Inkjet the USPS and Getting Ready for 2020

In Article, In-Plant Operations, Industry Issues, Knowledge Base, Transitional Mailby Lois RitarossiLeave a Comment

Lois Ritarossi

It’s November. Six weeks until 2020. Many organizations have completed their annual strategic and budget planning process with insight from events and situations that have had positive and negative impacts on their business in 2019 and anticipation of changes for 2020.

Many in-plant organizations go through a rigorous budget planning process and are often asked to make cuts in spending due to budget shortfalls in other areas of their organizations. This is often challenging as operations assess their fixed and variable costs and have few options compared to commercial print operations to reduce costs and spending. Of course, most of what is printed is also mailed – and that’s where they may be opportunities.

USPS 2020 Rates Increases

2020 budgets for any organization doing mailings need to address the postage rate increases which are expected to go into effect on January 26th. Whether your mail volumes are increasing, staying flat or decreasing, 2020 budgets need to accommodate a 2.1% increase for first class presort, a 1.9% increase for marketing mail, and a 3.9% increase in postage for flats. Many in-plants have been asked to find savings somewhere in their budget to accommodate the postal rate increases.

Mailers have some unique opportunities to reduce the impact of the 2020 postage rate increases. The USPS is continuing to offer a series of discount promotion programs to enable mailers to reduce postage cost by 2% in 2020. The promotions are designed to encourage mailers to incorporate innovative technologies to make mail more relevant to the consumer. The six promotions proposed for 2020 are Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Engagement; Emerging and Advanced Technology; Mobile Shopping; Informed Delivery; Personalized and Preprinted Color Transpromo; and Earned Value.

Taking advantage of the USPS promotions often means redesigning a mail piece, adding content, changing finishing, or adding special campaigns through Informed Delivery. For in-plant organizations to take advantage of these promotions, it also means collaborating with the marketing teams and other lines of business to make strategic decisions for change in order to receive the benefit of the postal savings. While simple in concept, it is often difficult  for in-plants to get the attention and alignment with other departments to make the required changes in mail piece design, finishing and add campaigns. The marketing teams and lines of business have competing agendas besides reducing the cost of postage.

Inkjet platforms enable print mail operations to enhance the usefulness of mail and take advantage of the various USPS promotions, while delivering value to consumers and postage savings to their organizations. A win, win, win. Depending on current capabilities and software, Informed Delivery and color transpromo are easy  for many organizations to implement. If in-plants are using Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcodes, adding tactile interactive and mobile campaigns are concepts that will get the buy in from marketing to drive engagement. The postage savings are an added incentive to try something new to drive omni-channel interaction.

Eliminate Flats

With the USPS significantly increasing the postage rate for mailing flats, now is the time for organizations to assess their requirements to transform their documents. Migrating from flats to 6×9 formats will generate significant postage savings in 2020.  Up to 3.3 ounces of mail can mail at the one-ounce rate in a 6×9 envelope.  Inkjet platforms with inline and nearline finishing provide the ability to migrate from single sheets into a flat envelope to booklet formats.  Depending on paper stocks, approximately 8-12 pages can be folded and inserted into a 6×9 envelope. Booklets can also be automated for machine insertion into a 6×9  envelope, providing additional labor savings for  finished pieces out the door. While many marketers have desired the perception of prestige in mailing flat envelopes, the significant postage and operational savings present a compelling reason to leverage inkjet and redesign for a 6×9 mailing envelopes.  A good document redesign to a booklet format is often more engaging than loose pages and keeps all the information in one secure document for recall and follow-up.

Maximize your 2020 Budget

As in-plant managers look to make an impact on their organizations in 2020, consider educating your organizations about the postal rate increases and the opportunity to reduce postal costs through the various promotional campaigns. Sharing the knowledge and opportunity can build bridges across your organization and potentially create engaging print mail applications that drive customer retention and loyalty. Marketing teams and lines of business may have little knowledge of how to implement campaigns and designs that take advantage of technology, finishing and multi-channel engagement while delivering postal savings. Offering new ideas to your organization while leveraging the USPS promotions may set the stage for positive change in 2020.

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