As of May 2011, the United States Postal Service will be rolling out its next generation of mail delivery services . These new services are a leap forward in the “USPS Automation Initiative” with the incorporation of advanced information technology into their vast mailing system.
With the use of the new Intelligent Mail barcode, direct mail will now have the benefits that come with online tracking. From the moment the parcel leaves your mail house to the moment it reaches your customers, each and every piece of mail will be connected to the USPS network via a unique barcode and this information will be available to you and your customers at any time.
What does this mean for advertisers?
Analytics! You will now have the power to test different types of direct mail media and obtain a detailed measure of the response. If you are familiar with Google Analytics, you are aware of the benefits of knowing your website’s visitor details and browsing habits as they relate to your online marketing efforts. Well, Intelligent Mail is the real-life version of Google Analytics. Not only will you be able to learn more about your customers and improve your targeted marketing, the Intelligent Mail system will also improve delivery efficiency and decrease undeliverable mail while at the same time updating your mailing list.
OneCode ACS™ is an automated Address Change Service that provides many benefits for businesses:
- Address change for First Class Mail (while in the system!)
- Automated address correction and updating the mailing list
- Less undeliverable mail
- Predictable mail piece delivery dates
- Savings by having access to all available postal discounts
- One barcode means more space for design and marketing efforts
Advantages for Businesses using Intelligent Mail
One of the most impressive uses of the Intelligent Mail Barcode system is the tracking of invoices and payments. When companies send out invoices with a return envelope included, that return envelope can be tied to the original envelope which contains payment and can be tracked. This can help businesses forecast cash flow.
Full Service vs. Basic
There are two Intelligent Mail Barcode services offered by the USPS.
- Requires Intelligent Mail Barcodes on the letters and flat-size mail.
- It allows for OneCode ACS® service which has a lower cost that traditional ACS™.
- Requires unique Intelligent Mail Barcodes on the letters and flat-size mail.
- Requires unique barcodes on trays, sacks and containers (Nesting – see below)
- Requires documentation delivered electronically
- Requires a drop off appointment
- OneCodeACS® and automated address correction included in price
- Notification of initial receipt by the USPS
- Additional postage discounts
Under the new Full Service requirements, 3 types of Intelligent Mail Barcodes will be generated:
- IMB ID (Intelligent Mail Barcode ID)
- IMTB ID (Intelligent Mail Tray Barcode ID)
- IMCB ID (Intelligent Mail Container Barcode ID)
These 3 barcodes will ensure accurate tracking of all mail pieces at any time throughout the mail system process. The barcode on the mail piece will be assigned to the barcode on the tray and the barcode on the tray will be assigned to a barcode on the container where the mail piece and tray is contained.
The Intelligent Mail Barcode absorbs the functionality of the ACS™, POSTNET and PLANET Code® barcodes into one all-inclusive barcode. Full compliance with the Intelligent Mail Barcode system will be required starting May 2011 in order to receive automation discounts, although with the new system comes accessibility to additional automation discounts and services.
There are 7 main customer benefits in this system which were originally “Strategies” of the USPS to bring in revenue growth and retention, reduced operating costs, reduced investment costs, enhanced revenue accuracy and enhanced mail security:
- Uniquely identify mail and aggregates – Enables end to end visibility of mail
- Developed and deployed enabling infrastructure – Hardware, software, telecommunications systems, power, data wiring, and associated support to ensure delivery and tracking
- Enhanced Address Quality – Reduces unacceptable and returned mail
- Measured and improved commercial mail performance – Robust measurement capabilities to evaluate performance and service
- Drives product innovation – Use mail stream information to create and send more strategic and effective mailings to the consumer.
- Sharpened operational insight – The Postal Service will develop focused analytics that provide insight into operations and a clear understanding of cost drivers.
- Enriched customer experience – Enhanced verification and mail quality help the USPS to become more proactive in communicating and addressing issues.
Source: USPS Intelligent Mail Vision – July 2009
Has your company already started to use the new Intelligent Mail Service?
Please share your experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below.