Mailers should expect postage rates to increase twice a year for the foreseeable future. They should take every step possible to minimize the impact of postage rate hikes. Some strategies include taking advantage of postal promotions, improving address accuracy, and postal presorting. What Does the Postal Service Do? This question may be a blinding flash of the obvious. Ask anyone; the USPS delivers mail. As much as the Postal Service is the preeminent delivery organization, they are equally adept at sorting mail. From dropping a birthday card in a blue mail receptacle in Key West, Florida, to delivering it in time for the party in Hope Point, Alaska, the sorting effort is staggering. Whenever the Post Office touches a piece of mail, it costs money. If you sort your mail before delivering it to the dock at the Postal facility, you qualify for a postage discount. Sorting before induction into the mailstream is called “presorting.” Of course, the USPS has rules and requirements for preparing mail for acceptance. The good news is hardware and software technology make presorting discounts available to almost any mailing organization. Sort the Good Americans change addresses at an astounding rate. Over 15% of the country’s population moves each year. Additionally, the Postal Service realigns ZIP and ZIP+4 Codes as the population shifts and because of new construction. Inaccurate address information has a knack for infiltrating your mailing list because of data entry errors and list corruption. For a postal presort to be valid, mailers must update and correct addresses. A “clean” address is necessary for the USPS presort discount programs. Two well-known postal programs that ensure deliverable mail include: CASS-Certified™ address standardization. This application corrects misspellings, directionals (north, south, east, west), and suffixes (drive, street, circle). It verifies the address, updates the ZIP Code, and adds the ZIP+4 code. Today, a machine reads the delivery address more often than a human, so everything needs to be correct. Software calculates the postal barcode from this information. The National Change of Address™ (NCOA) move updating program. Software providers and internet services offer a cost-effective NCOA service to update recently moved residences and businesses. Sorting and MASS™ Certification Throughout processing, sortation hardware scans the address block of each piece of mail, searching for address information or the postal barcode. The scanning process is highly flexible. The address does not have to be in a consistent location on the envelope or flat. It can be on either side of the mail piece. As the mail travels down a conveying track, the equipment diverts mailpieces to the appropriate bins for the presort schema based on the ZIP Code and other address data. The correspondence is moved from the bins to mail trays already sorted and ready for the post office at a reduced postage rate. The sorting hardware continues to process mail during loading and unloading. There is no reason to stop working. The USPS certifies sorting hardware to sort based on postal standards and print clean, accurate postal barcodes on the mailpieces. The MASS™ certification extends the CASS™ software certification system mentioned earlier. The USPS and the mailing industry cooperated to design the process to improve the accuracy of postal codes. MASS™ certification is mandatory for mailers using sorting hardware to print delivery point barcodes (DPBCs) on mail pieces submitted for mailing at discounted automation rates. Presort Mail with Automation Mail Manifesting Mail sortation hardware often offers the benefit of mail manifesting. A manifest mailing system enables a mailer to document postage and fees for all pieces in a mailing paid via permit imprint. One significant advantage of manifesting is it qualifies mailers to pay for nonidentical weight pieces with a permit imprint. Other benefits of manifesting include: Automated documentation provides easily maintained mailing records. Convenience of paying by permit imprint. There is no need to affix stamps or meter strips. Combine different classes of mail on the same manifest. From Tritek Technologies Since 1988, Tritek has engineered patented, field-proven mailroom automation and document imaging solutions to improve productivity and mailroom efficiency. Tritek's outbound mail processing equipment and software allow organizations to weigh, label, manifest, barcode, print reports, and build trays and bundles. Our expanding menu of mail services includes Biohazard Screening, Digital Email Delivery, Database Management, Returned Mail Processing, Inbound Mail, Presorted Mail, and Parcel Processing. Tritek’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, government, educational institutions, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and fulfillment. Learn More Mail Processing Tips: How to Presort Mail (And Why You Should) How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations How to Solve the Returned Mail Challenge
