For quick printers looking for an overview of the steps required for adding mailing services, Mail Shop in a Box adequately fills the bill. It introduces the reader to the topics of mail list management software, address quality, mail piece design, equipment, and staff training. The information is current as of 2008.
More Info Needed
But this is a relatively short read—less than two hours—and therefore is limited regarding the amount of information that could be included. For example, the section on mail list management software explains the importance of PAVE and CASS certification, but does not suggest any other criteria for selecting software. And since the interactive link is, appropriately, to the USPS listing of manufacturers whose products are PAVE and CASS certified, the criterion discussed in Mail Shop in a Box is met by all vendors and, therefore, provides no distinction among them.
Similarly, the discussion on equipment emphasizes that bindery equipment commonly found in a print shop is also found in a mailing industry lettershop, but doesn't discuss the space requirements for additional equipment such as an inkjet addresser and tabber nor the space required to stage mail during processing. For printers whose floor space maybe full of equipment already, this is important information.
Mail Shop in a Box also omits three topics that I believe are crucial to success: postage management, data protection, and archiving and mail processing production control. These are management level topics that print shop owners need to understand and require of their employees. Failure to implement any of them risks a severe compromise to the efficiency and profitability of the mailing operation. My preference would be to substitute these topics for Mail Shop in a Box's first step of developing a strategic plan for adding mailing services.
Mail Shop in a Box also suffers slightly from having been written from the perspective of a mailing professional. There are parts of the text where the jargon of the USPS was not sufficiently translated so as to be easily understood by someone unfamiliar with mail classification or postage rates. This might be intentional, however, since the audience for the product may principally be the "partial services" mailer who has some familiarity with the topics.
Despite these shortcomings, overall, I found Mail Shop in a Box to be a solid source of mailing information. It is factual, adequately provides an overview of how to add mailing services, and provides two very useful tools in the shape-based postage booklet and remade template. For digital printers already offering partial mailing services and wishing to expand into full service, the guide will prove very useful. For printers unfamiliar with mailing and seeking to get a grounding, the program will be less appropriate.
To learn more about Mail Shop in a Box, visit www.xerox.com and enter Mail Shop in a Box in the search window.
Nancy DeDiemar is the president of Printing Resources of Southern California, a quick print shop in Upland, CA, offering printing, copying, electronic prepress, and mailing services. Nancy is the co-publisher of Printips (www.printips.com), a newsletter subscription service for printers. Contact her at Nancy@printingresources.com.