Before the Postal Storm Hits...What to Do Now
As a catalog/multichannel executive, you’ve no doubt spent the better part of your career initiating cost-cut after cost-cut to compensate for rising postage, paper costs, parcel shipping rates, you name it. If you think you’ve cut and cut to the point where there’s no more to cut, guess again. The question is, What costs are left that can be cut? Plenty.
If I were giving an oral presentation on this, now would come the “Can I see how many, by show of hands?” part where I’d ask catalogers in attendance this: How many of you cut your catalog’s trim-sizes or went to lighter paper weights in preparation for previous postage increases or paper price hikes?
Naturally, we’d see plenty of arms raised. No surprise there. If you’ve been in this business for at least a couple of decades, how could you forget the killer postage hikes of 1988, 1991 and 1995? But now the bigger question: As postal rates settled down in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, how many of you gradually migrated back to larger trim sizes and thicker paper stock? A-ha, look at all those hands raised. So let’s see what would make sense for catalogers in light of this pending postage hike.
I contacted several catalog printers to see what ideas they could offer you. For starters, consider reducing the trim size of your catalog. A trim size reduction will normally lead to paper savings if catalogers work collaboratively with their printers to make sure that any size change fits the printer’s equipment, says Tom Hayes, vice president of business development at R.R. Donnelley. “Postage is a bit more complex in the USPS Standard Mail classification,” he adds, “where the vast majority of catalog mail falls.”
1. For conventional catalog sizes (the 8” x 10.5” family of “flats”), moving to a smaller trim size will save postage only if the catalog weighs more than 3.3 oz today, Hayes notes. There is no postage price break for flat mail that weighs less than 3.3 oz., “assuming that the trim size change keeps the catalog in the flats classification.”