Last week we outlined the challenges the Postal Service’s five-day delivery proposal presents to marketers using direct mail. We’ve examined the proposal in greater detail to see how marketers will need to change their strategy in order to avoid delays that can negatively impact their marketing programs which involve time-sensitive aspects like call center staffing and coupon distribution.
3-Day service becomes 6 or 7
The USPS website provides specific illustrations of Start-the-Clock and service standards for various products. Currently, for Standard Mail entered at a Destination SCF on a Saturday with 3-day Service Standard, expected delivery is Tuesday. Just as for Standard Mail entered at a Destination SCF on a Wednesday with 3-day Service Standard, expected delivery date is Saturday. However, under the five-day proposal, this Wednesday entry would now have a Monday delivery date (five days). If that Monday happened to be a federal holiday, then the in-home delivery for SCF arrival on Wednesday would be pushed out to Tuesday (six days). And if the holiday resulted in a heavy volume of First-Class Mail awaiting delivery, the in-home could even push to Wednesday (seven days).
The National Mailers’ Challenge
In reality, “planning” is a much more difficult task than it sounds. On a single entry point basis, it seems very manageable. However, marketers mailing nationally have to factor in production schedules, transportation partner transit times, transportation partner dispatch schedules to USPS entry points, and presort qualifications. Despite these variables, national marketers now expect fairly similar in-home delivery curves, regardless of the drop date. The five-day proposal would dramatically change all that.
The national marketers’ management and planning to implement the five-day proposal’s changes, without inadvertently increasing their own costs, will require a shift for many from a mail date/drop date orientation to an in-home delivery window orientation. If marketers don’t change their focus to in-home delivery window, they can expect more peaks and valleys in call center traffic resulting in staffing issues or abandoned calls. Retailers can expect to hear more complaints from individual stores where patrons may not have received the sale mailer before the sale.
Adjustments Are Possible
The good news is that the USPS has provided IWCO Direct with data and information tools that will allow us to help you navigate the uncharted waters of a five-day delivery environment. Using tools such as OneCode CONFIRM and Intelligent Mail Full Service would help us monitor and measure performance according to plan and make the necessary adjustments to our planning process.
It is still uncertain if five-day delivery will be adopted, but it’s important to be aware of this possible change in orientation, rather than be caught off guard. Stayed tuned for future articles that examine postal issues that impact your direct marketing plans.
– Bob Rosser
Director – Postal Affairs, Products and Services
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