If you drop ship mail to additional entry points, something that often causes confusion for mailers is the potential discrepancy between the ZIP code for the “logical entry point” vs. the ZIP code of the “physical entry point.” For example, the ZIP code on the destination line of pallet placards may not match the ZIP code of the postal facility where the mail is being entered. So, how exactly is a postal entry point identified, and how do mailers prepare their mail and postal documents for these entry points?
Back in June of this year, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) planned to implement an increase in the frequency of the updates to several critical destination data files; to monthly from the previous quarterly update schedule. Due to the postponement of the planned July 13, 2014 PostalOne! release to August 24, 2013, the USPS also decided to postpone implementing the monthly updates until September.
What you may NOT be aware of is that there have been some major issues over the last few weeks with the labeling list and drop ship data that USPS issued in June for July consumption.
The USPS recently provided an update to July’s labeling list and drop ship data that corrected these issues, but unfortunately another problem was found with the expire dates in the data. The USPS is aware of this situation and its urgency to the mailing industry. We are hopeful that the USPS will make the necessary corrections to these data files and get them posted for the mailing industry as soon as possible.
As soon as this data is fixed and an update is provided by the USPS, Window Book and other software vendors, will process it and make it available to software users. In the interim, you may receive automated notifications that the destination data files are getting ready to expire. Normally we would not encourage software users to ignore these alerts, but in this case there are no updated files to access until the USPS publishes the corrected data files.
Reason #212 to use our Automatic Postal Data Updates System
As you may have heard from us in the past, Window Book has an automated method to update all of these data files into your software. Once you have this FREE add-on tool installed with your DAT-MAIL software, you no longer have to remember to check for these data file updates, nor do you have to perform manual downloads because it will automatically be taken care of for you. No matter how many times the USPS updates the data – we always validate it before making it available. You can just set it and forget it!
One of the ways you can lower your postage costs while improving delivery service is to co-palletize your mail either in-house or through a logistics company. Tray-based Co-palletization, also known as “Co-Tray” mailing, supports deeper penetration into the postal system. Bypassing a number of postal processing steps allows you to benefit from greater postage discounts, better tracking and more consistent and timely delivery of your mailings.
Bypassing a number of postal processing steps allows you to benefit from greater postage discounts, better tracking and more consistent and timely delivery of your mailings
Have you ever wanted to drop ship your mail to additional entry points, but you just didn’t have enough volume to fill a truck or even enough to send to a consolidator? Did you ever wonder what to do with those last few residual sacks or trays from a larger mailing that you are drop shipping using your normal methods? Do you have pesky mail delivery complaints in certain areas of the country? How about wanting to improve the delivery time for your Standard Mail, but not being able to afford bumping it up to First-Class Mail®? If you have ever pondered any of these questions, Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) just might be the answer you’re looking for.
What is PMOD?
Priority Mail® Open and Distribute is a USPS® service offering that provides an alternate method of transporting drop-shipped mail. Rather than using traditional transport methods (truck, rail, airfreight, etc.) for drop shipping, this service allows mailers to use the expedited delivery service offered by Priority Express or Priority Mail to transport the smaller volume mail to additional postal entry points. Mailers can place their prepared mail sacks or trays into special PMOD sacks or tray boxes, and tag these sacks or tray boxes with special PMOD tags. These tags indicate to the USPS that the mail inside the sacks or tray boxes is drop ship mail, and that it needs to be opened and then distributed as it would normally be processed, hence the name “open and distribute.”
Why use PMOD?
Drop shipping mail can result in some nice postage discounts, or it can be an effective way to better control the in-home delivery time of mailings. But some mailings just don’t lend themselves to the more traditional methods of transporting drop-shipped mail from the original entry point to the destination entry post offices. Drop shipping traditionally involves the use of over-the-road or rail transportation to get the mail closer to the destination point. It works very well for many types of mailings, but smaller mailings make it tougher to take advantage of drop shipping benefits without paying high minimum charges to logistics providers. Since Priority Express has next day delivery service and Priority Mail has 2- to 3-day delivery service, PMOD can be a very quick way to transport the mail to the additional entry points. This is ideal for time-sensitive mail or for delivery trouble spots.
