There is an intersting look at Intelligent Mail in today’s Washington Post here. The ironic title of the article is “Postal Service Sees Simplicity in 31 Digits”. A couple of items in the article jumped out at me, (after the Simplicity part, that is) the first being:
“Big bucks are riding on the bar code. The nation’s business mailers qualify for less-expensive mail rates if they bundle their letters, packages and magazines in ways that reduce sorting and delivery time for the post office. Bar codes are the key to getting the discounted postage rates, currently valued at about $18 billion.”
At this time, no discounted postage rates have been attached to Intelligent Mail aside from those given for replacing the Post Net barcode with the new Intelligent Mail barcode. Further discount initiatives remain to be seen.
“Companies also will be given a chance to buy data collected by the post office that will give them insights into how customers respond to advertising and marketing.”
From what I have been hearing from within the mailing industry, I am not so sure the USPS will have a market for this data that they think will be a hot commodity.
“Although some commercial mailers sending letters, magazines and catalogues have been using the intelligent mail bar code for the last two years on a voluntary basis, the Postal Service intends to make the 31-digit code mandatory next January.”
There is nothing in the Federal Register notice that says the IM barcode will be MANDATORY. It will be necessary in order to get any former PostNet discounts. At this time, it is not going to be a requirment on any/all bulk mailings, and there will be different levels of service.
“Under current plans, large volume mailers, such as credit card companies, retailers and magazines, will send the Postal Service an electronic manifest, describing what they will be mailing. They also will make an electronic appointment, so the Postal Service knows which mail center will be getting the mass mailing and at what time.”
I find it very interesting here that none of the intitiatives are named – PostalOne! – FAST? And they are described in about as over-simplified terms as it gets.
The next few weeks will be a critical juncture for all things Intelligent Mail. Federal Register feedback will be collected through this Thursday (if you have not commented – it is IMPERATIVE that all individual mailers and mail consumers do so!) Visit our feedback page for some shortcuts to getting your voices heard. Once the feedback is collected by the Postal Service, we will be watching and waiting for their responses to the many, many questions regarding the simplicity of 31 digits.