Strategy: Catalog Cost Cutting ’08, Part 2
Catalogers always need to know how to maximize their printing, paper and mail distribution programs, especially now that we all face seemingly continuous paper and postage cost increases. In our April issue (pg. 34), I exposed 10 places where expensive fat is hiding in your paper and its printing process. This month, we're going to do the same for your postal expenses.
More than 50 percent of the cost to print and mail a catalog is postage. Therefore, the manner in which you distribute your catalog into the U.S. Postal Service mailstream is critical to containing postal costs.
In this column, I’ll discuss pound vs. piece rate catalogs, as well as “slim jim” catalogs, which mail at the letter rate. I’ll also get into co-mailing, which presents a significant cost-saving opportunity for catalogers today.
1. Mail at the Piece Rate
A catalog weighing 3.3 ounces or less can qualify at the postal piece rate. If the catalog exceeds that weight, it must mail at the pound rate, which is higher. For example, a 72-page catalog measuring 8 inches x 10 1/2 inches with 64 pages on 30-lb paper and eight pages on 40-lb paper, and with no bind-in order form, could mail at the piece rate. Increasing the page count to 80 or using a heavier stock will cause the catalog to mail at the pound rate, increasing postage by approximately 10 percent. A 64-page catalog with 48 pages on 34-lb paper and 16 pages on 40-lb paper will also mail at the piece rate.
Whenever possible, move to a lighter stock to reduce weight and qualify for piece-rate mailings. Or adjust your trim size to accomplish the same.
2. Try a Slim Jim
Some catalogers continue to experiment with this letter-sized format to lower their postage costs. A slim-jim catalog needs to weigh 3 ounces or less and have at least a 50-lb text basis weight on the outside four pages to qualify at the letter rate. To qualify as a slim jim, the catalog also needs to measure 6 1/8 inches by 10 3/4 inches.