Achieving Discounts -- New Numbers, Same Advice
In this year’s rate changes, mail owners and preparers again can see that, over the years, presort has become a fundamental part of commercial mail production and really no longer is an option. In fact, all commercial rate mail (including all Periodical and Standard Mail) must be presorted, even to qualify for those rates.
However, the strategies for optimizing presort discounts in May 2009 will be essentially the same as they were in 1976: Sort as much mail as possible to the finest extent possible. But that’s the easy part, especially with presort software that guides mail preparation and generates any necessary postal reports. The hard part is accumulating the volume; volume enables density, and density is key to optimizing presort. It’s much more difficult to develop density (and optimize presort) with 10,000 pieces distributed nationwide, than with 10,000 pieces going to a single city.
Therefore, to the extent feasible, mail owners should avoid segmenting lists into individually submitted mailings, and should consider timing their mailings to allow aggregation of volume. Even if a mailing consists of a series of short-run batches, commercial mailers have the ability to combine these to generate greater density and, as a result, earn better discounts.
Sortation remains focused on the primary nodes of the postal network—the processing and distribution centers—which are identified as 3-digit, ADC, or AADC facilities on postal sortation instructions. Whether mail is moving from, through, or to these facilities, finer presort (by 3-digit or 5-digit ZIP Code) remains of value, as it often allows a plant to move the mail directly to the processing equipment “schemed” to work it.
Carrier route sortation, and finer preparation forms like walk-sequence, usually earn the deepest discounts, but those are gradually losing their function and value as the USPS grows its equipment’s capacity to ingest huge quantities of mail, sorted only to five or even three digits, and output walk-sequenced mail for carrier routes throughout a plant’s service area.