Gearing Up for Intelligent Mail
As we told you in an earlier Etip, the Postal Service™ is planning to "sunset" the POSTNET barcode in January 2013 in favor of the Intelligent Mail
® barcode in order to receive automation discounts. In 2014, they plan to take that a step further and require the use of Intelligent Mail
Full Service® to be eligible for automation discounts. Mailers who have found that the Intelligent Mail
discounts did not provide enough ROI to go down that path need to re-evaluate that ROI calculation in light of the potential of lost automation discounts. But once that is done, that path to Intelligent Mail
can be a little intimidating. The best approach is to take it a step at a time.
Intelligent Mail Barcodes
The first step is getting the Intelligent Mail
barcode on your mailpieces. The barcode not only needs to be printed on the mailpieces, but it needs to be readable and accurate. The USPS
provides assistance in this regard with online barcode guides
and Mailpiece Design Analysts
who can assist with mailpiece design. The USPS
can also assist with testing your barcodes
for readability and accuracy. Although uniqueness of barcodes
is not required for Intelligent Mail
Basic Service, we encourage mailers to make plans to incorporate unique mailpiece ID’s right from the start, since that is a requirement of Full Service. In addition to the barcodes
on the mailpieces, you will need to insure the correct Intelligent Mail
barcodes are included on the mail container labels, such as sack tags, tray tags, and pallet flags. There are numerous software companies and mail service providers who can assist with the mailpiece and container ID assignments, maintenance of uniqueness, and generation of mailpiece and container barcodes
Connect to the USPS
The next step in the process is to connect
with the USPS
to establish your account with PostalOne!, which is the web-based method for submission of electronic documentation (eDoc) to the USPS
. You can sign up for your account on the Business Customer Gateway
, where you will apply for a Mailer Identification number (MID) and a Customer Registration Identification (CRID). The MID uniquely identifies you as a mailer, while the CRID uniquely identifies your physical location. For example, a mailing company that has three physical mailing sites would have a single MID to identify them as a mailer, but would have three different CRID's, one for each physical mailing site.
has a specific area of PostalOne! that is reserved for mailers who need to practice submitting eDoc or test out new file formats or new mailing scenarios. This area is called the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM
). To better understand TEM
, we recommend that you read the TEM Guide for Mailers
, available on the USPS RIBBS web site
. This guide will help familiarize yourself with TEM
and the testing process. TEM
can be used for mailer’s own testing processes, or you can follow the certification process in the guide, which is required if you intend to take advantage of Full Service.
Electronic Document Submission
Once you have your account set up on PostalOne! and have read through the TEM
guide, you are now ready to start submitting some test documents. If you are a small volume mailer, you may be able to do this using the USPS
' Postal Wizard, which is an online postage statement form filler and transmission tool. Using the Postal Wizard does require manual keying of the postage statement data, so it is not practical for higher volume mailers.
Mailers with higher volumes will need to utilize software tools in order to efficiently transmit data. If you work with Mail.dat® files that require little, if any editing before submission, you may be able to send them directly from your presort software. However, if your mailing operation routinely needs to make edits to the Mail.dat files, such as updating for a final piece weight, adjusting mail dates, splitting files for multiple drop dates, drop ship analysis and entry point determination, and so forth, then you really need to use a Mail.dat editing software tool (such as Window Book's DAT-MAIL™) so these changes can be made quickly and easily and then the edited files transmitted to PostalOne!
As you go through the TEM testing process, you will also want to review your current mailing operations workflow and make any necessary adjustments to accommodate the eDoc submission. You may find that you will need to accommodate a mixture of hard-copy and eDoc submissions, at least at the beginning of your implementation of Intelligent Mail.
We recommend that mailers go through the full certification process in TEM, as this will expose you to all of the possible scenarios that you might encounter for the type of mailings that you produce. This will also make you eligible for Full Service. Even if you don't take advantage of any discounts, you will be ready for the changes in 2014. Once you have completed the certification process, you are now ready to submit eDoc in your live production environment.
Window Book offers some great resources for mailers as you head down this path. Check out our web site
to access white papers, recorded webinars, or to request a customized demonstration of our software solutions.
Don't miss out on our educational mailing webinars! Log on to our webinar registration site to sign up.
Mail.dat is a registered trademark of the International Digital Enterprise Alliance (IDEAlliance). DAT-MAIL is a trademark of Window Book, Inc.