As reported previously, not only does POSTNET no longer earn automation discounts effective January, 2013, but Basic IMb is also retired as of January, 2014.

Given the need for the USPS to have the capabilities that full-service IMb offers, it has stepped up its efforts to drive mailers to full-service. This is not surprising, as we've been hearing about the advantages that the full-service IMb offers the USPS and many mailers.

Beginning with the small and mid-sized mailers, the annual cost of manually processing over six million postage statements exceeds $100 million and, according to the USPS, must be reduced. However, the challenge in getting these small and mid-sized mailers to utilize the capabilities of the full-service IMb has been the lack of incentive, the on-boarding process, and the overall education required to successfully complete the process.

Even in cases of full-service IMb software for low volume mailers that was bundled and made available at no additional product cost, mailers had a reluctance to go through the laborious process of using full-service. Based on the difficulty in onboarding and the overall process, the USPS has been working with the vendors as part of the Mailers Technical Advisory Workgroup (MTAC) to develop an easier means of using full-service for these mailers. One of the major improvements under consideration is having vendors of PAVE (Presort Accuracy Verification and Evaluation) software certify their full-service IMb software directly with the USPS.

Once the vendors certify their software with the USPS, the customers using this software would not have to recertify that the software using the Test Environment for mailers system (TEMS). This will save a significant amount of time in submitting full-service mailings. Continued effort is also being made to reduce the complexity and education required to create and induct full-service mailings for mailers of all volume ranges. For example, the USPS is enhancing Postal Wizard to provide full-service IMb statements for mailings of less than 10,000 pieces. Stay tuned as we can expect changes to encourage small and mid-sized mailers to implement full-service sooner rather than later as the full-service requirement isn't that far away (January, 2014).

For mid-sized and up to enterprise level mailers, the USPS is continuing their work on Seamless Acceptance and eInduction.

Seamless Acceptance--What's in it for Me? The benefits to the USPS for Seamless Acceptance are significant in terms of reducing the costs associated with inducting mailings. Those companies that participated with the USPS as part of a pilot effort have also determined that there were several costly steps removed from the process when implementing Seamless Acceptance. So, everyone wins!

eInduction is another full-service initiative and one that we haven't touched on much previously. eInduction is the electronic induction process that leverages existing electronic documentation, Intelligent Mail barcodes, and handheld scanner technologies to verify payment for the mail at a container level and ensure the containers are inducted into the correct destination facility. Increased use of electronic data through the eInduction program will reduce the dependence on paper-driven processes, directly reducing the amount of manual validations conducted on shipments at destination plants and reducing paperwork and work hours for PS Form 8125/8017 preparation at DMUs. eInduction is currently pilot testing the functionality to allow a paperless induction process, including testing of Surface Visibility (SV) device functionality, user training, ongoing system tests, and positioning for national deployment.

The USPS will continue to make it easier and more attractive for mailers to consider all the benefits of using full-service IMb. In addition to the operational benefits that full-service mailers enjoy, there are hints that the current full-service IMb discounts will be increased. We don't know if, when or how much for sure, but it would likely be announced later this year in preparation for the 2013 rate changes. Now that the full-service IMb is required for automation rates by January, 2014 (and for any future mail promotions beyond the 2012 mobile barcode incentive), why wait? Migrate now and take advantage of the added value and free visibility that full-service IMb delivers.