Even in the digital age, insurers and other businesses generate lots of mail. Applications include claims, policies, billing, correspondence, checks, notices, statements, and more. Managing postage spend is always a concern, which means sorting the mail to take advantage of USPS workshare discounts is a smart strategy. Presort services exist, but many insurers create enough local and regional mail to make sorting their own mail a reasonable alternative. What is Presorting, and How Do You Do It? Presorting the mail means sorting individual mailpieces and grouping them to enable more efficient delivery by the US Postal Service. Companies sorting their own mail use two methods, usually together. The first method is to sort the data into zip code sequence before printing. Sometimes companies sort and group the mail even more finely, thus generating a complete automated mailing without ever rearranging the order of the physical envelopes. This is rare, however. Most organizations run several print jobs every day. Though they may sort each job by zip code, few companies can sort the data for an entire day’s mail and create one giant print stream. Jobs are ready for printing at different times and companies can’t wait until the end of the day to start printing. Also, print applications use different paper stock, outbound envelopes, and return envelopes or inserts. Document operations must process the jobs separately to accommodate this variety in physical composition. The second method of presorting takes place after documents are printed, folded, and inserted into envelopes. Operators feed the mail from multiple daily jobs into a machine equipped with a high-speed multi-line optical character reader (MLOCR). The sorting machine looks up the address on each mailpiece, sprays the postal barcode on the envelope, and sorts mail into bins or pockets. As the bins fill, machine operators unload the envelopes into mail trays, mark them, and stack them on pallets for transportation to a USPS facility. Benefits of Presorting Your Mail The largest benefit of mail presorting is a reduction in postage. When mailers do some of the work, the USPS rewards them with workshare discounts, which can reduce an insurer’s postage spend substantially. Presort postage discounts depend on the number of mailpieces to be delivered to a particular area. Groups of mailpieces destined for the same 5-digit zip code qualify for greater discounts than groups addressed to a 3-digit area, for example. Groups must include at least ten pieces to be eligible for a presort discount. If an insurer’s mail is relatively dense, meaning they have lots of mail addressed to a small geographic region, they can qualify most of their mail for a postage discount. They needn’t mingle their mail with that of other mailers to reduce their postage costs, as is done with outside presort service bureaus. Presorted mail tends to get delivered faster, since mailers have already grouped and packaged the mail for delivery to USPS regional facilities. The postal service skips the sorting steps and begins transporting the mail right away. Why Presort In-House? Mail generated by insurance companies is particularly well-suited for presorting. Insurers often serve a consistent group of customers from regional processing centers. This increases mail density and allows insurance company mail centers to define sort schemes they use every day to process the mail. Besides the postage discounts and faster delivery benefits offered to all presort mailers, those who presort their own mail enjoy other advantages: Keep All the Discount — Presort service bureaus charge fees, usually by keeping a portion of the postage discount for which the mail qualifies. When insurers or other businesses sort their own mail, they save more on postage than they would by outsourcing this work. Later Cutoff Times — To get all the mail sorted and delivered to the Post Office by the USPS deadline, presort service bureaus must pick up mail from their customers in the afternoon. Companies sorting their own mail can work well into the evening, qualifying more of their mail for discounted postage and inducting some of their mail a day earlier. For some applications such as bills, this one-day acceleration in the process can make a difference in days sales outstanding and cash flow. Security and Accountability — Given the nature of their confidential correspondence, many insurers prefer to maintain control of their mailpieces until they deposit the mail with the USPS. An in-house mail sorting operation gives them this option. The organization can track important documents such as policy cancellation letters through the document production process, including the date the documents were inducted into the USPS delivery network. For more details on the way presort bureaus work, see THIS ARTICLE. Available from Tritek Tritek Technologies builds mail sorting equipment to meet the needs of insurers based on their mail volume, production schedules, sortation density, and physical space. Our superior reading technology allows Tritek machines to process mail often rejected by other equipment. CLICK HERE to review our product information for presort mail equipment. Many of our customers use our versatile sorting machines to distribute incoming mail in the morning and process outbound mail in the afternoon. Our flexible design and intelligent software make this possible, improving the ROI on sorter equipment purchases. Contact us to assess your mail sorting needs. By analyzing your mailings we can tell you the best way to achieve postal savings and realize other benefits important to your organization.
