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Where is my mail?

Production Solutions

We are already deep into the fall mailing season! The large volume of marketing mail, alongside election mail, and let’s not forget hurricane season, make it more important than ever to know where your mail is. With postage accounting for a whopping 30-70% of a campaign’s budget, taking control over both how your campaigns are mailed and what happens once that campaign is in the mail undoubtedly resides at the top of the list.


Prior to entry mail discounts, mailers had only one option, to drop at their local post office as there were no drop shipping or commingling services. And while in some cases local origin is still the best way to mail, at PS we find a blended approach tends to be the right fit for our clients. By optimizing how we mail, we can identify and pass along budget-saving postal discounts to our clients. Postal discounts really come down to this fundamental idea: the more work you do FOR the USPS, the greater the discount they will extend. This starts with basic presorting, and extends to leveraging mail volumes to create truckloads of mail that travel to individual postal processing facilities.

So what might an optimized mailing look like? For many nonprofits commingling the mail is the best approach. In other cases, leveraging drop shipping, co-palletizing, or even a blended hybrid approach of all three, may be their best bet. For those who aren’t postal experts (as in 98% of the population), here’s a basic outline of each of these services:


Commingling is the most prevalent way that nonprofit organizations obtain postal discounts. Individual mailpieces from multiple different mailings are sorted together and placed in trays bearing the same destination SCF or NDC. Those trays are then combined on pallets and handed off to a logistics company for transport and delivery to the post office. This service is available for first class and marketing mail letters and in some cases flats.

Drop Ship

Mail pieces from a single mailing are sorted, trayed and placed on pallets that are picked up by a logistics company. The logistics company then transports the mail to the destination USPS facility, bypassing one to three postal facilities. This service is available for marketing mail letters and flats.


This involves mail pieces from multiple different mailings sorted at the tray level. Trays bearing the same destination SCF or NDC are combined on pallets and then handed off to a logistics company for transport and delivery to the post office. This option is only available for marketing mail letters.


So, your mail has been sorted and is in the hands of the logistics carrier or the USPS, now what? These days, with the logistics industry and USPS’s continuing efforts toward more transparency, along with the rapid adoption of new technologies, gives us the ability to look behind the curtain, and in some cases, take more control over what happens to our mail AFTER the mail date.

Enter informed visibility data. The USPS has enormous volumes of real time scan data, in many cases so granular that it is down to the minute. For example, when a mailer has an appointment to enter mail at a USPS processing facility, that is a data collection point. And another collection point when the USPS recognizes that they have actually received that mail. And it won’t stop there! The USPS has made great strides over the last several years in collecting information around where a single piece of mail is, in the near future we will even be able to see the GPS data as to where a mail carrier is on their route. Even though access is provided to this expanding cache, the volume and complexity of this data are so great that organizations in the mailing industry are still determining how to best utilize and apply this information.

At PS, we review trace reports from our commingling and logistics partners. These allow us to track where mail is while it is in transit to the destination USPS facilities. In addition our daily mail tracking software analyzes relevant data points collected by the USPS and condenses them into meaningful reports. These reports help us to identify important trends in mailing, and inform our clients, allowing them to take action on mailings that are in process as well as upcoming campaigns. So from the moment it leaves the mailshop until it hits the mailbox, we know where it is.

If you aren’t working with a partner to optimize your postal savings or better track and analyze your mail delivery, reach out to PS today!