive disadvantage. More progressive marketers are pushing the limits of physical and digital integration even further. Innovations like augmented reality are allowing retailers to use their catalogs and direct mailpieces to trigger personalized and powerful consumer experiences. For example, using this technology, a consumer can choose a piece of furniture from a catalog, render a 3D image of that piece of furniture on their smartphone and then use the smartphone’s camera to project the image to scale. She can then see exactly how that piece of furniture would fit in her home.

Innovations in dynamic print production give mail an advantage over other communications channels Innovation in mail is not the exclusive domain of retailers and direct marketers. New technologies and printing processes are also allowing traditional First-Class mailers like banks, insurers, healthcare providers, and utility companies to turn their

consumer bills and statements into powerful marketing tools. Market leaders in these industries have long made effective use of color and inserts to enhance customer engagement and reduce call-center volumes. Today, the best of these companies are also delivering powerful, full-color, personalized messaging at the first point of contact — directly on the envelope. Sophisticated institutional mailers no longer stock pre-printed forms and envelopes. Instead, they are leveraging the latest innovations in data management, printing and finishing with White Paper Factories — end-to-end production mail solutions that transform plain rolls of white paper and envelopes into high-impact, colorful and personalized customer communications. A White Paper Factory eliminates the need for pre-printed forms and envelopes, helping to streamline print and mail processes and lower operational and postage costs, all while adding greater value to each mailpiece.

Postage optimization is more important than ever and more accessible than ever Postage is the largest contributor to overall mail costs. At the time of this writing, we are only beginning to understand the impact recent postal rate increases have had on our industry, and there is uncertainty about the future of postage rates. Whatever the outcome, optimizing postage spend remains a high priority for all mail operations professionals, and there is opportunity in this area as well. There is not a “one size fits all” solution to automating mail sorting to capture postage savings. Mail volume and ZIP Code density, mailing patterns, labor and space requirements, speed of delivery and concerns over privacy and control all must be considered when choosing a solution. By allowing each page and envelope to be printed with 100% variable data, mailers using a White Paper Factory solution can combine separate jobs and print them in ZIP Code order to qualify for postage discounts. Some high-volume transactional mailers benefit from in-house sorters that

can process nearly 50,000 pieces of mail per hour. Other mailers, whose volumes and ZIP Code concentrations are not high enough to qualify for postage discounts, benefit from working with a national presort services provider who can comingle mail from multiple businesses to qualify for the deepest postage discounts. External presort services help drive down operational and postage costs for First-Class Mail and Direct Mail alike. A good presort services provider meets the highest security and quality control standards, and is an expert on postal rules and regulations. Some mailers find that a hybrid approach is their most cost effective option to achieving presort discounts. These mailers augment their in-house sorting capabilities with an external presort services provider who processes mail for geographical areas where volumes or ZIP Code concentrations fall short of the best discounts. This hybrid approach is made easier today thanks to the new Intelligent Mail barcode (IMBC) which allows mailers to track their letters and cards every step of the way, whether they deliver direct to USPS, or route mail through a presort services provider. Perhaps mailers and mail service providers do face greater challenges than ever before, but I hope you will agree that the tools and technologies we have to overcome those challenges are also greater than ever before. The fourth quarter of the calendar year is a busy quarter for mail, as it encompasses the political mail, benefit enrollments, and the holiday mail season. It is a good time to watch for creative innovation in our industry. It is also a good time to take inventory of our own businesses and reassess processes we may be taking for granted. Are we truly fortified against compliance issues? Are our physical and digital communication channels working together? Are we making effective use of data and innovation in dynamic print production to enhance the value of our customer communications? Are we qualifying for the deepest postage discounts? Strengthening those areas of our mail operations to counter the challenges we face will create untold opportunities for our future. Debbie Pfeiffer is President, Pitney Bowes Presort Services.

www.MailingSystemsTechnology.com a SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2014

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HOW TO BUY AN

INCOMING

TRACKING SYSTEM BY ADAM LEWENBERG

[ TIPS FROM AN INDUSTRY INSIDER ] 28

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ncoming tracking systems can offer tremendous value to mail operations because they give complete accountability to your packages, overnights or additional items that need to be tracked. I have been in the mailing equipment industry for over 20 years, run the only Mailing Equipment Audit and Recovery firm (that we have found) and am not affiliated with any vendor. These are important credentials to be able to give you an unbiased view on what to look for when configuring the best incoming tracking system for your organization. The goal of this article is to highlight what is available, how to configure a system, and negotiate the lowest costs.

What data do you want to capture? Upon receipt from carrier Most incoming tracking systems will let you scan a carrier barcode which will automatically document the tracking number, date, time, carrier (if it is a major carrier like UPS, FedEx, and USPS), and person who scanned the item (based on their login to the program). From there, the question is what additional information you want to know. The most basic would be pulling an employee or department from an imported database on the system. You may also want to enter PO numbers or who the package is from. There could be custom fields created if you had additional data requirements. Each additional item adds operator time so prioritize data inputs to set up the most efficient process possible. I have also seen companies do a scan while the carrier is still on the dock to validate package counts. These customers will not sign for the packages until they know that everything matches the driver’s manifest. This is an optional step but could be helpful if errors were experienced in the past.

