This year’s National Postal Forum was one of the busiest in years, with more than 3,500 mailing industry professionals in attendance. In fact, so much information was shared that we’re breaking our recap into two parts, so be sure to come back tomorrow for the rest of our report.
As we move forward, mailers will see participation in Full-Service Intelligent Mail becoming the “table stakes” to participate in more and more USPS programs and initiatives, such as this summer’s Mobile Barcode promotion. If you aren’t already participating in Full-Service be sure to ask your IWCO Direct sales executive or account manager how to upgrade your next program.
Mail Tracking and Visibility
The Postal Service is phasing out Confirm tracking of Planet coded mailpieces and replacing it with “IMb Tracing” – available for all mailpieces carrying an Intelligent Mail barcode, both Full-Service and Basic. In addition, mailers have now been given visibility to tray and pallet scans for Full-Service mail as it moves through the postal network. The Postal Service is using this new scan data internally to monitor mail in its processing plants. This will enhance operational performance by proactively alerting plant managers to mail in their facilities that’s in danger of missing service commitments.
The Postal Service also demonstrated additional visibility technologies that could further enhance mail’s value in the multi-channel media mix when capturing some of the GPS and geo-fencing capabilities with new scanners currently being tested by letter carriers. This technology could supply near real time delivery information that could become available to mailers within a few years.
Enhancing the Mailing Process
The new data that is available with Full-Service mail is also being used to simplify and enhance the mailing process. The Postal Service is currently piloting a process called eInduction that will remove the paper-based verification requirements from the drop-ship process and manage the verification through barcode scanning and database look-ups.
eInduction is one small piece of a larger initiative called Streamlined (Seamless) Acceptance that will add efficiency and speed to the mail acceptance process. Rather than having mail physically verified in the manufacturing plant by a USPS clerk, mailers will submit electronic documentation for the mailing. Then the mailing’s conformance to the documentation and postal regulations will be confirmed through passive scanning as the mail moves through the USPS processing network. IWCO Direct’s Hamburg, Pa. facility is currently participating in a proof-of-concept pilot for this new program.
Simplifying Postage Payment
The enhanced information provided by Full-Service IMb is also driving new postage payment options. Called “Mail Anywhere – Pay Anywhere,” this program will allow Full-Service mailers to use a single permit to mail anywhere in the country. Mailers will no longer need to worry about the indicia calling out a permit number in “City A” when the mail needs to be dropped in “City B.” Mailers with CAPS accounts will use their existing CAPS account number as their national account in the electronic documentation for the mailing. A unique account number will be assigned for mailers without CAPS accounts. The pilot program for this concept launched in April, but the Postal Service hopes to fast-track its introduction to all mailers by early summer.
This is the first step toward a larger initiative by the Postal Service called “Enterprise Payment” that will be like CAPS accounts on steroids. Under Enterprise Payment, mailers will have one national account from which they can manage all their payments. Currently CAPS accounts can only be used for paying permit postage and fees. An enterprise account could also be used for stamp and meter postage, Express Mail and other USPS-related payments. Planning is just beginning for Enterprise Payment and development won’t begin until sometime in 2013.
That’s quite a bit to digest for one blog article, so we’ll take a break for today and come back tomorrow with more details that will shape the business of direct mail in the coming months and years.
Marketing Services Manager
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