At a recent FAST® User Group meeting, the USPS® shared some interesting statistics regarding the number of FAST messages their systems are processing on a weekly basis. For the week of July 11th, roughly 40,000 messages were processed. Since then, the weekly numbers have skyrocketed, with an average of 125,000 messages being processed each week. This increase in traffic has created some headaches for the USPS, with the increased load causing response time delays and even causing some systems to be rebooted from time to time. The USPS is working diligently to respond to this increased demand on their systems and handle the increasing volume of transactions.
Why the sudden increase? It appears the behavior of the industry is changing. The number of mailers adopting IMb™ Full Service is growing rapidly. While the USPS is pushing Full Service compliance more and more, emphasizing the loss of postal discounts that will take effect in 2011, the benefits of the service are becoming increasingly apparent. Not only does the service allow mailers to take advantage of postal discounts, it also provides increased transparency. It allows mailers the ability to track individual mailpieces step-by-step through the mailing process. By tracking mailpieces, mailers can easily measure delivery performance, increase their customer service offerings, and initiate precisely-timed multi-channel marketing efforts. When used in conjunction with mailing software solutions, these tasks can be nearly effortless. Add-on solutions such as BCC Software’s Track N Trace allow mailers to connect each mailpiece’s Intelligent Mail™ barcode data to a mailing job, giving them the ability to follow everything from a centralized location.
Yes, the delays in FAST processing are frustrating, but is a clear signal that the industry is moving to Intelligent Mail as the USPS desired. We are advancing. The industry is changing for the better. We can do things now that we were never able to do before. So, continue to push forward, the USPS will work out their issues, and the advantages will be worth the frustration of the current delays.