The Secrets of Mail Success
Non-machinable letters are also those with an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1.3 or more than 2.5, as well as those enclosed in any plastic material, or having clasps, strings, buttons or similar closure devices. Letters containing items such as pens, pencils or loose keys or coins causing the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven are also problematic. Nor can the mailer be too rigid—to be machinable, it must bend easily when subjected to a transport belt tension of 40 lbs. around an 11" diameter turn.
Read ’Em and Weep
So, where does the new USPS rate structure leave mailers of catalogs and periodicals? Although online ordering is up, research shows consumers are still initially shopping for items from catalogs, and all the creative designs and folds in the world can’t help magazine publishers take advantage of letter-size discounts. “The PRC [Postal Regulatory Commission] really showed the wisdom of Solomon. Current periodicals’ rates allow or actually encourage a lot of mailer behavior that is inefficient and labor-intensive for the [USPS]. That has led to rapid increases in ... costs to handle periodicals, which in turn has driven large rate increases for periodicals,” commented Mark White, vice president, manufacturing, for New York-based U.S. News & World Report. “The PRC rejected the Postal Service’s ill-conceived proposal and laid the groundwork for periodicals’ rates that are aligned with the Postal Service’s costs. But the PRC did not move to fully cost-based periodicals’ rates yet because of the ‘rate shock’ that would cause some inefficient mailers.”
The upshot to the rate changes is incentives to merge mail streams, such as through co-mailing. Not only is the carrier-route discount higher, but the new bundle and container charges provide additional incentives to co-mail. “We recently consulted with another publisher that had numerous mail streams, and was therefore mailing inefficiently,” he continued. “We worked with the publisher to rationalize its versions, co-mail its copies and engage in better drop-shipping, resulting in reductions in postage costs of about $.09 cents per copy, or 25 percent of all postage costs. With the PRC rates, the cost gap between the way it used to mail and the way it mails today would be even wider.”