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Postal Updates

Our industry-leading experts in postage and package strategy give you the latest information on postal costs, rules, and regulations.

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Highlights of the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017

On January 31st the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee leaders introduced H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017. The bill addresses unfunded liabilities of the USPS®, makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation, all without additional borrowing capacity from the U.S. taxpayer. The legislation is outlined under four main sections; Title 1 – Postal Service Benefits Reform Title II – Postal Service Operations Reform Title III – Postal Service Personnel Title IV – Postal Contracting Reform Title I Postal Service Benefits Reform focuses on three significant employee benefit programs; the Health Benefit Program, Retiree Heath Care Benefit Funding Reform and Pension Funding Reform. Of significance is that the Postal Service Retiree Health Care Benefit Funding Reform Act addresses the prefunding schedule established in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Title II Postal Service Operations Reform allows the Postal Service to increase postal rates for market-dominant products by 2.15%, 1 cent, for a First-Class stamp. Of significant importance in the Nonprofit Mail Industry is that this Act eliminates state and national political committees’ eligibility for non-profit mail rates. In addition Title II includes: Language around the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) Rate Review which requires the PRC to complete its full review of the market-dominant rate system by January 1, 2018. It also establishes priority factors for consideration in the PRC’s rate review, including the Postal Service’s financial stability, the effect of rate increases upon users of the mail, the reliability of delivery timelines and service standards, the available alternative means of communicating and sharing information, and the requirement that all...

2017 USPS Direct Mail Promotions to Save You Money

  Are you still looking for new ways to improve your 2017 marketing efforts? The United States Postal Service (USPS) has made it easy to try new direct response engagement strategies with their 2017 Promotions and Incentives. Building on last year’s promotions, the USPS demonstrates the continued relevance of direct mail. It provides more opportunities for nonprofits and commercial organizations to engage with their audience. As our team of Resource experts previously announced, the 2017 USPS direct mail promotions continue to build on technology integration. Let’s take a look at which promotions you can take advantage of this year to enhance how consumers interact with your mailings: What are the 2017 USPS Promotions? Mobile Shopping (or charitable donation) An upfront 2% postage discount on mailpieces that include a mobile barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and leads the recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website or the ability to complete a financial transaction. NOTE: Charitable giving does qualify for this promotion so long as a hard copy certificate, voucher or thank you note is mailed to the donor or the mailpieces contain a BRM or CRM enclosure. Tactile Sensory Interactive Mailpiece Engagement   An upfront 2% postage discount on mailpieces that incorporate specialty inks, sensory elements, textural papers, and the use of folds or other dimensional elements that are interactive. Personalized Color Transpromo An upfront 2% postage discount on mailpieces that use dynamic/variable color print for personalized transpromotional marketing messages on bills and statements. Emerging and Advanced Technology Video in Print An upfront 2% postage discount on mailpieces that incorporate mobile-based technologies, such as Near-Field...

2017 USPS Postage Rates – What to Expect

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has submitted new 2017 postage rates with an effective date of Sunday, January 22, 2017. Download our 2017 Postage Rates Chart.  Below are a few of the upcoming changes: Standard Non-Profit Letters Local Entry rate decreased between 2.8-4.2%, depending on the tier. NDC & SCF Drop Shipping – pricing increased between 2.8-4.2%. Standard Non-Profit Flats Local Entry rate increased between 1.8-3.0% depending on the tier. NDC Drop Shipping – no change SCF Drop Shipping – pricing decreased between 0.5-1%. First Class Presort Letters Some of the pricing tiers went up and others went down, more than likely this will even off at around a 2% First Class Full Rate Letters and Flats (Under 1oz) Pricing increased by 4.26% First Class Presort Flats 5-Digit category rate increased between 1-2%, depending on the weight. The balance of the tiers did not change. BRE Reply Mail Increased between 1.6-4.5% To help you further plan your budget, download our 2017 Postage Rates Chart with the most up-to-date PRC rate information. Visit our Postal News blog for the latest news, insights and updates.  ...

