In order to build and run a successful enterprise, you have to consider all of your business functions. Financial records must be diligently kept. Recruiting and retaining quality employees is crucial. Facilities and equipment must be well-maintained. And, most importantly, customers need to be satisfied with your products.


With so many different business functions to deal with, it sometimes makes sense to turn to trusted and experienced third parties to relieve the burden of dealing with non-core business functions, especially if those functions are actually taking away from your bottom line. As your business evolves and grows, it is a good idea to re-evaluate your current operations regularly to see if there are inefficiencies that can be remedied by outsourcing.


The mail center is one such area where inefficiencies may exist, and outsourcing some or all of your mailroom operations to a third-party provider may benefit your business. A review of your current mail center operations may indicate that you can save money by reallocating mail service resources, including employees, to other areas of the business and generate higher productivity.


However, outsourcing may not be the best course for every business. Consider the following to determine if outsourcing your mail center operations is right for your business:


Frequency and volume of your mailings: It may make sense to outsource if you are sending large volumes of mail frequently. For example, Alibris - an online media exchange that connects worldwide buyers and sellers of books, music, and movies - is consistently mailing large volumes of under-a-pound items. The company ships hundreds of thousands of books, music, and movies out of its Nevada distribution center each month, and this prompted management to investigate if outsourcing might allow them to cut costs and possibly reallocate resources currently used to mail its non-commercial, under-a-pound mailings. Alibris turned to a mail expeditor, to streamline its mail processing, with favorable results.


Alibris' situation is just one example of when outsourcing might make sense due to the frequency and volume of mailings. Maybe your company devotes considerable resources to a large mailing project only a few times a year. Does it make more sense to free up those resources for other core business functions by outsourcing to a mail expeditor? As you consider outsourcing, take a look to see if time spent on your mailings may be better spent elsewhere in the company.


Weight of your outbound mail: How much does your mail weigh? If the weight of your mail fits the requirements and regulations for U.S. Postal Service First Class mail, a mail expeditor may be a good fit. A mail expeditor may help you reduce costs and increase efficiency, while still offering timely delivery of your under-a-pound mail to your customers.


In Alibris' case, it utilizes the expeditor for under-a-pound, non-commercial mail. It relies on this expeditor for day-to-day package deliveries of orders fulfilled in its Nevada warehouse and destined primarily for commercial U.S. buyers, such as libraries and retail partners.


Your mail's final destination: Do you regularly mail overseas, or are your mailings primarily destined for domestic destinations within the United States? Your business may be similar to Alibris, which processes a combination of domestic and international shipments. Its Nevada distribution center ships large domestic orders to libraries, wholesalers, and retailers, but it also serves as a "cross-docking" point for shipments from U.S. sellers to buyers around the world. The working relationship it has built with its expeditor allows it to meet both domestic and international shipping needs.


If your business also has mail being shipped from an overseas branch or warehouse to the United States, you may consider a third party that offers global supply chain management. The elongated, international supply chain can add costs and present troubles with Customs paperwork, so consulting a supply chain expert may be a sound decision. For example, Alibris relies on an outsourcer to handle its shipments from Western Europe to the United States, which require consolidation, repackaging, custom invoicing, and need to be brought overseas at the lowest cost.


The value of your mailings: For most, the bulk of their mail may be low-cost catalogues, brochures, or marketing materials, while others are mailing more valuable items. Either way, a mail expeditor can provide updates on mail-in-transit, offering visibility and a sense of security to its mail operations. Alibris, for example, occasionally ships collectible out-of-print books and rare manuscripts, so adding more visibility into their mailings was an attractive feature that the expeditor offered. 


Outsourcing is not a cookie-cutter solution for each business. However, after considering these factors and reviewing your mail operations, you probably have a better idea if outsourcing mail operations is right for your business.


The bottom line is: teaming with a trusted logistics partner that can offer traditional shipping services, mail expediting, and supply chain solutions can streamline your mail operations and allow you to focus on your core competencies.


John Walsh is Vice President of Business Development for UPS Mail Innovations and more information can be found at or by calling 1-800-500-2224.