It's All About the Barcodes
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) made two major announcements this week, both regarding the use of barcodes. First, the USPS plans to retire the POSTNET barcode by January 2013, and the USPS will be repeating the Mobile Barcode Incentive this summer, which requires use of mobile barcodes on mailpieces. This was a very popular postal incentive in 2011, and the USPS hopes to increase mail volumes again this coming summer by offering this incentive again.
POSTNET Barcode to Retire
Effective January 2013, mailers who plan to claim automation discounts on their mail will need to use the Intelligent Mail® barcode and use at least the Basic service level of Intelligent Mail to do so. Mailers will no longer be able to use the POSTNET barcode to claim automation discounts as of January 2013. Then, in January 2014, the USPS takes this plan one step further by requiring the Full Service level of Intelligent Mail in order to qualify for automation discounts. Essentially at that point the Intelligent Mail Basic Service will be retired.
New Mobile Barcode Incentive
The USPS also announced this week that they will offer a Mobile Barcode incentive to mailers starting on July 1, 2012 and continuing through August 31, 2012. The incentive consists of a 2% up-front discount off of eligible postage. This incentive has yet to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), but based on the success of last year’s similar incentive, that approval is expected to come quickly. The incentive will be available on Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats and cards that contain a mobile barcode or similar print technology that can be read and scanned by a mobile device. The technology must lead the recipient to:
- A webpage that allows the recipient to purchase a product or service on a mobile device OR
- A personalized URL, which is a webpage that is unique to an individual recipient.
Eligibility for the incentive includes Standard Mail letters and flats, Non-profit Standard Mail letters and flats, First-Class Mail presort and automation letters, cards, and flats.
Mobile Barcode Incentive Requirements
To be eligible for the incentive, mailers must register for participation on the Business Customer Gateway. Registration for participation will start in advance of the actual promotion, with registration beginning on May 1, 2012. Other requirements for eligibility for the incentive:
- Submit mailings electronically via Mail.dat™, Mail.xml or Postal Wizard.
- All mailpieces in a mailing statement must be eligible for the promotion.
- Discount must be claimed at the time of mailing; no rebates at a later date.
- Mail must be tendered for acceptance during the promotion period of July 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012. Qualified Plant Verified Drop Shipment (PVDS) mailings verified and paid for by August 31 will be accepted at destination entry postal facilities through September 15, 2012.
- All automation mailpieces must contain an Intelligent Mail barcode. Postage must be paid via permit imprint or precancelled stamp permit. The USPS is working on allowing meter mail to participate as well, but that is not yet finalized. OMAS and "Official Government Mail" mailings are not eligible.
- At the time of mail acceptance, a hard copy, unaddressed sample of the mailpiece must be submitted to the acceptance clerk. If multiple mailers are represented in the mailing, a sample of each mailer’s mailpiece must be presented. If mobile personalization is used, at least two samples must be provided in order to demonstrate that the web addresses are unique. All samples must be retained by the mailer until October 31, 2012 and must be provided to the USPS upon request.
Mail Content Requirements
The mobile barcode must be a two-dimensional barcode or similar technology which takes a consumer to a mobile optimized web site that either enables mobile commerce or is personalized for the recipient. The mailpiece must also contain text near the barcode or image providing guidance to the consumer to scan the barcode or image.
For mobile commerce technology:
- The destination web pages must contain information relevant to the content of the mailpiece, and some of all of the services and/or products advertised in the mailpiece must be available for purchase on a mobile device.
- The destination web pages must reside on a web site platform that contains or is deeply integrated with a checkout functionality so that consumers can complete the purchase of goods or services referenced in the mailpiece through a complete mobile optimized experience.
- Web sites use for e-bill payment of prior purchases or regularly scheduled payments for goods and services are NOT eligible for the promotion.
For mobile personalization technology:
- For each mailpiece recipient, the web address is unique to the recipient, as is the content of the web page.
- Unique web page content is based on relevant customer data such as prior behavior, life stage, segmentation, and demographics.
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