Strategy: It’s All About Co-Mailing
Co-mailing has become an extremely important way to reduce postage costs. This is the process of combining catalogs with other catalogs to create a bigger mail pool that yields greater discounts for the companies that participate. It’s a complicated topic to comprehend. So first I’ll discuss what co-mailing is and how to do it, then get into its advantages and disadvantages, and lastly what you can expect in terms of net savings.
Ways to Co-Mail
There are two ways to commingle publications for co-mailing.
In-line co-mailing occurs when multiple catalog titles are combined into one mailstream during the stitching and ink-jetting stage on the bindery line.
Off-line co-mailing involves combining bundles from different catalog titles to create more mail that can be sorted at the sectional center facility (SCF) level and put on carrier route pallets — both of which will gain better discounts.
The number of catalogs you mail at one time determines which method is right for you in the course of your mailing schedules. Both techniques have their advantages and disadvantages, but the postal savings realized from co-mailing more than offset the disadvantages.
4 Quantity Mailed: At least 300M and up.
4 Postal Savings: This is gained from better presort levels and possibly better drop-ship discounts. Also, more mail qualifies at the carrier route level.
4 Better Deliverability: More carrier route or five-digit pallets result, enabling the catalogs to penetrate the postal system deeper. This helps increase the overall catalog production flow through the postal system, from start to finish.
4 Ink-Jetting: You can ink-jet the order form at the centerfold of your catalog, as well as on the back cover.
8 One of your competitors could be a co-mail partner arriving in-home on the same day. This obviously could occur without co-mailing, too.
8 A co-mailing partner might decide to drop out at the last minute. If so, you’re stuck without a partner, which eliminates the savings you might have been counting on.
8 Your mail date might have to be adjusted by a day or two in order to participate. In-home dates can be longer as a result.
8 If the company you’re co-mailing with is late on its creative files and misses the press date, it could be forced out of the co-mailing program, which is worse for the remaining participants.
8 Co-mailing can drive up manufacturing costs, which could potentially eliminate some of the resulting postal savings.
8 Catalogers with large mailstreams might not allow a smaller mailing to co-mail with them. The advantage is clearly with the smaller mailer, however, this varies printer to printer.
8 The printer rather than the service bureau must do the presort, which requires more coordination on your part.
8 You may have to redesign your back cover and order form to accommodate your co-mail partner