The Role of a Mailshop!
The role of a mailshop is multifaceted. A mailshop is a company that specializes in preparing direct mail packages for mailing. After all the strategy preparation, the client has supplied data, and PS has managed the printed components, everything finally comes together at the mailshop. Production Solutions’ mailshop partners are production, postal, and logistics experts that have the capabilities to ensure our clients’ direct mail projects are completed on time and within budget.
PS’ unique ability is that we evaluate our clients’ programs and custom choose what mailshop will fit best with your program. The following capabilities are among the capabilities that mailshops can perform – not all mailshops do that same thing, so PS takes the time to explore what partnership will be right for you.
- Compliance with USPS regulations (to ensure the correct postage rate)
- Data Processing (assigning barcodes to each name, and performing address hygiene to ensure delivery)
- High-speed imaging, laser and/or inkjet (lasering any variable copy that is personalized)
- Trimming & Folding
- Stamping and Labeling
- High-speed inserting
- Freight Logistics
- Collating (taking multiple sheets and putting them together so that they are one piece)
- Poly bagging / Shrink wrapping
- Tabbing (sealing the piece in a specific way)
- Hand Assembly
There are several quality control measures clients should expect from both mailshops and PS.
Print Delivery Confirmation
Delivery is the last step where we might catch some print errors or quality issues. When mailshops check inventory, they confirm when it was received, what was received, and the condition it arrived. They also spot check for quality (no damage, inks are consistent, etc.). If there is damage and/or quality issues, we may have time to do a rush reprint. Prior to the print delivery, PS Account Managers are often sent print samples to review and will help to resolve any issues efficiently.
Another measure the client should expect from mailshops are a series of audit reports that are run to confirm the data is good or if there are anomalies that need to be resolved. If the data has not already been run through CASS and/or NCOA, the data is processed to ensure USPS compliance. (CASS and NCOA are 2 processes the mailshop will run the data through in order to enhance deliverability. CASS may update addresses to match the USPA database and NCOA will update the addresses of donors or prospects that have moved.) PS reviews the audit reports to ensure counts and codes match the clients’ expectations, and that there are no blank or missing fields within the data.
Setups (any component that is personalized for a specific package version) are a quality control measure that PS and mailshops will take in order to ensure the correct data segments and copy versions are being used. Mailshop choose live records for each package and generate setups for components that get personalized. PS reviews the setups for copy version and format, source codes, IMBs, etc.
Laser/Bindery, Insertions, Match Integrity, and Lives
When the job is in production, mailshops will periodically check components as they are imaged, folded, and produced prior to inserting. If it is a match job, the mailshop will ensure match integrity as a quality control measure. Insertions, (deconstructed packages to confirm the actual correct components for each package are being used), are carefully monitored by the mailshop. This is especially important if there are several components that look similar but have different codes. PS confirms postage treatment, insertion order, and how the components face in the envelope. Lives (actual mail pieces [deconstructed] pulled from the production line) are sent to PS as one final check before staged for mailing.
Communication is Key
Clear communication is the most important aspect that PS provides to the mailshop for the client. All information has an impact and must be followed perfectly to produce the direct mail job successfully.
A Production schedule is crucial when working with a mailshop. The schedule sets expectations for the client, PS, and the mailshop to ensure the mail date(s) stay on track. If PS is producing a perpetual mail program, estimated mail volume and mail dates should be sent to the mailshop as early as possible to reserve machine time. The mailshop will advise the dates they would like print, data, and postage. On the other hand, if PS is producing a new job, it’s always a good idea to schedule a meeting with the mailshop to discuss job specs. Sometimes, when a mailshop quotes preliminary job specs and is awarded the job, final specs may differ slightly are regrouping. Pricing could be affected, so this is an opportunity to confirm if the job needs to be requoted (and if schedules need to be revised).
Providing a detailed list of printed material (supplied by PS) to the mailshop is very important. The details include component versions and codes, quantities per version, and ETA.
The final piece of information that is significant to provide when PS is sending items over to the mailshop is detailed instructions. PS’ mailshop partners are as good as the instructions PS provides. Our job management system is a wonderful tool and continues to evolve for the benefit of PS and our print and mailshop partners. PS Account Managers’ historical knowledge of perpetual jobs and any special requirements or processes that are needed for newer jobs are especially helpful to the mailshop.
This is all what PS specializes in, and our production teams are experts – partnering with PS is a unique value because we take care of all of this for you, ensuring that everything goes seamlessly due to our trusted, strong relationships with our many mailshop partners.