Say goodbye to the declining and debt ridden US Postal Service and welcome The New USPS, the growing and vibrant US Package Service.
Though the acronym USPS remains unchanged, the “P” switch from “Postal” to “Package” is truly transformative.
The old USPS acknowledges that first class and standard mail will continue to surrender to the insuperable power of digital competition; conversely, the New USPS accepts, with equal resolve, the growing demand to process and deliver packaged items, commonly referred to as parcels, which are immune to the threat of digital replacement.
When’s the last time you saw a USPS sponsored ad that ballyhooed the virtues of first class or standard mail?
Since 2008, annual volume of First-Class mail has dropped a staggering 27.5%, from 90.7B to 65.8B pieces. Advertising, or standard, mail volume has also dropped from 98.4B to 80.9B, or about 18%. Package volumes are on the rise, though modest at this writing. 2008 volume was 3.3B while last year it grew by 12% to 3.7B. eCommerce is one reason for this increase. Internet shopping has grown steadily by 15 percent a year and The New USPS benefits since it’s the only service capable of delivering to every address in the country.
Eight years ago, we introduced The Inevitable Mailroom which married the best of workflow technologies. At the time, it included the mixed weight manifesting of traditional mail and the eDelivery of digitized documents and offered its users optimal savings in labor, equipment, consumables and postage. This value proposition lives on today for processors of transaction mail.
With the advent of The New USPS, the definition of The Inevitable Mailroom has been expanded to include parcels. While traditional mail items feature the IM®b — Intelligent Mail Barcode – The Inevitable Mailroom now includes software that keys off of the IM®pb – Intelligent Mail Package Barcode – which is the heart of The New USPS.
Software deliverables include automatically generating package labels that comply with strict manifesting and, in some cases, presorting schemes and protocols.
With respect to items requiring the IM®pb, the vast majority flowing through the mailstream today are represented by five different types:
1. Certified Mail.
2. First-Class Package Services – for lightweight items up to 13 oz.; sometimes up to 16 oz.
3. Parcel Select – both pre-sorted and non-presorted versions which are ground products for items exceeding 13 oz.
4. Priority Mail – expedited services for items exceeding 13 oz.
5. Priority Mail Express – promises even faster delivery, in many cases overnight.
All IM®pb categories listed above allow for manifesting which, in effect, audits each mail run electronically. The Manifest Report shows the exact number of items in a mail run, the exact weight of each item, the exact amount of postage due on each item and, finally, the total postage owed for the entire run. The total amount owed is paid by the mailer to the USPS using a prepaid postage account; in addition, a pre-printed permit on each item eliminates the need to affix postage stamps or use meter imprints.
Certified mail, for example, is subject to first-class postage rates. Presorting is allowed and mailers who process a minimum of 500 certified items per mailing qualify for the same substantial work share discounts as processors of first-class transaction mail. Enormous savings result from automating the processing of Form 3800, CASS coding and presorting addresses, printing each item and manifesting the entire mailing.
Certified Mail is also a delivery option that requires signature verification of delivery. If you need a signature to confirm delivery and cost is a consideration, you’d be hard pressed to find any delivery option with a base cost less than $3.79. In truth, there is no competitive offer at this low price point. Even Restricted Delivery which requires the person named on Form 3800 to be the person who signs and confirms delivery, carries a minimum cost of $8.84. Certified Mail stands alone as the best value in this category.
Even as Congress keeps its strangle-hold on the USPS and fails to repeal its healthcare pre-funding mandate for employees included in the 2006 Postal Modernization Act, the rise in packaged mail will continue.
Even as Congress continues to ignore USPS recommendations to streamline its operations, the rise in packaged mail will continue.
Even as electronic messaging technologies continue to advance and proliferate, the rise in packaged mail will continue.
The day you can digitize a shipping carton is the day the USPS will take its last breath.