Uses for PMOD
Some typical users of PMOD are small volume mailers, who just do not consistently have enough mail volume to meet the minimum shipment requirements of most logistics providers. Another common use is a mailer sending time-sensitive mailings that just doesn’t have the budget for First-Class Mail prices. This type of mail can be prepared and paid for at Standard Mail prices, but using PMOD drop shipping can closely approximate the delivery service of First-Class Mail at a much lower price. Mailers who experience repetitive delivery delays to more remote areas, such as Alaska or Hawaii, often use PMOD for this mail to help improve delivery times. The same is true for Periodicals mail that encounters subscriber delivery complaints to certain geographic areas. Using PMOD for these cities can help eliminate those subscriber complaints. Even large mailings that use traditional drop ship methods use PMOD to handle those remaining few sacks or trays that would normally get entered at the origin.
The USPS provides many resources for PMOD information, including both Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail options. Window Book offers our DAT-MAIL™ post-presort software solution, with its PMOD export option, along with our Postal Package Partner™ solution to generate the special PMOD labels and tags. These solutions can make using this USPS service very quick and easy. We can even analyze your mailing files to determine how PMOD can benefit your mailing operation.
Window Book is here to help
Window Book is currently celebrating its 26th year helping clients manage their operations more profitably. Why should you talk to Window Book? Because we help you to: Streamline mail processes to reduce operational costs! Implement Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance to minimize the risk of downstream quality issues and be in a better position to defend your preparation processes. Grow with Emerging Technologies. Automate Your PostalOne! Submissions. Move to the Cloud to Optimize Your Operations. Use Your Data to Make More Money. Are you Keeping Up With Your Competition? Learn the KEY Shifts You Can Make… We Can Help YOU in Ways No Other Company Can! Call and talk with a Postal Expert Now
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced changes to the Labeling List data, effective January 1, 2014, with a mandatory use date of January 31, 2014. The Labeling Lists affected are L001, L002, L006, L007, L008, L012, L602, L605, and L606. Read more.
If you need assistance with the USPS FAST system, you can submit your issue via email to FAST@usps.com. Or, depending on the date, you can call one of the two numbers below:
- Prior to August 30, 2010 – call 1-800-522-9085
- After August 30, 2010 – call 1-877-569-6614
** If you are having any problems with your Customer/Supplier Agreements (CSAs) – you must log these issues with the FAST Help Desk via one of the methods listed above. **
Director, Postal Industry Practice
Window Book, Inc.
Phone: (617) 395-4569
This group was formed by the Mailers Technical Advisory Group (MTAC) to discuss and work through any FAST-related issues that were tabled and passed to it by MTAC 122 – as well as new issues that have come up since the announcement of this group forming. The first meeting was held this past week on Wednesday afternoon. If you are interested in joing this User Group, please contact the Industry Co-Chair Michelle Billman of ALG Worldwide Logistics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are a few highlights from that initial meeting:
There is a “patch release” (14.3.0) coming out on August 15 (FAST is trying to follow the overall PostalOne! release schedule.) Here is some helpful info from the latest DMM Advisory:
*** FAST Release 14.3.0 and Scheduled Outages (August 15-16, 2010): FAST® Release 14.3.0 will deploy to the production environment on Sunday, August 15, 2010. Updated release notes for FAST 14.3.0 are available on RIBBS>Site Index A-Z>FAST/Surface Visibility>Important Links>FAST Release Notes. The FAST production system will not be available from 4 a.m. through 8 a.m. (CDT) on Sunday, August 15, 2010.
FAST Release 14.3.0 will deploy to the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) on Monday, August 16, 2010. The FAST TEM system will not be available from 8 a.m. through 12 Noon (CDT) on Monday, August 16, 2010. ***
The pre-release notes available on RIBBS were updated to include information about the new Help Desk set up for FAST. The industry seems a bit hesitant (I’m being nice here) about how helpful this will be. They are concerned that if they have a truck full of mail at the dock that is not being accepted, they will more than likely still have to go through their current escalation routine to get the mail accepted as opposed to just calling the Help Desk for resolution. The USPS says those calls will route to a Manager on Duty at that facility. The problem there is that the normal escalation process inside the facility already includes contacting that manager, so that Help Desk routing could end up with a mailer saying “Hello Manager John – I need to complain about Manager John I was just talking to.” (Could be a touchy situation!)
Last discussion item was about the open issues handed off from MTAC 122 and how to open new issues moving forward. It was decided to table that until next meeting when Ed Wanta (USPS) would be on the call.
Window Book Completes FAST Web Services Testing for Mail.XML 6.0
Window Book is pleased to announce it has completed FAST Web Services Testing and been certified for Mail.XML 6.0 including Connectivity Testing with PostalOne! and Verification Testing with FAST. Mailers can now use Window Book’s DAT-MAIL and Post Master mailing software to submit appointments in the FAST Production environment using Mail.XML 6.0 Web Services.
