PRC Approved – The USPS Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion

On August 7, 2012, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved the USPS™ 2012 Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion, which is scheduled to run from November 7 to November 21, 2012, with registration beginning September 15. The holiday promotion is designed to spur mobile purchasing by putting mobile-optimized promotional offers, coupons and catalogs into customers’ hands in time for “Black Friday/Cyber Monday” shopping sprees.

 The Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion will provide business mailers with an upfront 2 percent postage discount on Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats and cards (presort and automation) that include a mobile barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device. The technology must lead the recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website that allows him or her to purchase an advertised product on the mobile device (the sale of services does not qualify).

 Mailers may also qualify for an additional 1 percent rebate on the postage of their qualifying mailings if a portion of their orders are fulfilled via Priority Mail® between November 9 and December 31, 2012. 

 The Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion Program Requirements describe the rules in further detail and can be downloaded from RIBBS at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mobilebarcode.

 Contact mobilebarcode@usps.gov with any further questions about this program.

 

MSP Registration Now Open for Mobile Commerce Promo

This summer’s USPS Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion provides business mailers with an upfront 2% postage discount on qualifying First-Class and Standard Mail letters, flats, and cards with a 2-dimensional barcode that can be read or scanned with a mobile device. The mobile barcode must direct the recipient to either a mobile-optimized purchasing site or a mobile- optimized and personalized web page/URL (PURL) that is tailored to an individual. For program information, go to https://www.usps.com/mobile-barcode.htm.

Registration began May 1 for mailers and started June 10 for mail service providers (MSPs). If you are an MSP and registered prior to June 10, but wish to use the eDoc enrollment feature, you will need to log on to the Business Customer Gateway (BCG)/Incentive Programs before the promotion start date of July 1, 2012 to identify yourself as a Mail Service Provider. If you are an MSP and will submit your own mailings (in addition to mailings for other customers) you must also select the MSP designation after June 10.

The promotion runs July 1 through August 31, 2012. Registration will remain open through August 30 and must be completed in advance of mailing.

An MSP Incentive Programs Guide is available for download on RIBBS using the following link: https://ribbs.usps.gov/mobilebarcode/documents/tech_guides/MSPIncentiveProgramsEnrollmentGuideV2.pdf

PostalOne! Release Information

Reminder: PostalOne!® Release 31.0.0 Deployment — will require an extended maintenance window to complete all software updates. There will be a PostalOne!® outage from 8 p.m., Saturday, June 9, 2012, through 9 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 10, 2012. A mandatory Mail.dat® client download will be available immediately following the software update.

 Reminder: PostalOne! Release 31.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) — will occur on Monday, June 11, 2012, and PostalOne! TEM will be unavailable from 4 a.m. through 4 p.m. CDT.

  FAST® Release 21.0 Deployment: The FAST® production system will not be available on Sunday, June 10, 2012, from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. CDT. During this time, theFAST On-line application andFAST Web Services will not be available.

 FASTRelease 21.0 will deploy to TEM on Monday, June 11, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon CDT. During this time, theFASTOn-Line application andFASTWeb Services will not be available.

USPS Delays eDoc Penalties

On Friday 12/17/2010, the USPS announced they will be delaying the implementation of the eDoc penalties that could cost mailers additional money should their eDoc not be in full compliance with PostalOne! and Seamless Acceptance standards.  Here are the specific items that the USPS planned to be checking for in January:

  • Invalid mail preparer/mail owner (“By/For”) information
  • Errors in Customer/Supplier Agreements (CSA’s)
  • Invalid Mailer IDs
  • Invalid Service Type Identifiers
  • Non-unique mailpiece, handling unit, or container barcodes

Read below the letter from Steve Kearney of the USPS to the Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee:

Letter to MTAC from MTAC Co-Chair

Dear MTACers:

We are delaying Full-Service eDoc postage corrections, which we had planned to deploy on January 2, 2011, to give mailers more time to use information from a new report to help correct errors in their electronic documentation.