When received by the end user The biggest value with these systems is the way they connect what came in from the carrier to the receipt by the end user. This happens in many ways, but the most commonly seen are: } Packages Delivered to End Users — As the package is being delivered, the bar-

code gets scanned using a portable tracking assistant, and the end user signs this handheld device. Now the system has a closed loop process and knows the date, time of final delivery along with a proof of signature. It also knows the person who did the delivery if future questions arise. Some entities may not want or be able to capture signatures. An additional option is to scan a barcode pasted to a specific mail drops as proof that the packages were delivered. } Packages Picked Up in Receiving — These systems can be configured to send out an email, or printed receipt (to be put in a mailbox) letting the recipient know they have a package. When the package is being picked up, it gets scanned at the computer, and the recipient can sign a counter signature pad capturing the same data as above. We see this type of package pickup at colleges and universities or large campus environments.

Additional Traceable Items These systems can be configured to track just about anything based on your goals and objectives. They can scan the item or even generate unique barcode labels to be placed on items to track. Here are some examples that I have seen in the past but the sky is the limit: } Interoffice Mail } LTL Packages } Office assets – Computers, furniture, art } Luggage and Personal Items – At hotels and hospitals } Chemicals } Visitors

How to Configure the Right System Incoming tracking systems can range from

$5,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars based on how they are configured. The key is what options you will need. We will guide you to the right questions to set up a system that is right for your organization. Software Configuration — Do you need the system set up on a single PC, multiple PCs, or on the network at one or multiple sites? You can also provide desktop access to the packages that have been received by the end users throughout your building or entity. They can look up what packages they have received and post alerts to the receiving department of any special instructions that need to be followed. The software configuration is one of the biggest factors in the final cost of the system. Data Storage — Do you want the software installed locally or in the cloud? Remote access and storage is one of the newest and fastest growing trends in this space and both storage options should be considered. Hardware — This is one of the biggest decisions in configuring a tracking system because the hardware gives you the control capture the information. This hardware comes at a cost and should be scrutinized. } PC Scanners – These come in multiple configurations and pricing can range from $200-2,500 each. } Standard Cable Scanners – Wired to your PC } Wireless Scanners – Similar function but not tethered by the cord. } 2D Wired Scanners – Same as above but can take pictures of damaged packages or documents.

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} Portable Tracking Assistants — These devices look like an oversized mobile phone with a keyboard, touchscreen, scanner on the front and rugged case. They typically cost $1,500-3,500 each so only buy the number of units needed. Look for Wi-Fi or 4G enabled devices so you can communicate the data as the item is delivered vs. at the end of the route when it is being docked and charged. } Counter Signature Pads — This connects to the PC via a USB port to capture signatures when the item is picked up. Typical costs will be between $500-2,000. } Label Printers — These can generate standardized package labels that can go on items that come in without a barcode or on every item for a standardized process. These printers can be connected to the PC ($500-2,500) or portable and connect to your belt ($1,000-2,000) for added convenience. } Magnetic Stripe Card Readers — These readers can be connected to some portable tracking assistants and printers to scan someone’s ID badge instead of requiring signature.

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} PCs — Some vendors may try to include PCs with the systems, which I never recommend because they will be expensive and typically not the same as the ones supported by your IT group.

Timing — I always recommend buying at the end of the month, quarter or year when the vendors will be the most aggressive with discounts.

Conclusion How Can I Negotiate the Best Deal? Compare Multiple Vendors — Most vendors systems do basically the same things. They may use different hardware and features, but the core of what the systems do will be very close. This gives you more leverage and we strongly recommend getting two to three different quotes. Purchase or Lease — Even if you intend to lease, get a purchase quote and make sure the vendor is breaking out the cost of each line item (which is typically only done on purchases). As you can see above, the cost of the hardware is very expensive and professional service time to do set up and configuration ranges from $1,000-2,000 per day. You want to get the detail on what you are buying to give you the power to negotiate the different line items and then make the best buy vs. lease decision.

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These systems give you the ultimate CYA (Cover Your…) because everything is now accountable. They can be configured to track just about anything and are customizable to your needs. But this all comes at a price that you can control. Hopefully this article puts you in a better position to know the right questions to ask and how to build the right system at the lowest costs. Adam Lewenberg, CMDSS, MDC, President of Postal Advocate Inc., runs the largest Mail Audit and Recover firm in the United States. Their mission is to help entities with large numbers of locations reduce mail related expenses, recover lost postage funds, and simplify visibility and oversight. Over the last year, they have helped their clients save an average of 63% and over $3 million on equipment, fees and lost postage. He can be reached at 617.372.6853 or adam.lewenberg@postaladvocate.com.


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Mailing Systems Technology September-October 2014  

Mailing Systems Technology September-October 2014

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