By now, you should already be producing the basic Intelligent Mail barcode on all automation eligible mail pieces. However, basic is just the beginning. Effective in January 2014, the USPS will require Full Service Intelligent Mail barcodes for automation rate eligibility and that has many mailers concerned and confused. Fortunately, stepping up to Full Service IMb is really just three simple steps.
Step 1: Produce a readable Intelligent Mail barcode. You should already be at this step now. But to ensure your barcodes are readable and have actionable information "baked"âÂ into them, you might want to look into some quality assurance devices. Visual indicators such as reticles, hand-held scanners, and inline as well as offline barcode verification devices are all available to assist in ensuring readable Intelligent Mail barcodes.
Step 2: Make the Intelligent Mail barcode unique. It may surprise you to know that it is very likely your current software solution already has the ability to generate a unique serial number for all your piece and container barcodes. So, find out how to turn it on and take this next simple step towards Full Service IMb!
Step 3: Switch to eDocs and ePayment with PostalOne! This last and final step to Full Service IMb has been greatly simplified. Mail.dat is the most widely used way to submit electronic postage statements to the USPS for mailings over 10,000 pieces. Adding the option or turning it on if you already have it is often a quick phone call away. And now that software vendors can directly provision User License Codes for Mail.dat on behalf of IDEAlliance and the USPS has simplified TEM testing to a "one and done"âÂ approach by sending only one sample Mail.dat file from USPS certified software, this last approval step can be done in a single day. Details about using PostalOne! are available on the USPS Business Customer Gateway, on RIBBS (ribbs.usps.gov), or from your certified software provider.
Full Service IMb is coming and by preparing for it now, you not only get an opportunity to earn additional postage discounts, you also gain the enhanced accountability, visibility, and predictability of mail that only Intelligent Mail barcodes can provide.
Christopher Lien is Vice President, Software Marketing, Bell and Howell.