Archive of posts filed under the Industry Articles category.

Creative Drop Shipping

Mailers have to be creative these days to stay competitive. Drop shipping mail to additional entry points is one way of staying competitive because you save money on postage and have better control over in-home delivery. But, there may be situations where drop shipping is beneficial, and you just have not thought of using it. For example, if you think you don’t have enough volume to fill a truck or even enough to send to a consolidator, there may be another 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 Standard Mail®, but not being able to afford bumping it up to First-Class Mail®? If you have ever run into these situations, the answer just might be Priority Mail® Open and Distribute (PMOD).

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, airfreight, 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. Mailers can place their prepared mail sacks or trays into special PMOD sacks or tray boxes, and tag 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, and that 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 2- to 3-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.

Uses for PMOD
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 that just doesn’t have the budget for First-Class Mail prices. This type of mail can be prepared and paid for at Standard 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 for this mail 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.

Taking Advantage of PMOD
Window Book offers our DAT-MAIL™ post-presort software solution, with its PMOD export option, along with our Postal Package Partner™ solution to generate the special PMOD labels and tags. These solutions can make using this USPS service very quick and easy. We can even analyze your mailing files to determine how PMOD can benefit your mailing operation.

The USPS provides many resources for PMOD information, including both Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail options.

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Window Book can help you implement PMOD in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.
Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

Do YOU Have A Contingency Plan?

Have all the recent PostalOne!® outages and issues caught you off-guard? Were you wondering how you were going to process your mailings and not lose Full-Service discounts? Did you struggle trying to figure out how to properly process your mailings with hard copies? If so, you are not alone. This type of situation can occur not just when there is a PostalOne! outage, but when your own systems may not be operating as expected. Whether it is a server crash, a software hiccup, loss of internet service, or even bad weather or natural disasters, the fact is that “stuff happens” – and when it does, you need to be prepared. The key to managing situations like this is to have a good contingency plan documented, communicated and practiced so that any time something prohibits you from uploading files to PostalOne!, you will know exactly how to process your mailings and, more importantly, not lose any discounts. AND – you need to put this contingency plan in place NOW. Do not wait until you are in the middle of the outage and then start scrambling.

 

Read more:  http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Top Ten Reasons to Use eDoc

The value and benefits of using eDoc with the USPS® have been both documented and proven now for quite a while. Amazingly enough, however, there are still a lot of mailers who only use it for their Full-Service mailings. Even worse, there are just as many – or more – who don’t use it at all!

It is very clear that the USPS intends to eliminate hard copy postage statements and other documentation. In recent postal and industry meetings, the USPS already indicated that this will become a reality in the not-too-distant future. If you are delaying implementation of eDoc, or implemented it only for Full-Service mailings, you need to gear up and make the transition.

Read more:  http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

 

eInduction

In November 2013 the USPS® opened a new program to mailers called eInduction. eInduction is intended to replace the current hard copy PS Forms 8125 and 8017 clearance documents used for drop shipments of origin and destination mail. This is all part of a continuing effort by the USPS to convert hard copy postal documentation into eDoc. Since the program began, the USPS has equipped acceptance facilities with scanners, which scan the container barcodes to ascertain whether or not the containers have been properly verified and paid for at the origin post office. They continue their efforts to equip more and more facilities with these scanners.

How eInduction Works
With eInduction, the mailer tells the USPS that a pallet is “eInduction” by populating the “CSM eInduction Indicator” in the Mail.dat® pallet record with a “Y”. This can be done in the original PostalOne!® submission, the “ready to pay” submission or even in a “transportation update” after the postage is paid. When PostalOne! sees that a pallet is flagged for eInduction, the information about that pallet is pushed to the entry facility that is going to be inducting the mail, thereby making it available to the wireless “Surface Visibility” scanners at that facility. When a load arrives with eInduction pallets, the USPS personnel can scan the pallet and instantly know whether it is in the right place and that it has been paid for – no 8125 required at all. The date-and-time stamped scan – or “start-the-clock” event – is also provisioned back to the mailer as part of the Full-Service data they are entitled to receive (if the contents of the pallet are Full-Service qualified mail). This information is also available in the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) as part of the close-out information for that appointment.

It’s important to note that it is also possible to do eInduction if the entry facility is not equipped with Surface Visibility scanners. The induction process uses updated Intelligent Mail® Data Acquisition System (IMDAS) software. At these sites, the USPS acceptance employees use IMDAS scanners to scan the IM container barcode and collect the appointment data. No validations take place at the entry point at Non-SV locations.

What’s In It For Me?
There are a number of reasons you will want to participate in eInduction:

  1. To reduce the number of PS8125 and PS8017 forms you need to print and have “round stamped”.
  2. To reduce or eliminate the rejection of shipments by an entry facility for problems with 8125 forms or other reasons. This is a benefit even if you ship mail to a consolidator under a Drop Shipment Manifest System (DSMS) agreement.
  3. To streamline your mail induction process. Using this process speeds up processing of this mail, as it eliminates the need for postal clerks to manually reconcile containers against paper documentation, and it enables quicker appointment processing in FAST.
  4. To obtain more reliable and timely information about the induction of your pallets through MicroStrategy Reports. Mailers have tools to actively manage their accounts and understand what is happening to their mail at the container level.

If you are shipping under a DSMS agreement, you currently don’t have to create 8125 forms. You would still enjoy the other three advantages listed above if you helped your consolidator take advantage of the eInduction program.

