Participating in USPS Promotions

As we have mentioned earlier, the USPS is offering six promotion programs for calendar year 2017; these promotions offer postage discounts for eligible mailings. Virtually all of the USPS Promotions and Incentives programs require that mailings be submitted electronically into PostalOne!. This requirement (along with other requirements) means that we often get questions from mailers regarding what specific data needs to be in the Mail.dat® files to claim the incentives, or, how to troubleshoot issues when submitting these files to PostalOne.

Read more: https://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Managing Barcode Uniqueness on Trays, Sacks, and Pallets

As mailers prepare for the USPS® postage assessments that begin in November, one of the areas that mailers may struggle with is the uniqueness of the Intelligent Mail® barcodes on the tags for trays, sacks and pallets. Managing the uniqueness for these barcodes can be a challenge, particularly if you have a number of different mail processing workflows. The key is to remember that the barcodes must maintain uniqueness for a period of at least 45 days after the mailing date, and that each and every method you use for generating these barcodes needs to be included in your uniqueness management process.

Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

MIDs, CRIDs and NPAs

Doesn’t it seem like we need a glossary to keep track of all the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) abbreviations and acronyms? Just when you think you are up to speed on all the acronyms, new ones appear. This week’s topic is not about any new acronyms, but it is about some really, really critical ones – especially with the postage assessments being implemented coming up in October.

Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

MIDs and CRIDs

As more mailers submit their mailings electronically to PostalOne!® and access their Mailer Scorecard feedback from the Business Customer Gateway, the importance of using the correct Mailer ID’s (MIDs) and Customer Registration ID’s (CRIDs) becomes paramount. Let’s explore just what these ID numbers are and how they are used.

Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Intelligent Mail®: Understanding MID’s and CRID’s

 

Anyone who works with the United States Postal Service® (USPS) knows their penchant for using acronyms, and the Intelligent Mail (IM) program is no different. One of the areas that causes confusion for mailers is the registration for and use of Mailer Identification numbers (MID’s) and Customer Registration Identification numbers (CRID’s).

 

The Mailer ID is a numeric identification number which is used by the USPS to identify a mail owner or mailing agent. The MID must be included in the IM barcode and in the electronic files and documents that are submitted to the USPS for IM. The MID is either a 6-digit number or a 9-digit number, based on historical mail volume or the need to maintain the 45-day uniqueness requirement. For example, mailers can manage the 45-day uniqueness requirement for 1 million pieces of mail using a 9-digit MID (9-digit MID’s allow for 6-digit serial numbers in the barcode), whereas it can be managed for 10 million pieces with a 6-digit MID (6-digit MID’s allow for 9-digit serial numbers in the barcode). Alternatively, multiple 9-digit MID’s can be assigned for increments of 1 million pieces as another method of managing the uniqueness requirement.

 

The Customer Registration ID is also a numeric identification number (up to 15 digits) which is used to uniquely identify a USPS customer at a location. Essentially it identifies the various physical locations of customers. For example, if a USPS customer has five different mailing facilities, they will be assigned five CRID’s, one for each physical location. The CRID’s are used in the electronic files and documents for IM, but are NOT included in the IM barcode.

 

These MID’s and CRID’s may be applied for using the Business Customer Gateway. Mailers should allow for 2 to 5 days for this application process. There are some situations which may require that these applications be made manually using hard copy forms; if applicable this will be specified on the Business Customer Gateway.

 

As part of the IM program, the various participants in a mailing are uniquely identified using these MID’s and CRID’s in the electronic files and documents, and also by specifying the relationship between the various participants. This is known as the “By/For” relationship.

For example, a mailing may involve a mail owner, a mail preparer, and a logistics provider. The mail owner designs the mailpiece and pays the postage, the mailing is printed, sorted and mailed BY the mail preparer FOR the mail owner, and the mail is transported and drop ship appointments are made BY the logistics provider FOR the mail owner to drop ship entry points. Since each of these participants is involved with some portion of the electronic transactions with the USPS for the mailing, they must all be identified.

 

Every mailer has their own unique needs, so it is important that mail owners work with mail service providers to determine which MID to use for the barcodes, and to correctly assign the BY/FOR relationships. In addition, delegation of data can also be done using what is called “Cast of Characters.” For example, if a mail owner utilizes a fulfillment bureau to handle their address corrections from the USPS, the mail owner can delegate the receipt of the Address Change Service (ACSTM) data to this fulfillment bureau.

