I still remember when Oldsmobile ran its memorable ad series using the "it's not your father's Oldsmobile," in an attempt to attract younger buyers and change its image. Watching the U.S. Postal Service lately makes me think of that ad because it's also looking to attract the next generation of customers and change its image. Gone are the days when the Postal Service was all about mail and little else. As First Class mail volumes — the Postal Service's high-profit margin bread and butter — continue to decline, the USPS is looking hard at other sources of revenue.
Kathy J. Siviter
The U.S. Postal Service is dipping its toes into the digital waters, recently announcing plans to embark on several digital initiatives, starting with the formation of a new Digital Solutions Group (DSG) within its organization.
This summer the U.S. Postal Service provided cross-channel retailers with its January 2012 software release overview for customer-facing postage systems such as PostalOne after hearing from mailers and service providers that software changes need to be made in a more stable, scheduled manner so they could better plan for said changes.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is in the midst of a sweeping reorganization and change in focus, which began with the October 2010 appointment of a new postmaster general, followed by significant organizational changes in January, which will continue for some months to come.
In early October, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) was applauded by the mailing industry when it denied the USPS its exigent price increase, which would have taken effect in January 2011 for an average increase of 5.6 percent, with specific products receiving higher or lower increases (catalogs were expected to see increases ranging from 4 percent to 10 percent).
In late March the U.S. Postal Service officially presented its plan to move to a five-day delivery week to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). Although the centerpiece of the USPS’ plan is the elimination of street address delivery on Saturdays, direct marketers should be aware there are many more potential changes that could impact their businesses.
Cross-channel marketers who have historically left postal matters in the hands of their service providers may find that the rapidly changing postal landscape requires more hands-on knowledge and involvement than ever before.
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As the USPS faces significant financial stress and mail volume continues to decline, catalogers must exercise vigilance on postal issues. While some of the changes the USPS is pursuing as a result of its unprecedented economic state are positive, others can do tremendous harm to catalogers and other
Attention catalogers who have changed the shape of your books or are considering doing so within the next year: Beware! Changing your catalog shape to qualify for automation letter postage rates may save money in the short term, but it can cost more in the long term. That’s because the U.S. Postal Service is in the process of conducting tests on a variety of design characteristics. Within the next year, its rules will change significantly and may wipe out the slim-jim savings. And it’s not just about the shape. The USPS also is looking into changing rules concerning mailing materials, thickness, tabbing requirements and
Next March, the USPS will implement new delivery address placement and format requirements for flats, the size of mail that most catalogs are classified under. The requirements will apply to ALL catalogs and not just those destined for postal facilities that will have the new Flats Sequencing System machines that the USPS will begin deploying this fall. And this is regardless of how flats are presorted, whether they’re barcoded or where they entered the mailstream. The best way to look at these issues is literally to have your own catalogs in front of you so you can see what changes may need to
The U.S. Postal Service recently promised to delay the required implementation of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) for all letters and flats until May 2009 and will allow mailers to continue to access a yet-to-be-determined automation price by using POSTNET barcodes until May 2010. The USPS also said the two options it proposed for using IMBs — basic and full-service — will have separate prices. The announcement came in response to a barrage of comments from mailers opposing the original January 2009 requirement to use IMBs only (i.e., no POSTNET barcodes allowed) to qualify for automation prices. The USPS published its proposed IMB requirements