How to Save Printing Costs in 2010
Retailers and catalogers are looking for big cost savings from their printers in 2010. The biggest potential savings will come from maximizing co-mail opportunities. The bottom-line issue is cost savings, and printers give mailers Rube Goldberg-types of cost analyses that are impossible to follow. Mailers are having success, however, at dumbing down co-mail comparisons and getting printers to boil co-mail costs down to the two checks necessary for co-mailing — one to the printer and one to the USPS. This allows mailers to compare who has the best program.
Co-mail programs aren’t just for catalogers. Retailers who produce catalogs, collateral and multiple-page sales fliers can now qualify for co-mail pools as printers build in variable trim size technology to their binderies. Co-mail programs are based on combining several mailings into a single mailing to capture postage discounts from saturation mailing. Retailers are viewed as valuable participants because they often provide good penetration of carrier routes around their store areas, thereby providing a base for other mailers to ride along.
The expansion of co-mail programs, combined with falling printing prices, means that retailers and catalogers have the opportunity to substantially cut their postage costs in 2010 by getting comparable printing and co-mail costs from several printers.
Catalogers spend the majority of their budgets on printing, paper and postage. The biggest savings catalogers can find is in choosing the printer with the best co-mail partnership.
Big savings potential exists from finding the best co-mail pools. Mailers report savings of up to 4 cents/catalog from co-mail. A savings of 4 cents/catalog translates into $4,000 over a mailing of 100,000 catalogs, or $400,000 over an annual circulation of 10 million catalogs. Moving from a co-mail program that yields 2 cents/catalog in savings to 4 cents/catalog in savings will yield $200,000 in cost savings for a mailer with an annual circulation of 10 million catalogs.
Co-mail programs are evolving: Printers and mailers are moving from in-line co-mail programs where the printer arranges for two to four partners to off-line co-mail pools with many more partners. While in-line pools work well for some mailers, off-line pools typically offer more savings. Printers profit from arranging co-mail pools and are increasingly moving toward building off-line pools.
How do off-line co-mail pools work? Printers bind catalogs so the co-mail ink-jet line takes the bound catalogs and ink-jets the name and address on the back cover. Off-line pools max out at around 2.5 million to 3 million catalogs. At that size, there's not much more incremental carrier route discount to be found by building out larger pools.