Mail, Part II: Shape Up or Ship Out
For the first time ever, the USPS is implementing a shape-based mailing rate system, which will greatly impact direct mail and promotional marketing campaigns. The current weight-based system fails to address the fact that certain types of mail simply cost more to process—usually because they require human handling.
On May 14, postage rates for certain classes of mail, such as flats and parcels, will rise as much as 40 percent to 60 percent. However, the new system does offer significant price incentives that reward efficient, automation-friendly mail designs. Bob Makofsky, president of Conformer Expansion Products, Great Neck, N.Y., offers the following tips to take advantage of the incentives while tackling shape-based postal rates:
1. Educate executives on the new system. Most postage increases garner little attention among senior management, but the radical nature of these changes calls for company-wide education. Executives need to understand the basics, such as weight limits by class; thickness limits by class; new rules on uniform thickness; and new rules on flexibility.
2. Compare current mailing costs to proposed costs, including factors beyond postage itself. For instance, an envelope that reclassifies a current parcel into a flat may cost an additional $0.05, but save up to $0.38 in postage. The cost of purchasing and storing mailing supplies is another consideration.
3. Research current packaging supplies and their usage, including how employees use different types of mailers. For instance, beginning in May, mailing letters and brochures in flat 9x12” envelopes instead of #10 envelopes simply for aesthetic appeal will cost an additional $0.20 per piece.
4. Replace inefficient packaging with USPS-friendly mailers. Boxes are among the worst offenders, since they automatically classify as parcels, take up more storage space than envelopes and require additional fulfillment costs for assembly and packing. Padded mailers are also inherently ineffective under the new system due to their thickness. Replacing these types of items with automation-friendly mailers, like paperboard envelopes, will encourage more efficient mail habits and minimize postage costs.