Everyone has heard the sad and largely misleading stories about the state of the United States Postal Service. The USPS® has image issues because it is misunderstood, under-appreciated and over-regulated.
In fact, it is one of America’s oldest, most respected institutions. It is also one of the most vital components of this country’s commerce-based economy.
Yes, the USPS is facing declining postage volumes. And yes, reduced volume has led the Postal Service to engage in some radical thinking (closing post offices) and float some game-changing ideas (reducing delivery days). Fortunately for American mailers large and small, the latter hasn’t happened.
There is no question that digital communication is a formidable delivery medium. However, there will always be a need to accommodate physical mail. Contemplating the postal service’s issues leads to a discussion involving two related topics: 1) the products that support postal customers and 2) the services that make the USPS’ job a little easier.
Appreciating the Esteemed Postage Meter
Among the many products on the market that support business mailers, none is more important than the venerable workhorse of the mail room, the postage meter. Anecdotal information and empirical statistics reveal a resurgent and growing appreciation of the postage meter’s perpetual ability to provide the USPS and customers worldwide with a necessary and useful form of technology.
Think about the tried and true postage meter. It is more than just a machine that prints pre-paid postage and enables its users to mail letters, large envelopes (flats) and or ship boxes through the mail stream. Meters have evolved into indispensable, pieces of technologically advanced machinery. That technology is ever evolving to support businesses that provide mail communication technology to 21st Century users.
Understanding Meter-Related Services
Mailing system companies provide essential functions and services to postal customers and the Postal Service itself. There’s folding letters, inserting letters into envelopes, weighing letters for accurate postage, printing and correcting addresses, and then, of course, stamping (metering) the mail and sorting the mail for delivery to the proper location.
In no way is this list a complete catalog of meters’ services. Nevertheless, it illustrates several important topics to think about as we witness the world of preparing, delivering and managing business communication evolve.
These basic functions have been part of the USPS’ standard operating procedures for many years, which proves that the meter is still relevant and necessary. Think of other familiar pieces of technology – cars for example. The postage meter, just like the automobile, is not the same today as it was when it was invented decades ago. The postage meter has evolved from a one-dimensional, utilitarian machine into an integral part of modern business and transactional commerce.
These functions and services are still vital to commercial communication because the business of mail is
still a potent, ongoing process for the USPS and its customers. The need for products that prepare, deliver and manage the mail is as strong today as it ever was. This need will continue into the future.
Ensuring Secure and Efficient Mail Movement
Today’s postage meters have progressed, improved and developed along with every other business machine. They are now digital products which incorporate unique barcodes to ensure that they can’t be duplicated without detection and they offer an available tracking feature that can report the mail piece’s location at any time. This increasing popular service transmits data to the USPS that tracks priority mail and other special products. Tracking technology helps ensure that mail, parcels and packages move through the system quickly and efficiently and arrive at their expected destination on time. After delivery, the sender can use online tracking technology to find the peace of mind he or she deserves by determining that his or her mail piece was delivered as promised.
Tracking is important because the USPS package business has shown consistent growth in recent years.
Meter manufacturers help the Postal Service achieve its package growth targets by providing new hardware and software solutions to meet the changing mailing industry needs.
Benefiting From Metered Mail
The benefits of metered mail are more valuable today than they ever have been. Meter-related technology is constantly and rapidly evolving to support 21st Century mailers’ business communications needs. Meter users are fully aware of the machine’s benefits.
- Convenience – Hassle-free processing close at hand. Postage can be paid quickly and easily from your desktop.
- Accurate Postage – Dynamic electronic scales ensure the right amount of postage is applied to every piece almost always without a break in your process.
- Security –Lost or stolen stamps cannot plague your business.
- Accounting – Today’s meters have multiple methods for you to track and account for your postage spend, either locally or online.
- Faster Delivery – Metered mail is processed through the mail stream faster because it does not require cancelling or additional handling by the USPS.
- Package Compatibility – Today’s meters can process, print pre-paid postage and provide accurate pricing for USPS package services.
- Free Advertising – You can increase brand awareness for your company by using the optional advertising opportunity which can be affixed to each piece of mail.
- Commercial-Based Pricing – Some meter customers earn package discounts as high as 15 percent for providing tracking to the USPS which ensures better control and easier processing.
- Business Image Enhancement – Metered mail suggest professionalism in the eyes of recipients. Businesses that do not use meters should take notice; they would profit from these meter-related benefits.
Postal Doom Predictions Are Wrong
The USPS recently recommended another benefit to reward meter users: discounts for pre-processing the mail. This idea has always been favored by the metering industry but didn’t gain traction until recently.
There is a good model for the meter discount paradigm. The United Kingdom has provided postage meter use discounts since 2008. And to encourage meter use, the Royal Mail has regularly increased the percentage discount that meter customers received.
Why should meter use trigger a discount? Because of the value the simple metering activity adds to the mail process. Postage meters streamline processing for the USPS. They eliminate the need for stamps to be printed. They shorten lines at post offices because they can be refilled via the Internet or by telephone. They process mail faster because metered pieces don’t have to run through the USPS’ cancelling machines.
Long Live the Meter
As the mailing industry has evolved, so has the postage meter. Meter manufacturers continue to provide products and services that the business community needs and wants. So is the postage meter dead? No! The old mid-century image of a clunky stamping mechanical meter is long gone. The digital, bar-code producing, software-driven, 21st century meter is a modern technology-infused wonder.
Before you decide you don’t need a postage meter in your business, take a step back and review where mail is today. Even though the world embraces the inevitable digital reality, technology still provides needed conveniences and services in the realm of physical mail. Just ask your GPS-controlled, crash-preventing, fuel-injected, electronic-ignition car how it feels compared to its early 20th century cousin, the Model A.
Call MCC’s Mailing Solutions Division today for more information on the right meter for your organization!