The best way to save money on mailing is lowering your postage costs. Mailers realize savings by taking advantage of workshare postage discounts offered by the US Postal Service. As the name suggests, it involves work. You can outsource the task to a service provider or do the work yourself. How do you know which is the best approach? Mailers who present barcoded and sorted mail packaged for efficient distribution pay lower postage rates. The US Postal Service can efficiently transport properly prepared trays, sacks, or pallets of mail to USPS hubs and distribution centers without further handling. This saves the USPS money and they pass some of the savings along to the mailers in the form of postage discounts. The Outsourcing Model Many mailers earn postage discounts by contracting with a mail presort service provider. Outsourcing is a good choice for organizations with low or inconsistent mail volumes. Mailers address their envelopes, insert the contents, and add postage before turning their mail over to the service provider for barcoding and sorting. Presort service providers will dictate the postage rate at which mailers should meter their mail. The presort company will collect client mail every day according to an established schedule and transport it to their sorting facilities. Several factors determine the fees mail service providers charge their customers, including the volume and makeup of the mail. Low volume mailers, or those with low zip code density may pay a monthly or per-piece service charge to the presort vendors. Troublesome mail that causes sorting equipment to reject the mail because of data capture problems may trigger upcharge fees. If they don’t charge a handling fee, the presort service providers make money in rebates from the US Postal Service. Rebates depend on the difference in the rate applied by the mailers and the rate at which the presorter can qualify the mail by sorting, drop-shipping, or co-mingling mail from multiple mailers. Presort vendors may impose afternoon cutoff times to allow them time to pick up mail according to their established routes and return to their processing centers in time to comingle and sort the day’s mail. Any mail generated after the cutoff time must wait until the next mailing day or be deposited at the local post office at full postage rates by the mailers themselves. Delays can also occur after presort mailing vendors have mail in their possession. They may hold mail for a day to accumulate more volume and greater discounts. Some presort companies maintain multiple locations and ship their client’s mailpieces from one facility to another depending on the zip code distribution for the day’s mail. Extra transportation can cause pieces to enter the mailstream a day later than planned. Ideally vendors will notify clients when such delays occur. In-House Presorting Outsourcing mail to a presort service provider isn't always the best solution, however. An organization may have security concerns. They don't want the mail to flow through the hands of a third party before being entrusted to the Postal Service. Or, they want to run mail later into the day, beyond a deadline set by an outside presort company. Cost may also be a factor. With enough mail volume, a mailer may qualify for the lowest postage savings on their own, with no need to share the discount with a presort mail vendor. How do you know if in-house mail sorting is the right solution for you? That takes some careful research, analysis, and number-crunching. When weighing the decision about outsourcing or insourcing mail presort, it is critical to know your own mail. The best candidates for in-house mail sorting: Have a healthy understanding of the characteristics of their own mail Consistently mail to identical/similar lists Have tight delivery date requirements, preventing them from holding mail for a day or more Produce mail volumes sufficient to generate a positive ROI for their in-house sorting investment Have or can acquire in-house resources familiar with mail preparation requirements Have enough space in their facility to accommodate mail sorting machines Learn More About Tritek's Presort Solutions Which is Better-In-House or Outsource? Everyone wants to save money on outgoing mail. Barcoding and pre-sorting not only lowers postage costs, these steps can result in speedier and more predictable delivery times. Mail featuring Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb’s) also allows mailers to track their mail and take advantage of other US Postal Service features and promotions. With the plethora of benefits associated with mail presorting, the only question for mailers is how to best qualify for the workshare discounts. Fortunately, Tritek builds a variety of equipment that helps organizations handle their own outbound (and inbound) mail. We offer machines that operate in small spaces. Our reading technology is the best in the business, allowing us to read, barcode, and sort mail other equipment will reject. Many of our customers leverage their machines for double-duty, acting as inbound mail sorters in the mornings and outbound sorters in the afternoons. The savings organizations realize by processing incoming mail more efficiently can help establish the ROI necessary for investing in an outbound mail sorting solution. Every operation is different. Contact the professionals at TriTek for an honest assessment of your mail sorting needs. We’ll analyze your mailings and tell you if an in-house sorting solution is the best way to achieve postage savings for your organization. Related Resources: How to Prevent High Postage Rates How You Can Use One Machine for all Mailing Operations