FAST currently uses Mail.XML 6.0 facilitate scheduling Drop Ship Destination entry and Origin mail appointments online with the USPS®. FAST enables mailers to create/update/cancel appointments easily via PostalOne! System. It is designed to help mailers save time and benefit from improved induction process and receive automatic tracking of appointments.
“Using DAT-MAIL with Mail.XML 6.0 for making FAST appointments for your drop shipping is a smart way for many mailers to use Intelligent Mail Full Service,” said Jeffery Peoples, Window Book’s CEO.
About Window Book:
Window Book has helped clients manage their operations more profitably since 1989. A leader in mailing and shipping software for Lettershops, Corporate Mailers, Service Bureaus, and Mail Owners. Window Book’s best-in-class postal solutions include: Intelligent Mail Full Service, PostalOne!, eDocs, Mail.dat®, Mail.XML, FAST, Bound Printed Matter, post-presort data management, entry planning, drop shipping, postage accounting, postal documentation & statements, meter and stamp management, Express Mail and Priority Mail Open and Distribute, New Commercial Plus rates, eVS, delivery confirmation, and manifesting shipping system.
Window Book, Inc.
Priority Mail Open and Distribute Made Easy
Back when I was in the printing business, I used to cringe whenever a client brought up the possibility of using Priority Mail Drop Shipping for distribution of their mail. As printing companies, we did not often recommend this delivery option to clients because it was, quite frankly, a real pain to implement. Luckily, that is no longer the case, due to true innovations in mailing and shipping software. For some mailers, Priority Mail Drop Shipping is a well-kept secret that they are not aware of, and as a result they are missing out on some great opportunities to improve delivery and reduce costs.
For those of you not familiar with this service, it is technically termed Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) by the United States Postal Service® (USPS). It is a method of drop shipping mail to additional postal entry points using Priority Mail as the shipping method rather than more traditional methods such as truckload, less-than-load (LTL) or air freight. The same service is available using Express Mail Open and Distribute (EMOD), although it is more expensive due to the quicker delivery time (next day service).
Regardless of which level of service is used, Open and Distribute is a pretty nifty way to drop ship to entry points with smaller volumes of mail which make the more traditional shipping methods cost prohibitive. It works by entering the mailpieces at their normal postage prices (e.g. Periodicals, Standard, etc.) and then placing those trays or sacks of mail into Priority Mail sacks for delivery to the postal entry point. By use of special sack tags, these Priority Mail sacks are identified to the USPS as containing drop shipped mail, which the USPS then opens and distributes the sacks inside as they would normally be routed. The Priority Mail postage is paid on the weight of the mail inside the PM sack (and tare weight of the sacks/trays inside the PM sack), and essentially replaces the shipping charges that would have been charged by freight carriers if the more traditional shipping methods had been used.
In years past, this process was a real pain because this mail had to be manually separated, manually tagged with the PMOD tags, and postage statements were manually generated. Now, however, there are software solutions that allow these functions to be automated to the point that it is much more time and cost effective to use PMOD.
How can mailers take advantage of PMOD? There are three major benefits to using PMOD:
1) If you are experiencing delivery delays to remote or distant locations (e.g. Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico), or any location for that matter, PMOD can be a great way to shorten the delivery time. Priority Mail has delivery standards of 2-3 days, so the mail gets entered into the postal entry points much more quickly than if the mail was locally entered at the printing plant or letter shop.
- 2) You can take advantage of drop ship discounts even for entry points with low mailing densities, such as Butte, MT or Fargo, ND.
- 3) You can mail at the less expensive Standard rates, but get very close to First-Class delivery standards if you use PMOD to drop ship to additional entry points.
Your mailings can be easily analyzed to determine whether PMOD will be beneficial for you to use. Using a mail.dat file, you can process this file through post-presort mail.dat management software in a “quick plan” mode. This will allow you to see all the possible drop ship entry points for which your mailing would qualify. You can then go a step further by applying freight charges to the entry points with significant mail volumes. Any entry points with small volumes can then be exported into PMOD software to determine the estimated cost of PMOD shipping.
If you do not have post-presort mail.dat management software, you can ask your printer/mailer to perform these analyses for you, or you can contact a provider of this type of software to request a demo or trial of the software. If you have been hesitant to use PMOD in the past due to implementation concerns, or if you are completely new to PMOD, you owe it to yourself and your company to check out the possibilities of this great USPS program.