The new publication — PostalOne!® Full-Service Error report — allows eDoc submitters to review the quality of submissions, identify jobs with errors, and calculate the correct postage. This report also allows the eDoc submitter to request reconciliation of identified errors. 

We encourage mailers to take advantage of the reconciliation process and use the feedback to correct Full-Service eDoc issues.

In addition, enhancements to the MicroStrategy Mail Data Quality reports provide detailed information on piece counts and postage amounts for pieces that are not compliant with Full-Service requirements.

Mailers have begun using these two reports — MicroStrategy Mail Data Quality and Full-Service Error — to assess the quality of their eDoc. We are continuing to work through the MTAC 137 group to address mailers’ concerns.

Please be sure to utilize the MicroStrategy Mail Data Quality reports and the PostalOne! Full-Service Error reports. Also, tell us about any issues you have with the PostalOne! help desk, 800-522-9085.

Best regards,

Steve Kearney
MTAC Co-Chair
U.S. Postal Service

eDoc Verification Begins Soon!

Full-Service eDoc Verification and Assessment

The November 2010 PostalOne! release will introduce a process for the evaluation of eDoc for Intelligent Mail Full-Service mailings. The process will evaluate Full-Service eDoc for:

  • Invalid Mailer ID
  • Invalid Service Type ID
  • Incorrect By/For information
  • Incorrect Customer/Supplier Agreement (CSA) information
  • Non-unique barcodes

On January 2, 2011, these errors will result in the loss of Full-Service discounts. Mailers should use the feedback to correct errors found during Full-Service verification prior to implementation of the Full-Service Discount Removal on January 2, 2011. Additional information can be found on RIBBS in the PostalOne! Release 25.0 release notes.

Full-Service Feedback Webinars:

The next USPS Full-Service Feedback webinar will be broadcast on Thursday, October 28 at 3 p.m. (EDT). This webinar explains the eDoc Verification process and Mail Data Quality reports. Log in information on the Webinars is posted on RIBBS® under Intelligent Mail Latest News.

As always, if you have questions about this information, please feel free to contact me or anyone here at Window Book.

Wallace Vingelis

Director, Postal Industry Practice

Window Book, Inc.                

Phone:  (617) 395-4569

email:    wvingelis@windowbook.com

Tell Us What You Think

With the recent publication of our latest white paper – “Intelligent Mail Full-Service:  Critical Steps to Understanding and Implementing” – we want to hear from you. 

Take this opportunity to comment, question, disagree – whatever you want – but do it here.  Reply to this blog post.  Let us know how we did. 

Wallace Vingelis

Director, Postal Industry Practice

Window Book, Inc.                

Phone:  (617) 395-4569

email:    wvingelis@windowbook.com

Window Book Publishes New White Paper “Intelligent Mail Full-Service: Critical Steps to Understanding and Implementing”

In our ongoing efforts to educate mailers and the postal industry as a whole about critical changes happening with the USPS, we are publishing an informative, 29-page white paper titled, “Intelligent Mail Full-Service: Critical Steps to Understanding and Implementing”.

The Postal Team here at Window Book believes that in this white paper you’ll discover:

  • What’s going on in the Postal industry
  • The differences between the Full-Service and Basic options
  • What Full-Service will do for you (It’s not just about the discounts!)
  • The 3 ways to participate in the USPS PostalOne! System  
  • What steps you need to take, and in which order, to get going with IM Full-Service
  • And much, much more!

Click here to download your free copy of Intelligent Mail Full-Service: Critical Steps to Understanding and Implementing.

 

Wallace Vingelis

Director, Postal Industry Practice

Window Book, Inc.                

