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Special Section Mailing & Fulfillment -- Leveraging Your Maili

November 2004
By Mary Ann Bennett

Mail since the 1990's and into the foreseeable future can be likened to a stool supported by three legs. The three legs are the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the mailing industry and software. Remove any one of the legs and the stool cannot stand. Conversely, any one of the three legs could not exist without both of the other legs.

* The mailers of the mailing industry would have no method of getting their mailpieces delivered to intended recipients without the USPS. Mailers cannot produce quantities of mail in today's technologically advanced world without software.

* Software developers that produce mailing software for PCs, mini or mainframe computers that drive high-speed mailing equipment and perform numerous processes that meet USPS requirements would have no reason to exist if the mailing industry did not have a need for their products.

* The USPS cannot process and deliver mailings utilizing its automated equipment without the mailers of the mailing industry providing them with automation-compatible mailings produced by mailing software that meets USPS requirements.

The illustration shows a stool with three legs of equal length. Most members of the mailing industry have a far different view of what the actual leg lengths are. Some mailers think that software vendors have the longest leg and that they (mailers) have the shortest. Other mailers believe that they have the longest leg and that they are in control of what drives the industry.

I believe that the USPS has the longest leg, software vendors are second and the shortest leg belongs to the mailing industry. That needs to change and it can change.

Historically, those in the mailing industry have seldom experienced the luxury of being able to be proactive in their dealings with the USPS. Unfortunately, the vast majority of industry mailers have traditionally been in a reactive position, paying higher postage rates and meeting new and ever-changing requirements from the USPS.

Truth be known, software developers are in the same position and have been since the early 1990's. They, too, seldom have the luxury of being proactive in developing enhancements and features in their software that they believe the mailing industry could really utilize (and purchase) because they are continually reacting to changes in sorts, rules, rates and certifications that come from the USPS. All of these processes have become more and more complex and cumbersome as the last decade evolved.

In the late 1980's there were basically three discounts that mailers could claim when preparing a mailing. Three digit, five digit and carrier route. Marking of bundles consisted of a green three, a red D or the occasional MS (mixed state) sticker. Remember the blessedly simple days when the mailing statement was accompanied by a handwritten listing of carrier route counts? That was all the mailer needed to claim the deepest postage discounts. In 2004, there are more than 3,000 discounts available from the USPS and nothing handwritten is acceptable.


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