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.