Phone:  (617) 395-4569

email:    wvingelis@windowbook.com

MTAC 135 Makes Progress on D&R Tags

There was a meeting of the MTAC 135 Workgroup today to discuss the feedback from USPS Engineering on the D&R (Dispatch & Routing) tags. (rewind a few weeks –> mailers had requested some additional white space be allocated on the D&R tags to allow them some room for “mailer information” – Engineering’s first response was “no – we don’t see a business reason for it” – the industry said “it’s not YOUR business need – it’s OURS” -> fast forward to now)  Engineering now says they can accommodate either a longer or wider tag, but the industry has to make a decision on which because it can’t support both.  When that decision is made by the industry, Engineering will work on and publish specs detailing where the mailer info white-space is.  (btw, rumor has it than an internal USPS mock-up document showed the mailer info at the bottom of the tag)

The USPS will first contact the tag and print vendors to see what they can support (longer or wider or either) – then they will survey the mailers.  More info to follow as it becomes available.

A meeting attendee asked if the USPS will change THEIR stock to accommodate the new sized tags (when in use) to fully cover the mailer’s tag if there is the need for an “overlay”.

The USPS responded that they will need to look into how to accomodate this – just as the industry will – and they will let us know.

 

Wallace Vingelis

Director, Postal Industry Practice

Window Book, Inc.                

Phone:  (617) 395-4569

email:    wvingelis@windowbook.com

Intelligent Mail®: More Than Just A Barcode

 

If you have been working on integrating Intelligent Mail (IM) your mailing processes, you already know that there is much more to this program than just a new barcode. In fact, printing the barcode may be the least complex part of the whole integration!

 

If you are just getting started with IM, or have not yet begun, you really ought to devote some time and planning to your integration process. If you think you can just ignore it, hoping it will all go away, think again. The United States Postal Service® (USPS) has invested millions of dollars in the IM program, and it really is the next generation of technology for mailing. Mailers who do not embrace this new technology will find themselves left out in the cold; unable to participate in the latest postal initiatives. Before you pooh-pooh the whole idea as not worthy of any investment in time or resources, consider the following:

 

The USPS is implementing a postal discount for mailers using IM, effective November 29, 2009. While the discounts don’t sound like much ($.003 per piece for First-Class and $.001 for Standard, Periodicals and Package Services mail), these small amounts can add up quickly for large volume mailers. This initial discount is only the beginning; at some point in the future, many discounts will be tied to the use of IM.

 

Use of IM allows you to take advantage of a number of mail tracking options. You can track individual pieces of mail or just containers of mail. This information can be extremely valuable to better pinpoint delivery dates of mail. This can help you or your clients in any number of ways:

  • Timing your direct mail message to related television, radio, newspaper or internet marketing messages.
  • Planning your staffing and other resources in call centers, product warehouses, shipping centers, retail stores, or internet sites.
  • Longer term analysis of direct marketing efforts to pinpoint the most successful times of the year, days of the week, etc.

IM also allows you to have proof that your mail has entered the postal stream and more importantly, you can track it through the USPS processing chain.

 

For mail service providers, if you don’t offer IM, your competitors will! Most businesses can’t afford to lose work for any reason, and never has that been truer than in this challenging economy. Before you dismiss IM as being too costly or time consuming to implement, consider the potential cost of lost revenue if you delay implementation or elect not to do so at all. IM is a critical part of just staying in the game at this point, so make sure you take this into account in your financial analysis.

 

IM helps improve address accuracy. With Full Service IM, mailers receive free ACS (Address Change Service). This service, which currently has a price of $.26 per correction, is FREE with Full Service IM and can provide up-to-date address information for your customers and prospects who have moved. Moreover, this service also provides helpful error codes on addresses which may not involve a move but may not be entirely accurate for postal delivery purposes. Keeping addresses current and accurate not only saves postage, but helps you stay in contact with your customers.

 

IM helps streamline mailing processes and reduce paperwork. Part of the USPS cost savings of the IM program comes from the requirement to submit electronic documentation via the internet. This cost savings accrues to mailers as well, in reduced costs for printers, paper, toner, etc. and reduced administrative costs of processing and storing all the hard copy documentation. This can also result in reduced amounts of time to process and present mail to the USPS and reduced time for mail verification and acceptance by the USPS.

