Outsourcing (Mail Service Provider)

The rules and procedures for obtaining postage discounts are varied and complex. So unless you are willing to commit some time and energy to the mailing needs of your business or organization, our first recommendation would be you contact one of the many professional Mail Service Provider members of the NAPM and have a conversation with them. Our member have expert customer service teams that will listen to what your business' mailing or communications needs are and offer a variety of options to achieve them. They will provide you with the simplest hassle free and most effective way to meet your mailing needs while enjoying reduced postage costs.

Selecting the right sortation options for business needs*

In-house, external presort services, sorting, manifesting, consolidating… what makes the most sense for each organization is a function of a whole host of different factors. However, one common theme does emerge: there are enough differences today in mailing trends and presort equipment, software and solutions, that, for many organizations that have been following the same protocols for some time, a re-evaluation is worth a look. Key considerations include:

  • Mail characteristics and volume;
  • Mail patterns – frequency, distribution, concentration among zips;
  • Regulations (Postal and Federal), consumer protections, and more;
  • The benefits of mail tracking capabilities; and
  • The cost-benefit of in-house labor and equipment versus an external presort services solution.

Bulk mailing is an expensive proposition, and postage is the largest contributor to the overall costs of mail. It pays to re-evaluate the mail process and to configure it for optimal postal savings.

Pre-sort services – these services enable organizations to offload operational overhead. They can help consolidate mail to enable organizations to capture more of the top postage pre-sort discounts by aggregating mail from multiple sources and then sorting it by ZIP Code™ before it enters the USPS® network. These services not only make it less expensive to send mail, but can speed delivery depending on the destination.

Pre-sort services: a collaborative approach worth a second look

Many organizations work with an external mail presort services provider. Doing so offers the advantage that mail can be commingled across businesses to achieve critical mass for more five-digit discounts. This is particularly attractive for mailers whose mail volumes aren't sufficient on their own or whose ZIP Code™ concentrations are low.

Tough economic times mean that organizations are looking to reduce expenditures on plant, equipment and labor. Presort services offer all the discounts without the on-site expense.

And presort mailing service providers—because they specialize exclusively in mail services—have outstanding perspective on working through changes in postal regulations and rules, regulation enforcements, mailing and shipping trends, and the latest innovations in technology and mailing solutions.

Presort mailing services providers can also help organizations assess their total mailstream volumes. The proliferation of new customer communications channels has caused shifts in mail volumes. As a result, for some mailers, the in-house sortation solutions selected some years ago are no longer the best fit. When, for example, mailings are fewer or further between, in-house savings may be negated by the amount of time that labor and equipment sits idle.

Further, while speed was once a concern for businesses that were considering working with an external presort mailing services provider, today's presorters are turning mail processing around faster than ever. The top presort services providers now typically do two layers of sorting;

  • Providers will pick-up an organization's outgoing mail and process it with specialized equipment that reads the mailing address, validates address accuracy, applies the barcode, then sorts and trays mail according to USPS® specifications.
  • Then the organization's mail is commingled with mail from other mailers, which provides all mailers, regardless of size, with a greater depth of sort. This double-sort process actually expedites delivery by moving mail closer to its end destination while maximizing the amount of mail that benefits from five-digit discounts.

(*Some content for this section reprinted by permission of Pitney Bowes Inc, from their white paper titled "Have your cake and eat it too”, Pitney Bowes Inc., http://www.pb.com/docs/US/pdf/Microsite/Mail-Services/Solutions/White-Paper-Have-your-cake-2011.pdf)

Benefits of outsourcing include:

  • Can do as much or little of the work as you want; saving costs on your labor and capital investments,
  • Many mailers will pick up your mail at your business or coordinate with your printer to receive and process your mailings according to your expectations,
  • You can have as much or as little interaction with the Postal Service as you want,
  • No need to invest in mailing equipment or software to prepare mailings according to the standards required for commercial prices, and
  • You do not need dedicated mailing resources necessary to prepare mailings and stay abreast of the rapidly changing postal requirements

Maybe by now you have decided that doing commercial mailings yourself is not you core business and not the best investment of your resources. Well there are options. There are a variety of mailing services providers available that provide or broker services to get your communications out in the most efficient and cost effective manner. In order to have effective dialogue with them we have provided a short list of terms that you should understand:  

Presort – The process by which a mailer prepares mail so that it is sorted to the finest extent required by the standards for the price claimed. Generally, presort is performed sequentially, from the lowest (finest) level to the highest level, to those destinations specified by standard and is completed at each level before the next level is prepared. Not all presort levels are applicable to all mailings.

Presorted Mail – A form of mail preparation, required to bypass certain postal operations, in which the mailer groups pieces in a mailing by ZIP Code or by carrier route or carrier walk sequence (or other USPS–recommended separation).

Presorted Prices – Prices which are lower than single-piece prices. In exchange for this lower postage price, mailers must sort their mail into containers based on the ZIP Code destinations on the mail. Also called, commercial prices, bulk mail prices, postage discounts, discount postage rates.

Automation-Compatible Mail – earns larger discounts than mail that is presorted, but not barcoded. The amount of the discount depends on the "depth of the sort.” Automation mail can be sorted to any one of five levels, the Mixed Area Distribution Center ("MADC”), Area Distribution Center ("ADC”), 3-digit, or 5-digit. The further down the mail processing and delivery stream mail can be entered before it must be worked by the Postal Service or "the deeper the depth of sort,” the larger the discount as the costs avoided by the Postal Service increase as the depth of sort increases and mail goes further downstream before the Postal Service must work it.

NAPM for Your Business

The NAPM is a nonprofit trade association of firms concerned with postal worksharing programs, especially discounts for presorted, automated mail. We offer our members a variety of services that benefit their businesses that subsequently benefits yours. Our services include but are not limited to: Advocacy, Information and Education, Industry Networking, and Solutions & Support. Please go to our About NAPM section to see how we are a great business decision you can make regarding your business mailing needs.