One of the most dramatic postal changes in recent years will take effect January 28, 2013, when the POSTNET barcode is officially retired. On that date, mailers looking to take advantage of automation rate discounts will be required to generate the new Intelligent Mail® barcode.
No one should be surprised by this news.
The Intelligent Mail® initiative was announced ten years ago. Some mailers have been using the new barcode for over six years already. Billions of mail pieces have been sent using the IMb™, and these early adopters have saved money and gained increased visibility into the mailstream.
If you are still sending your mail using the POSTNET barcode—or worse, are not using barcodes at all—here’s some great news: taking advantage of all the Intelligent Mail® benefits is easier than you think. However, it can take a few months to get everything in place, so the time to move is now.
This change impacts all USPS mail classes and categories. After the deadline, the IMb will be required for discounts on letters, flats, postcards, business reply mail and permit reply mail.
- First-Class Mail® letters and flats
- Standard Mail® letters and flats
- Periodicals letters and flats
- Bound Printed Matter flats
- Business and Permit Reply Mail
Enjoy bigger discounts and increased mail visibility
The Intelligent Mail® barcode is a more advanced, information-rich postal barcode. Depending on your mail characteristics, automation-rate discounts can save you between 10 to 50 percent on postage.
Full-service IMb also offers new levels of visibility into mailing operations as each mailpiece is tagged with a unique identifier. More than just an opportunity to save money, the IMb lets you monitor the flow of mail, track incoming remittance payments, receive automatic notifications when customers move and measure USPS performance.
Getting started is easier than you think
The USPS lowered the threshold for automation discounts to 500 pieces, making it easier for small companies to save money just like the big guys.
The first step is to make sure that your mailing software can generate the data required to print barcodes according to IMb specifications. Since this barcode was launched in 2006, new software has been perfected that is easy to install and operate.
You can choose to keep it basic, or you can take advantage of a variety of USPS® business services that add even more value to Intelligent Mail. There may be IMb services you don’t need now, but you may in the future, and the right organization can help set up your account strategically. Mailing experts like Pitney Bowes can provide appropriate guidance and support to make things easy for you, and show you how to obtain a Mailer ID from the USPS.
By making the move soon, you can work with your postal acceptance specialist (or certification process administer) at the post office to ensure your barcodes are readable and formatted correctly. This can help avoid delays on potential penalties down the road. Usually, full-service IMb integration requires a 60 to 90 day process, so you’ll need to start now to get at least one test run under your belt before the January 2013 deadline. With Pitney Bowes and IMb, you’ll gain added control and visibility into your mail—and achieve significant savings. So, there’s no reason not to get started today.