Archive for May 21st, 2010

Confirm competition ahead?

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From the MFSA Publication Postal Points, with permission:

Confirm competition ahead?

The Postal Service is moving toward capitalizing on the wealth of information it develops from processing mail bearing intelligent mail barcodes. Knowing mail movement virtually down to the mailpiece level is important to the Postal Service for its own management purposes. However, it’s perhaps more valuable to mail owners, mail producers, marketers, and others having to know when messages arrive in customers’ hands. As a result, various commercial service providers have used the Postal Service’s raw data to produce reports for mail owners, giving them visibility into the movement and delivery of their mailings. Understandably, rumors of the Postal Service offering a comparable service were not well received by these companies, so comments verifying the rumors promise further tension.

As reported by PostCom, USPS SVP Intelligent Mail and Address Quality Tom Day told attendees at the IDEAlliance conference in early May that the Postal Service is building an analytic system that will allow USPS operations to view and drill down into IMB Full Service data to monitor and improve service.

Of concern to commercial service providers, Day added that the agency also plans to offer customers access to a modified version of that system giving them visibility into their own Full-Service data. Day said the USPS still is deciding how to market that access, and whether it would be included as part of some services or offered as an add-on with an associated fee. Day also told conference attendees that the USPS soon will be announcing a new organizational structure with a dedicated vice-president whose responsibilities will include all product tracking/scanning. “Instead of just talking about the Postal Service becoming a world-class scanning organization, we will have an organizational structure to get that to happen,” he said

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My comments?  As a Confirm and ACS service provider, of course the idea of directly competing with the Postal Service is certainly a concern.  However, there are several mitigating factors that keep me from getting too worried right away.  One is that Mail service providers and many users of Confirm service have been utilizing Confirm for years, and provide tested, tried, and true working solutions.  The USPS would have a lot of catching up to do.  Also, the USPS has a tendency to beta test on their customers.  Ask any Periodicals mailer using Full-Service ACS how the start up process went for them in recouping their Full-Service investments.  Enough said.

The only real worry I have is that the USPS respects the partner/service providers, the ones that have been selling their products for them for the past decade, enough to maintain a level playing field.  We will be monitoring activities and developments carefully, and working directly with the Postal Service to ensure that Confirm is not cannibalized or devalued in any way.

Confirm growth is inevitable, and will benefit everyone – including the Postal Service – in a big way.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

May 21st, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Posted in USPS

Postal Rates Headed Higher — Again

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Come January, mailers will have to pony up more for postage. In the cards: A 2¢ hike in the price of first-class stamps — to 46¢ each — and up to a 5% boost in postage for magazines, catalogs and bulk mail.

Postal Rates Headed Higher — Again – Kiplinger.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

May 21st, 2010 at 10:08 am

Posted in USPS

USPS FAST Webinar Today

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The Postal ServiceTM is offering a webinar about the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST®) system today, Friday, May 21, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST.

Learn about many benefits of FAST for both drop-shipped and origin-entered mailings, including a simplified process for scheduling and managing appointments, streamlined data maintenance and a reduction in overall appointment wait times. This overview will include a walk-through of the FAST application detailing appointment scheduling procedures and reporting features. The webinar also will outline FAST appointment requirements for Intelligent Mail® Full Service mailers.

A question-and-answer session through the “chat room” will follow the FAST presentation.

You don’t need to register for this webinar. To participate, simply follow the instructions below.

Audio only:

§  Dial 877-512-0764, meeting ID: 2778118

Web conference with audio:

§  Go to: http://meetingplace5.usps.gov/join.asp?2778118

§  After the MeetingPlace window opens, click the phone icon (under the participant list or in the upper right-hand corner).

§  Click Connect Me and validate your phone number, or update your phone number and click Connect Me again.

§  When the MeetingPlace system calls you on your phone, press #1 to join the FAST webinar.

If you have any questions, contact the FAST help desk at fast@usps.gov.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

May 21st, 2010 at 9:59 am

Posted in USPS