There were no shortage of topics to discuss at the November 2017 MTAC meetings held at USPS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Here’s an overview of the latest news:
- Board of Governors Nominations. The Postmaster General provided a quick recap of the delivery and health of the business as well as some broader trends in the mailing industry. When asked if she thought the Senate would confirm any of the presidentially appointed nominations for Board of Governors, she responded that she believed they would. This is particularly important as the current and only Governor’s term will expire the first week of December. (I too made a prediction on this and it’s included in my 2017 Predictions video!)
- Changes to Standard Mail Nomenclature. Jim Cochrane, USPS Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, discussed among other topics the proposed name change of Standard Mail to Marketing Mail. This change is part of the 2017 price adjustments, published in the Federal Register Notice. Industry reaction to this has been primarily negative as serious concerns are being expressed regarding mail open rates and lead time to have the mail piece indicia state “Marketing Mail” rather than “Standard”. Mr. Cochrane suggested that perhaps it’s time to revisit whether we even need an indicia on the mail piece at all since all the relevant information is baked in the Full Service IMb barcode. During the MTAC Leadership meeting, we discussed forming a Task Team to explore what removing the indicia might mean as well as mapping out an implementation timeline for software and industry infrastructure changes to support “Marketing Mail”. It was agreed that at least an 18-month time frame was needed.
- Assessments & Invoices. Full Service IMb Assessments were discussed and the USPS was still set on moving forward with their proposed timeline. While the USPS acknowledged there is still some work to be done in upgrading some underlying systems, they feel it is best to begin this process now and to collaboratively work with the industry as we identify and correct any issues. One topic discussed was the anticipated length of time for the USPS Pricing and Classification Service Center to rule on a disputed invoice. This too may require a quick Task Team to map out the process and timeline a bit more clearly. As a reminder, only the Full Service IMb discounts are at risk with the monthly assessments. Census-based Move Update and other related items won’t occur until 2017 with Move Update not to occur any sooner than July 2017.
- Delay on Secondary Address Requirements. Parcel mailers breathed a bit of a sigh of relief as it was shared that secondary address requirements won’t occur until later in 2017. This is to provide industry sufficient time to implement a solution that would obtain a complete, correct, and current address that also includes an apartment or suite number. Since the USPS is unable to offer an APTLink type product, mailers will need to leverage industry solutions such as BCC Software Address Resolutions Services for apartment verification and append.
- Informed Delivery App. The Product Innovation track had much to discuss as always including the new 2017 promotions and eligibility requirements. Steve Monteith, USPS Vice President of Marketing and new USPS MTAC Chair, assisted in reviewing the 2016 results and guiding the attendees through the programs. He also spent some time sharing how the USPS is implementing MTAC Workgroup feedback for the Informed Delivery App. This is the program that emails scanned piece images to recipients who opt into the program giving them a preview of what is scheduled to arrive in their mail receptacle. Most of the recommendations are being implemented, but some are not including the request for mailers to not have their mail piece image scanned and sent to the recipient. The concern is that an early preview of the piece could diminish the “mail moment” and would be somewhat lackluster as a black-and-white image rather than the actual piece. The USPS is open to testing the open rates, but at this point is committed to rolling out Informed Delivery nationwide early in 2017.
As always, BCC Software will continue to stay involved in MTAC and will keep our customers and partners informed. Please be sure to check out the 2017 prediction videos and as always, let us know How Can We Help?