This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Mailing Systems Technology.

Whether you are a drop shipping novice or have been drop shipping for years, there is an option that may be the best-kept drop shipping secret: Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD). Many mailers overlook this option, which can be extremely valuable for many situations. For example, if you think you don’t have enough drop ship volume to fill a truck — or even enough to send to a consolidator — PMOD may be an option to try. What about those last few residual sacks or trays from a larger mailing that you are drop shipping using your normal methods? Do you have pesky mail delivery complaints in certain areas of the country? How about wanting to improve the delivery time for your USPS Marketing Mail (formerly known as Standard Mail), but not being able to afford bumping it up to First-Class Mail? If you have ever run into these situations, PMOD may be just the solution you have been looking for.

What Is PMOD?

Priority Mail Open and Distribute is a USPS service offering that provides an alternate method of transporting drop shipped mail. Rather than using traditional transport methods (truck, rail, air freight, etc.) for drop shipping, this service allows mailers to use the expedited delivery service offered by Priority Express or Priority Mail to transport the smaller volume mail to additional postal entry points. To take advantage of this service, mailers place their prepared mail sacks or trays into special PMOD sacks or tray boxes, tagging these handling units with special PMOD tags. These tags indicate to the USPS that the mail inside the sacks or tray boxes is drop ship mail, which means it needs to be opened and then distributed as it would normally be processed, hence the name “open and distribute.”

Why Use PMOD?

Drop shipping mail can result in some nice postage discounts, or it can be an effective way to better control the in-home delivery date of mail. But some mailings just don’t lend themselves to the more traditional methods of transporting drop shipped mail from the original entry point to the destination entry post offices. Drop shipping traditionally involves the use of over-the-road or rail transportation to get the mail closer to the destination point. It works very well for many types of mailings, but smaller mailings make it tougher to take advantage of drop shipping benefits without paying high minimum charges to logistics providers. Since Priority Express has next-day delivery service and Priority Mail has two- to three-day delivery service, PMOD can be a very quick way to transport the mail to the additional entry points. This is ideal for time-sensitive mail or for delivery trouble spots.

Some typical users of PMOD are small volume mailers who just do not consistently have enough mail volume to meet the minimum shipment requirements of most logistics providers. Another common use is a mailer sending time-sensitive mailings, even though this mailer doesn’t have the budget for First-Class Mail prices. This type of mail can be prepared and paid for at USPS Marketing Mail prices, but using PMOD drop shipping can closely approximate the delivery service of First-Class Mail at a much lower price. Mailers who experience repetitive delivery delays to more remote areas, such as Alaska or Hawaii, often use PMOD to help improve delivery times. The same is true for Periodicals mail that encounters subscriber delivery complaints to certain geographic areas. Using PMOD for these cities can help eliminate those subscriber complaints. Even large mailings that use traditional drop ship methods use PMOD to handle those remaining few sacks or trays that would normally get entered at the origin.

This diagram shows the normal mail flow of origin entered mail using the red arrows.

Drop shipping using PMOD is shown by the green arrows in this diagram.

Jeff Peoples is founder and CEO, Window Book. With over 20+ years of innovative postal solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, he has done presentations at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum, and other industry and direct marketing events.