Are you ready for January 2013 and 2014?
As we mentioned in several previous emails and e-Tips, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) has established two major deadlines for mailers and shippers to convert to Intelligent Mail®. The first is January 2013, at which time Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) will be required for mailers in order to continue receiving automation discounts, and for shippers (you all need the IMpb – see below) to be able to continue receiving shipment tracking information and, for some shippers, presort and destination pricing. The second deadline comes along in January 2014 when the USPS will require the use of Intelligent Mail Full-Service to be eligible for automation discounts.
Homework assignment for this week: calculate your mailing and/or shipping costs without the discounts you are currently getting. See if those numbers don’t raise a red flag or two at your office. If you feel like sharing your findings, email us at
Bottom line: You can’t afford to procrastinate any longer! Get started implementing Intelligent Mail right now! The longer you wait – the more it will cost and the more damage it will do to you.
If you ship using USPS shipping services, you should be working with your shipping service providers and software vendors NOW to get converted to the Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) on your shipping labels. In January 2013, the IMpb will be required in order for shippers to obtain shipment tracking information. Keep in mind that when you convert to the IMpb, you need to get RE-CERTIFIED with the USPS, both for your label format and your electronic file transmission format. This process can take some time, so you definitely do not want to wait until the last minute. Keep in mind that the January 2013 deadline is the same time that the USPS price increase goes into effect, so everyone will be very busy, particularly the USPS and your shipping service providers and software vendors. If you ship items using Window Book’s Postal Package Partner software (PPP), please contact our technical support group for assistance with this re-certification. So, don’t delay! Contact us today! (By the way, if you don’t use PPP, you can contact us, too.)
Mailers should also be working with their mailing service providers and software vendors to get ready for these deadlines. The first step is to make sure that you are transitioning the barcodes on all your mailpieces from the old POSTNET barcode to the Intelligent Mail barcode. This applies to all of your mailpieces, so don’t forget about your infrequent mailings, reply mail pieces, and other items that might easily fall through the cracks.
Step 2 is to start submitting electronic documentation (eDoc) - if you are not already doing so. If you are currently submitting eDoc, but only for your Full-Service mailings, you need to be doing so for all your mailings. (Think about it… why enjoy the benefits of eDoc and PostalOne! on only a portion of your mail?) The best way to do this is to start submitting these jobs using the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) on PostalOne! Once you have successfully tested these mailings, you can start submitting them in the production environment of PostalOne! and reap the benefits of eDoc on everything you mail.
Reasons NOT to delay
Again, DO NOT delay getting started down this path. January 28, 2013 (the actual implementation day) is less than 3 months from now – and January 2014 a short 15 months away! So while Intelligent Mail may only appear to be a snowball rolling down the hill now, very soon you could look up and see an avalanche! This is no joke and there is no indication from the USPS that they will back off from these deadlines. (In fact, at a recent IDEAlliance® Postal Operations and Technology Committee meeting, USPS Vice President Jim Cochrane said “January 2014. We’re not backing off it.”) Granted, they have postponed similar deadlines in the past, but this time their very financial future is at stake. Any more delays for them could cost them billions of dollars, which, in turn, would cost you.
As mentioned above, both of these deadlines are at the same time as the annual USPS price increases occur. USPS pricing increases are a challenging time of the year, with lots of changes going on with Mail.dat® file specification changes, software updates, mailing and shipping schedules altered to take advantage of the current prices before they increase, and so on. Not only is it a bad idea to try to make the Intelligent Mail conversion during these time frames, but all resources that can assist with this conversion will be tied up. These resources include not only the USPS, but also software vendors, mail service providers, and shipping service providers. The longer you delay, the less likely you will be able to tap into these resources, or at least not in a timely manner. Not to mention the fact that the end of the calendar year tends to be the height of the mailing and shipping season, so resources are already tight - regardless of any postal changes that might be looming.
Many mailers and shippers will, despite recommendations to the contrary, delay their Intelligent Mail conversion process to the last minute. This alone will tie up the valuable resources that can assist with this conversion, so don’t be caught up in this last-minute push.
Coming Soon: Window Book’s “Preparing for 2013 & 2014 Intelligent Mail Deadlines” webinar on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.
Mailers and shippers who wait too long will face some serious consequences if their conversions are not complete before the deadlines. Shippers will not be able to get their shipment tracking information, not at any price. Mailers will be faced with paying huge postage increases if they are no longer eligible for automation discounts. This will be on top of the normal USPS postage increases which are now implemented in January each year. This type of postage increase can be crippling, if not fatal, for mailers and/or mail service providers. Don’t let yourself become a casualty.
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