Postage in 2017: The bottom line for your budget

Many of our clients are starting to budget for 2017, so I thought this would be the best time to make some 2017 postage predictions and give you an update on Postal Reform. There are currently many variables when it comes to this prediction; however, I believe it is fairly safe to budget for a 2% increase by January, with the potential for a mid-year increase in 2017. With the current postal regulations, the USPS can only increase postage by the consumer price index (CPI), which is currently .6%; however, we have several more months before the USPS would file for a January increase and there are many variables that affect CPI, making it a moving target and difficult to definitively pin down. Postal reform has been gaining some traction in Congress, but it is nowhere near finalized. There are several sections of the Reform Bill that make 2017 predictions challenging; for example, the current bill calls for a 2.15% postage increase (the true increase is 50% of the original Exigent Surcharge that was removed earlier this year) over all categories of mail. If that were to go into effect it would be in place of the 2017 CPI increase, not in addition to it. Additionally, the bill also requires the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to do a full audit on the current rates by the end of 2017. The goal is to allow the USPS and PRC to re-assess the rates to ensure each category/tier is properly balanced. These factors take time and could prolong a definitive answer on a postage increase, which makes budgeting difficult. A 2%...

2017 USPS Direct Mail Promotions build on technology integration

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has released the 2017 Direct Mail Promotions. Last year, technology integration made its debut in a big way. This year, the USPS looks to provide more opportunities for nonprofits and commercial organizations to engage constituents with direct response marketing. Below you will find a full list of the 2017 promotions as they stand now. As the PRC moves through its approval process, our team of Resource Experts, led by Darin Marks, will keep you updated on any changes or additions. Earned Value Promotion This credit applies to the mail owner’s permit account. It can apply to future First Class Presort or Standard Non-profit/Commercial Cards, Letters or Flats that are mailed using the same permit account.   Registration Period: November 15, 2016 – December 31, 2016 Promotional Period: January 1, 2017 – June 30, 2017 Discount: $.05 per BRM or CRM scanned Discount Administered: After the end of promotional period and once volumes are approved by mailer. Tactile Sensory Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion This promotion leverages the physical aspects of mail as well as the advances in print technology. Mailers who incorporate a multi-sensory experience in their mail piece may receive a postage discount.   Registration Period: December 15, 2016 – July 31, 2017 Promotional Period: February 1, 2017 – July 31, 2017 Discount: 2% of eligible postage Discount Administered: At the time of mailing Eligible Mail Classes: Standard Non-profit/Commercial Letters and Flats Postage Type: Indicia or Precanceled Stamps Pre-Approval Needed: USPS must review and approve the mailpiece design and technology concepts Emerging and Advanced Technology Video in Print Promotion This discount promotion encourages...

USPS officially submits new 2016 postage rates

Our Sr. Resource Manager Darin Marks has received official word that the United States Postal Service has submitted new 2016 postage rates with an effective date of Sunday April 10, 2016. To help you understand what these new rates mean for your 2016 budget, Darin has created tools to calculate your savings, update your budgets and plan the rest of your year. Use the PS|PS Digital Exigent Surcharge Rollback Savings Calculator to calculate average rate decreases per mail piece, and download the 2016 Postage Rates Chart for the USPS final PRC rates effective April 10, 2016. Our team will continue to provide updates to help you plan your year. Visit our Postal News blog and subscribe to the PS Insider for the latest news, insights and...

Postal Commentary: iPOST and the Exigent Surcharge

Postal rates, reform and regulation can be difficult to understand, especially when it comes to quantifying the impact on a nonprofit’s bottom line. Our Postal Expert Darin Marks sheds light on the pending iPost legislation and has created our Exigent Surcharge Rollback Calculator to help our partners calculate potential savings this year. This tool is designed to calculate estimated savings based on mail quantity and postage type. Though definitive rates are not yet available, we can help our nonprofit partners better understand the postal landscape as it stands now.  Let’s start with iPOST. iPOST stands for the Improving Postal Operations, Service and Transparency Act. It is a postal reform legislation created by the USPS and Senator Tom Carper (D – Del.). Here is a summary of the legislation from Senator Carper’s senate page. The immediate concern for nonprofits, and the mailing industry as a whole is in section 301 of the legislation. This section proposes that the Exigent Surcharge become permanent. To offset that, the Postal Service wouldn’t raise rates again until at least January 2018. However, the current USPS increase regulations are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which allows for a rate increase in January 2017 or, if the CPI remains flat, the increase may need to wait until 2018 anyway. This means the proposed offset isn’t as good as it sounds for the industry. Taking all this information into consideration, it’s important to remember this is just proposed legislation right now. My team (along with other industry leaders) is fairly confident that any changes are quite a ways off. The Senate & House of Representatives...