 

If you are still procrastinating on integration of IM, don’t be afraid. There is plenty of help available. The USPS has numerous online guides and other information available, including recorded tutorials. Many of your suppliers, such as software vendors, logistics suppliers, mailing equipment manufacturers, etc. can offer all kinds of assistance and educational materials. Mailing and other industry associations can also provide a wealth of information. You need look no further than your local Postal Customer Council (PCC) for help and interaction with other mailers in your area who are also implementing IM.

 

The November 29 implementation date for IM discounts is just around the corner. The full impact of IM will go far beyond that date however, and the sooner you get on board, the sooner you can take advantage of the many benefits of IM. Don’t delay!

Monica Lundquist, Postal Affairs Manager, Window Book, Inc.

Proof of Mailing: Say Goodbye to the Red Round Stamp, Monica Lundquist, Postal Affairs, Window Book, Inc.

 

Proof of Mailing: Say Goodbye to the Red Round Stamp

As the United States Postal Service® (USPS) and the mailing industry are busy with the integration of Intelligent Mail® (IM), one item of particular concern to the ultimate postage payer seems to have fallen by the wayside. That item is the official proof that the mail has been accepted and paid for. For years, postage payers of bulk mailings have relied upon the red round dated stamp on the postage statements or other USPS documents as proof of mailing. That red round stamp still exists today, but be prepared for it to fade into the sunset soon.

Why is the red round stamp disappearing? It is due to the increasing use of electronic documentation (e-docs) rather than hard copy documents. With Intelligent Mail Full Service, use of e-docs is required, which will eliminate the ability for postal clerks to apply the red round stamp to hard copy postage statements. What then, is to be used to provide proof of mailing?

The USPS does provide for an electronic receipt file once postage statements have been processed through PostalOne!, however these receipts do not contain any detailed information about the mailing. These receipts can be obtained either individually or in batch mode, but in either case, it requires an active effort by the mailer or postage payer to obtain these receipt files. This does not sound like a big deal unless you are a large volume mailer, or a mail preparer who processes mail for numerous clients. This change in USPS process creates the need for a new mailers process that is not required when hard copy statements are used.

Moreover, since the receipts are not attached in any way to the postage statements  themselves, it also creates an additional process of reconciling the receipt file to the postage statements. There are USPS statement numbers, register numbers, and mailing group ID numbers on both documents for purposes of reconciliation, but this would be a manual process. Also of concern is that it is not clear how long this receipt information will remain on the PostalOne! site, so access after the fact may prove to be troublesome.

Inevitably, software developers and other mailing process suppliers will create more automated means to obtain and reconcile this information, likely even including an electronic facsimile of the old red round date stamp. However, these methods will vary depending on the supplier, so postage payers who do business with multiple mail preparers will be faced with a variety of representations of the USPS proof of mailing.

The mailing industry has been calling for the USPS to respond to this issue by asking them to provide a more automated, easy to use proof of mailing. The USPS has not been very responsive to this request, mostly because they have their hands full implementing other more critical components of IM and because their budgets do not allow for additional programming to accomplish this.

As a result, postage payers and mail preparers need to be made aware of this issue and prepare for it. You should be working with your postal contacts and mailing associations to raise the awareness of this problem with the USPS. You should also be planning for the worst-case scenario, which is that the USPS will not be able to provide an automated solution anytime soon. In this case, you need to work with your software developers to come up with some workable interim solutions. You will also need to be prepared to handle these additional processes and to educate your staff and clients as to the interim solution.

We all can agree that hard copy postal documents need to be eliminated and replaced with electronic documents. However, this should not be done at the price of creating additional work for postage payers. Only by making your voices heard through your mailing associations, and by making plans in advance of IM implementation will you make yourself prepared for this change in USPS processes.

Monica Lundquist, Postal Affairs, Window Book, Inc.