On May 14, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will enact shape-based postage. For the first time, postage rates will reflect the fact that certain types of mail require higher processing costs. First-class mail will see an average increase of 7 percent across the board, but postage rates for certain classes of mail—flats and parcels—will rise as much as 40 percent to 60 percent.
However, the new system includes pricing incentives to encourage mailing efficiency, giving businesses an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the impact of the new pricing system. Bob Makofsky, general manager for Conformer Expansion Products, Great Neck, N.Y., pointed out that there are a wide range of creative solutions to reduce the impact of the impending rate hike. He offered the following tips to minimize postage under shape-based pricing:
1. Downsize mail classification when possible. When mailing documents weighing up to 3.5 ounces, businesses can save $0.39 per mailing by folding the contents for insertion in a 6x9˝ envelope. Converting parcels to flats, up to 13 ounces, produces similar savings. Pharmaceutical companies can replace boxes with flats by using blister packs instead of bottles. Likewise, companies that send personal checkbooks and boxed greeting cards in the mail can save $0.33 per piece by eliminating the box. New envelope technologies offer a wide range of options for reconfiguring parcels to flats.
2. Eliminate wasted space and padding. The new USPS rates include guidelines for uniform thickness to foster machinability. Mailrooms often keep an inventory of padded envelopes and small boxes to mail bulkier items, using fillers as needed. Because the USPS charged the same rate for a letter, flat or parcel, companies had no incentive to choose efficient packaging. Mailrooms now need to purchase more customized packaging instead of using a standard large mailer and filling in the void. Today, certain envelopes accommodate a greater range of capacities. These mailers may cost more initially, but they can ultimately save money by reducing postage costs and inventory requirements.
3. Discuss postage impact with creative departments. In the quest to create stand-out marketing materials, creative teams may design oversized publications or bulky dimensional mail. Creative departments can help minimize the impact of the rate hike by working within the new postage guidelines. Designers should consider the primary distribution method for each piece. If a brochure is hand delivered by the sales team, then a letter-size piece may make sense. But, if the brochure is a direct-mail piece, the design team should consider a digest-sized format. Mailing the smaller size as a three-ounce letter costs $0.75, versus $1.14 for a comparable flat—a savings of $3,900 on a mailing of 10,000.
4. Be open to new ideas. Postal customers need to use creativity to take advantage of efficiency incentives. Some fulfillment and mail-supply companies have spent months preparing for the pricing restructure, and they can provide guidance on reducing postage costs, based on a firm’s current mail requirements.
For more information, visit www.conformerinc.com or call (516) 504-6300.