The 2016 USPS Direct Mail Promotions integrate technology to boost response rates

Each year, the United States Postal Service offers Direct Mail advertising promotions and incentives to help integrate digital & direct mail as well as mobile technology. 2016 will feature several new promotions that have the potential to increase nonprofit response rates. Senior Resource Manager Darin Marks and Account Strategist Leigh Janis have put together a summary of these promotions, details on getting involved, and the potential benefits our nonprofit partners could see this year:   Mobile Shopping (or charitable donation) Promotion  This upfront postage discount on mail pieces includes a mobile barcode (or print/mobile technology) that can be read or scanned by a mobile device, and leads the recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website or provides the ability to complete a financial transaction. Registration Period: May 15 – December 31, 2016 Promotional Period: July 1 – December 31, 2016 Discount: 2% of eligible postage Discount Administered: At the time of mailing Eligible Mail Classes: Standard Non-profit/Commercial Letters and Flats Postage Type: Indicia or Pre-canceled Stamps Pre-Approval Needed?: USPS must review and approve the mail piece design and mobile website /social media site Earned Value Promotion  This is a postage credit for each mail piece (BRM/CRM) scanned with an Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) counted during normal mail processing. Registration Period: February 15 – March 31, 2016 Promotional Period: April 1 – June 30, 2016 Discount: $.02 per BRM or CRM scanned OR $.03 per BRM or CRM scanned, if participated in 2015 and obtain more scans in 2016 than 2015 Discount Administered: After the end of promotional period and once volumes are approved by mailer. The credit will be applied to...

Coming this Spring: Exigent Surcharge Rollback

On January 12, Megan Brennan, Postmaster General, announced that the Postal Service was reviewing the rollback of the Exigent Surcharge; which should take effect the first week of April. The Exigent Surcharge was originally implemented in January 2014 and was a 4.3% increase to the 2013 rates (which allowed the Postal Service to recoup lost revenue due to the drop in mail volumes between 2007-2011) Even though the original surcharge was 4.3%, we won’t be seeing rates reduced by 4.3% at time of rollback. This is due to the fact that we’ve experienced two Consumer Price Index (CPI) postage increases; for which the surcharge is not applied. Therefore, the true calculation is to take the current rates and subtract the 2013 Exigent increase value. Below are a few examples of what the new rates will be: First Class Letter (under 1oz): $.47 (was $.49) First Class Flat (under 1oz): $.94 (was $.98) Average* First Class Presort Letter (under 2oz): $.399 (was $.416) Average* First Class Presort Flat (under 1oz): $.65 (was $.682) Average* Non-Profit Letter (under 3.5oz): $.159 (was $.164) Average* Non-Profit Flat (under 3.3oz): $.283 (was $.293) Average* Commercial Letter (under 3.5oz): $.274 (was $.283) Average* Commercial Flat (under 3.3oz): $.422 (was $.436)   *Average rates are 5-Digit and 3-Digit rate categories averaged   Want to stay on top of the postal industry with Darin? Subscribe to the PS Insider for the latest updates and...
Q1/Q2 2015 USPS Delivery Delays and What That Means for Your Q4 In-Home Date Planning

Q1/Q2 2015 USPS Delivery Delays and What That Means for Your Q4 In-Home Date Planning

Based on the current mail delivery trends and the recently released report by USPS Inspector General, Production Solutions is recommending adding ONE additional day to your in-home mail schedule/window and expectations. Here’s why! In Q1 & Q2 2015, 494 million pieces of mail were delivered “late” – this is a 48% increase over last year, reported by the Office of the Inspector General and the USPS. Several factors caused such large delays in mail delivery, including: 1) winter weather transportation disruptions 2) continued network/operational changes and 3) labor adjustments. The USPS dispatched special teams (Tiger Teams) to facilities with continued slow Service Standards in Q1 & Q2. There are still several facilities that continue to experience issues with overall volume capacity and USPS is currently addressing these situations. Production Solutions has been auditing Service Standards using IMb Tracking since 2010. Over the last 4 years we’ve seen a 2-day increase in Standard Bulk mail deliveries and a 1-day increase in 1st Class Presort. Comparing this year to last, we are seeing about a 1-day increase in delivery over last year in Standard Bulk mail – which is consistent with what has been reported by the USPS.   Moving Forward: The USPS is hopeful, as more mailers convert to Seamless Acceptance (method by which eDocs are filed, trucks are scheduled, postage is paid & verification happens) they will be able to better predict mail volume, and adjust staffing as needed. The USPS has stated they are ready for the increase in mail volumes going into the Fall season. Production Solutions is constantly keeping a pulse on the USPS industry trends so...

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