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USPS changes, data-rich IMb mean opportunity for mailers — Part 2 of 3

Operationally, receiving data in advance of the ZIP codes that are to be sorted and creating “one pass” sort schemes is highly recommended to maximize operational efficiency. Further, a business model that involves sorting only non-5-digit qualifying (or “residual”) mail is smart business since it only makes sense to commingle mail that adds value to the overall commingled mailing. BBH has been evolving our offerings to meet these market needs. We are increasingly focused on integrating the data – particularly with customers who have BCC software or can create Mail.dat files – with NetSort (our Full Service IMb co-mingling software) to maximize postage discounts with the lowest possible operational costs.

5-digit discount spreads (vs. 3D) are rich in Standard Mail – particularly as a percentage of the overall discount. In Standard A, the migration from AADC or 3-digit to 5-digit typically not only involves presort savings, but also what can be a highly profitably drop-ship discount. Overall, the maximum discounts in standard mail are more on a percentage basis when measuring from mixed AADC to 5-digit due to the significant discounts that are associated with drop shipment.

Partnering with a transportation provider – and there are many in the industry – is a vital part of your Standard Mail program. The sweet spot for large comminglers is the incremental 5D / SCF discounts for the billions of mailpieces annually that are candidates for this added discount!

Other areas that have been a big focus for many during the past several months are implementing Intelligent Mail barcodes and Full Service discounts. While the added discounts are nice – particularly for First Class mail at $3 per thousand – it is now time to look beyond compliance toward a future where the IMb serves as a money-making platform for your business.

The USPS reaffirmed its commitment to the IMb program by continuing the discounts in the proposed rates. It is now clear that these discounts will be in effect through at least next year. Over the longer term, we expect full-service IMbs and the data-rich Mail.dat files that go with Full Service mailings to be part of the fabric of USPS. We expect that the discount structure will evolve to reflect this and that USPS will implement quality-based incentives based on the data-rich capabilities of the IMb. We also expect that there will be changes over the long term in the mailing process where IMbs are assigned.

** This article was originally published in the 2010 Q4 edition of the The Broadcast, BÖWE BELL + HOWELL’s sorting customer newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to the email list to receive these newsletters, please send an email to