 

The real key is to map out your process flow for your mailings, including all of your service providers. You can then use this information, along with mail volumes and frequencies, to help manage the uniqueness and to properly register for and utilize the appropriate MID’s and CRID’s.

 

The USPS has numerous guides and checklists available on their Rapid Information Bulletin Board Site (RIBBSTM), and has recently added a PowerPoint presentation specifically explaining MID’s and CRID’s. Mailers should access these resources and devote some time to reading and understanding these documents. Although this may seem tedious, it can actually help save you time as you go through the IM integration process.

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

Eight Tips for Implementing Intelligent Mail By Monica Lundquist Postal Affairs Mgr, WindowBook, Inc

                     Eight Tips for Implementing Intelligent Mail

Go ahead and admit it. You have been procrastinating on the whole United States Postal Service® (USPS) Intelligent Mail® (IM) thing, and now you are starting to panic. The November date for introduction of the IM discounts is just around the corner, and you have not even started your implementation plans.

Don’t worry, you are not alone! There are lots of people who have been putting this off, just like you. Some were skeptical about the whole thing and wanted to wait and see if it was actually going to happen. Others figured there would be lots of changes and revisions to the USPS plans, so they wanted to wait for the dust to settle a bit. And for many of you, quite frankly, IM just scares the bejezzus out of you!

Regardless of what category you fall into, you really ought to start thinking about your implementation plans for Intelligent Mail. Here are some tips for getting started:

1) Do some detailed analysis to determine which level, if any, of IM that you will be using. You will need to do this analysis to first identify whether IM will be of benefit to your organization, and if so, whether Basic Service or Full Service is right for you. The USPS does provide some on-line benefit calculators to assist in this process, but you will likely need to enlist a number of members of your team, possibly in various departments, to get a complete picture. Keep in mind that while IM is currently voluntary, that may not always be the case. There have been statements made by the USPS that the current automation discounts will in 2011 be available only for mailers using the IM barcodes.

  • 2) Once you have determined which level of IM service is best for you, you will need to obtain a Mailer ID (MID), or if you use service providers, Customer Relationship ID’s (CRID). Virtually everything under IM will be transacted using the Business Customer Gateway, so you will want to access the USPS presentation on using the Business Customer Gateway if you are not already familiar with it. Once you have reviewed the presentation, you can then go online to apply for your ID’s.
  • 3) Start printing the IM barcode on your mailpieces. Even if your internal systems are not yet completely set up to handle the IM transactions with the USPS, you should start printing the IMb’s on your mailpieces as soon as possible. Before you do that, however, you should have some printed samples of your mailpieces containing the IMb reviwed by your local Mailpiece Design Analyst to make sure there are no problems. This includes any sack, tray or pallet tags as well as mailpieces if you are the physical preparer of the mail.
  • 4) Become familiar with Mail.dat and Mail.xml if you are not already. These are the two primary means by which electronic transactions with the USPS take place. You will need to make sure that your mailing processes are capable of producing at minimum mail.dat files, and ideally both mail.dat files and mail.xml.
  • 5) Investigate your internal mailing processes, including any software or hardware, to insure that they are IM compliant. Work with your hardware and software vendors and service providers to assist you with this process. You may need to do some testing and possibly some hardware or software upgrades or replacements. If you have very sophisticated, automated mailing processes, IM integration may require some custom designed systems to insure seamless integration.
  • 6) If you plan to take advantage of the free Address Correction Services (ACSTM) in the IM Full Service Option, you should work with your database administrator, fulfillment house, or other service providers to determine how to incorporate the address corrections back into your database. ACS is much more complex under IM Full Service, and there is the potential to receive three different types of corrections, in three different formats, and at three different prices (not all ACS corrections will be free of charge).
  • 7) Once you have your mailer ID, you should begin testing some transactions with the USPS using the Business Customer Gateway and the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM). This will allow you to work out any bugs in your internal systems and is also required for USPS authorization for IM Full Service. Once you have passed the TEM testing, you will be running tests in a parallel environment for a period of time until the USPS authorizes you as an IM Full Service mailer.
  • 8) If you plan on implementing the IM Full Service option, consult the USPS checklist for IM Full Service mailers. It is an exhaustive list of all the points you need to do in order to qualify for Full Service.

Intelligent Mail is indeed very complex, but it is not as scary as it seems. Take one step at a time, and you will make it through the integration process. Take advantage of the knowledge of others, such as colleagues, service providers, vendors and suppliers, USPS representatives and mailing associations. Most importantly, don’t procrastinate any longer, get started TODAY!