By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Have your clients been enjoying postal-automation discounts? If so, and they want to keep enjoying them, you need to implement the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb). Starting Jan. 28, 2013, they will no longer be eligible to receive automation discounts on their mailings unless they are using the IMb.
There are two stages to the transition. First is the sunset of POSTNET, which occurs at midnight on Jan. 27, 2013. At this time, IMb Basic or Full-Service IMb will be required to obtain automation discounts.
The second phase occurs in January 2014 when IMb Basic will no longer be eligible for automation discounts. There is a learning curve, and your print suppliers may or may not yet support the IMb, so you want to get started now to give yourself some time.
The IMb combines data from the existing POSTNET, OneCode ACS and PLANET barcodes, as well as other data, into a single comprehensive barcode. In addition to allowing your clients to continue benefitting from automation discounts, Full-Service IMbs allow them to track the progress and delivery of individual mail pieces.
This helps them:
- Gain insight into incoming payments
- Track lagging mail so they can move it along if necessary to hit their in-home target window
- Plan key marketing decisions, such as when to time follow-up emails and phone calls, or fully staff fulfillment operations
- Anticipate cash flow
- Reduce costs from reminders and cancelations being sent out unnecessarily (this can be really important for end users like insurance companies that incur significant costs for premature cancellation and re-instatement of customers)
- Prevent calls to and from customer service, which can save them real money.
Another area of cost savings comes from address-change handling. Although this service is available in both Basic and Full-Service IMbs, it is offered with the Full-Service option at no charge. When mail is returned undelivered as addressed (UAA), there is a significant cost associated with it. With IMb Full-Service, these address changes are provided automatically. One service provider estimates that some of its larger companies can use IMb Full-Service to reduce the cost of their address changes by at least 80%.
For more information on Intelligent Mail barcodes, check out some of the many resources offered by the U.S. Postal Service.
Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor and author for nearly 20 years. If you want to know more about QR codes, Heidi has written two extensive reports:“QR codes: What You Need to Know” discusses QR codes in general, along with campaigns and best practices. “QR and Other Mobile Barcodes: The Data Speaks” aggregates all of the available data on QR and 2D barcodes in terms of usage, demographic patterns, media scanned, and so on.