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Barcode Readability is Looking Up, and So is the Future of Intelligent Mail

November 10, 2009

The DMM Advisory lit up last week with a not-unexpected announcement regarding Intelligent Mail barcode readability standards: Effective November 30, the 70 percent readability verification threshold will be raised to 80 percent minimum tolerance – on its way to the 90-percent mark, now scheduled to take effect in March 2010.

This shift, set by the Postal Service after hearing recommendations from the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), certainly raises the bar on IMB output quality. Fortunately, the USPS reports that “mailers are achieving very good readability scores on MERLIN® for Intelligent Mail barcodes.” In fact, I’d say that’s an understatement: During a recent one-month period, 96 percent of IMB letter mailings submitted to the USPS achieved a MERLIN readability rating of 90 percent or better. (See the full report.)

This bodes well for the long-term acceptance of barcode technology that quite literally has the potential to transform the way we use paper mail. Of course, these favorable results only tell some of the story: The same early adopters who moved first to build Intelligent Mail into their workflows are more likely to have the equipment and the personnel necessary to ensure the smoothest possible transition. As more mailers in all segments move to IMB – spurred on by USPS mandates instead of postal futurism – the quality of printed barcodes will likely be all across the board, especially at first.

If you’re already a BCC client and you’re contemplating the leap to Intelligent Mail, I encourage you to check the User Forums in BCC’s exclusive Customer Portal to ask questions and receive transition advice from our staff and your peers. If you’re not yet working with BCC but would like advice on creating an Intelligent Mail future, contact one of our Product Specialists and let them know: How Can We Help?

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