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Postal Alert: More Changes Around the Corner

December 11, 2013 By Jeffery Peoples, Founder and CEO, Window Book
CAMBRIDGE, MA—December 11, 2013—By now you have probably heard about the recent announcement from the United States Postal Service (USPS) about deferring the requirement to use Intelligent Mail Full-service to qualify for automation prices on January 26, 2014. You must also be wondering whether Full-service will become a requirement in the near future. USPS and Industry associations recommend that rather than slowing down or stopping any Full-service implementation efforts, you should continue to move to Full-service. It is too early to tell when there will be a new Full-service requirement for automation rates, but the USPS has a number of other options to get the industry to meet most of Full-service’s requirements.

The Intelligent Mail Full-service implementation date has been delayed. So, you think you can relax now, right? 

No, it may be far more important for you to implement Full-service now than it was before!

Full-service mail has better visibility to the USPS and is frequently given priority handling since that is how the USPS measures processing performance. A Full-service mandate would have “leveled the playing field” for all mailers but without a mandate, ONLY Full-service mailers enjoy faster and more reliable processing and delivery without having to pay extra. Not only do they not pay extra for this improved service, they even get a small discount!

But, Full-service was really never about that discount in the first place, it was about adding value to mail by providing better visibility. Many mailers and mail owners are getting Full-service IMb Tracing and ACS data and using it to improve the effectiveness and value of their mail. This data has spawned a whole industry to make this data actionable and almost as important as the mail itself. So, Full-service mail service providers have a significant advantage over those who don’t mail under Full-service. More and more mail owners are discovering this every day putting non-Full-service mail service providers at a competitive disadvantage.

If you don’t mail under Full-service can you avoid having to do all of the things required of Full-service mailers?

Not likely for much longer. The USPS should be able to require mailers to meet many of the original Full-service requirements without actually forcing them to mail under Full-service. 

The three major requirements of Full-service are unique piece and container barcoding, submitting eDoc for mailings over 10,000 pieces, and identifying yourself and your clients in your eDoc (by/for). 

Unique barcode identification of trays and pallets. You will soon have to do this for trays anyway since the 10-digit tray tag will soon be retired. You already have to do this for trays that will be copalletized. Don’t be surprised if unique pallet barcoding pops up as a requirement for pallet placards on all drop shipped mail. With most presort programs, this is a matter of doing a simple configuration change. If not, some (not all) post-presort software can handle this for you and print your tags and placards as well.

Unique barcode identification of mail pieces. If you or your clients are using IMb Tracing or ACS, you are most likely already doing this. If not, many presort programs make this surprisingly easy. There are also exemptions for certain small mailings.

Submitting eDoc for mailings over 10,000 pieces. You already have to do that if you want to copalletize your trays. Some large mailers have been doing eDoc for over 15 years. Why? Because once you get the hang of it, it is way more efficient than presenting paper postage statements or entering data into the Postage Statement Wizard. Don’t be too surprised to see this pop up as a requirement for a larger number of mailings. You may have been one of the businesses that waited too long to use the Internet in your business—now you can’t live without it...Full-service offers the similar major advantages to operational efficiencies...Don’t wait.

By/For Identification of your clients. If you are a mail service provider mailing on your own permit and want your client’s name and address to print on your postage statement, you are already identifying your client (mail owner). How you will do this will change for eDoc, but once you get the information you need, this is not a super-difficult requirement to meet and you will still have to do it in order for your clients to qualify for USPS promotions. Exemptions still exist when there are fewer than 3,000 pieces present in a mailing for a single mail owner.

There are also other changes taking place this year which will make it important to implement eDoc and provide uniquely barcoded tray and pallet barcodes. In fact, once you go that far, you are not far away from meeting all Full-service requirements so you might as well “go all the way.”

eInduction—No more hard copies of PS 8125: If you drop ship, the eInduction program will help you save time by eliminating the need to print and round stamp PS 8125 clearance documents for most DSCF, DADC and DNDC drop ship entry points. This program provides a paperless induction method for validating container payments at the destination facilities. But, even if you are mailing under a DSMS agreement without 8125s, there is still an advantage of eInduction: faster trailer unloading and acceptance.

Currently, the program is rolling out nationally, but you have to submit eDoc and have unique “IMCb” barcodes on your pallet placards. If you are interested in this program, please contact me and we will assist you with more detailed information. eInduction can save mailers, logistics companies and the USPS a LOT of money, you owe it to yourself to take a good look at exactly what you may be missing. Adopt now, Full-service is too important to the USPS...it is not going away it will simply show up dressed a little differently.

Seamless Acceptance: This technology uses scanning at induction and by Mail Processing Equipment (MPE) to evaluate mail quality, payment, and address data. Physical piece sampling will also be added. It will cut way down on the cost of mail acceptance and verification to both mailers and the USPS but both Full Service and eInduction are prerequisites. These savings could allow the USPS to offer incentives to participate in Seamless Acceptance that may be more compelling than what is currently offered to mail under Full-service.

New Rates and Postage Statement, January 26, 2014: You will need to update your software with the new price changes to be able to generate accurate postage statements and mailing documentation. Will these rates reflect just the CPI index increase or those plus the Exigent Rate Case? Time will tell.

New Mail.dat 14-1, January 26, 2014: Your software will need to be updated with the updated Mail.dat specification in order for you to be able to properly upload files to PostalOne! and exchange files with your partners. A number of types of mail including Standard and BPM flats and many First-Class mailings which include Single Piece Rate mail will require that mailers switch to 14-1 on January 26th!

Intelligent Mail Full-service: Though the mandate for mailers to continue receiving postage automation discounts has been delayed to a future date, there is little point in avoiding the inevitable since you will have to comply with most of the Full Service requirements sooner than later.

Source: Window Book.
 

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