Participation
To participate in this program, you must notify the USPS that you wish to participate in eInduction. To do this, call the FAST Help Desk at 1-877-569-6614 and provide your name, company name, address, phone number and eDoc Submitter CRID. The USPS will make sure that your DMU clerks are properly trained for eInduction and will also help you set up a login to access special MicroStrategy reports for eInduction users. Following the training of your DMU or BMEU clerk, your CRID will be activated for eInduction and you will be notified that you are authorized to participate. You should also contact your postal logistics carrier and find out what documentation they would like you to provide for your eInduction pallets. DAT-MAIL users can simply provide them with an 8125 that says “eInduction” on it instead of being round-stamped (see example below), or you can still provide them with a round-stamped 8125 if they require it. If you provide a regular 8125, it will be very important to enable the option to print “eInduction” on your eInduction pallet placards.

Additional information
For more detailed information on the eInduction program, download the Postal Service eInduction Guide for Mailers. There is also a guide to the Microstrategy Reports for eInduction. Mailers may also check with their District Business Mail Entry office to obtain more information or to ask questions.

Getting Help From the Window Book Experts
Window Book can help you participate in eInduction using our DAT-MAIL solution. Window Book also offers our Mailing Optimization Analysis. Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mail Optimization Analysis!

 

Are you working harder or smarter?

If you’re submitting electronic files to PostalOne!® for just the Full-Service mailings you process, chances are you’re working a lot harder than you really need to be. Oh, you say, “but sending files to PostalOne! is a lot more work than submitting hard copies.” On the surface, that may appear to be the case, especially if you do not do electronic submissions very often. The fact is, though, if you have two different process flows, one for Full-Service mailings and one for everything else, you ARE working harder than necessary. And, who wants to work harder than they need to? Any workflow is easier if all the jobs are processed in the same manner, and submitting jobs to PostalOne! is no exception..  Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Common Mail.dat® File Errors

If you submit Mail.dat® files to PostalOne!®, you already know how frustrating it can be when you get error messages, indicating that there is a problem with the data in your Mail.dat files. Identifying just what those errors are, and then pinpointing where in the Mail.dat file those errors are located, and knowing how to fix the errors can be complicated. This week, we share some of the more common errors we see when assisting clients.

Postage payment and By/For
Common errors that we see in many Mail.dat files are missing or incorrect postage payment and By/For information. The postage payment information is contained in the Mailer Postage Accounting (MPA) file of the Mail.dat file set. Read more:  http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

 

New Mail.dat Process Automation Tool: AWAM

Window Book Releases New Mail.dat Process Automation Tool:
Advanced Workflow Automation Manager (AWAM

Window Book, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of their latest breakthrough in Mail.dat® processing automation, Advanced Workflow Automation Manager (AWAM). This new software works with Window Book’s DAT-MAIL software to help mailers save time and improve productivity with high performance, automated  Mail.dat importing and processing.

AWAM is server-based for maximum speed and reliability and lets you process up to 20 Mail.dat files at once.  It supports an unlimited number of import hot folders, each linked to a different  workflow process for multiple  clients or job types.  Mailers also have the option to have AWAM look for new Mail.dat files in job subfolders on a network and automatically import them as soon as they are created.

Besides importing Mail.dat files, a large number of different operations with these files can be done automatically including applying mass updates, changing mailing and shipping dates, correcting bad container data, performing palletization and entry point optimization sets, exporting data to PostalOne!® or other applications, running reports, and much much more.

“From working with the mailing industry for almost 30 years, we know that not all jobs are handled the same way. You need different workflows for different job types such as. First-Class and Standard Mail. Now AWAM offers more flexibility when importing jobs, processing them and then saving them in multiple profiles so you can easily locate them again later,” said Jeffery Peoples, Window Book’s CEO.

“We have been told by many mailers that they spend way too much time locating and moving Mail.dat files around on workstations. AWAM is a new robust and flexible system that will help automate mailer’s daily tasks and save time getting the job done,” added Peoples.

Mailers who wish to see and learn more about AWAM are encouraged to call 800-524-0380 or email PostalSpecialist@windowbook.com to learn how they can benefit from using AWAM in their workflow process.

About Window Book
Window Book is currently celebrating its 27th year helping clients manage their operations more profitably.  We help you to:  Streamline mail processes to reduce operational costs!  Implement Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance to minimize the risk of downstream quality issues and be in a better position to defend your preparation processes. Grow with Emerging Technologies. Automate Your PostalOne! Submissions. Move to the Cloud to Optimize Your Operations. Use Your Data to keep up with competition.

Window Book Releases New PostalOne! Automation Solution: PostalWeb™

June 18, 2015, Cambridge, MA

Window Book, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of their latest breakthrough technology, PostalWeb, which improves the efficiency of mailing operations by automating the transfer of PostalOne!® documents and data back to the mailer.

Mailers can now use PostalWeb to automate retrieval of unpaid and finalized postage statements from PostalOne!. In addition, mailers can also automatically receive Barcoded Confirmation Pages, which can be scanned by USPS acceptance personnel, and important postage statement data in an XML format. This data can be used by both mailers and mail owners to automate entry of postage data into internal systems. In addition to automated document and data distribution, PostalWeb has an innovative eDoc dashboard which is mobile friendly and provides a unique view of e-doc submissions that has been designed for mailers.

PostalWeb, when used in conjunction with Window Book’s eDM10X software for automatically uploading Mail.dat® files into PostalOne!, provides an end-to-end fully automated PostalOne! solution.

“Window Book is all for increasing productivity by automating systems. Our first test site reports saving over 14 man-hours per week just by not having to go to PostalOne! to retrieve the finalized statements they need. According to their accounting department this adds up to over $700 in savings per week! That’s a savings of over $36,000 per year just using the first version of PostalWeb!,” said Jeffery Peoples, Window Book’s CEO.

“The really amazing thing about PostalWeb is that it automates the retrieval of our finalized postage statements from PostalOne! saving our CSR’s a ton of time” said Robert Dorre, Mailing & Logistics Support for World Marketing, Inc.

“We are continually looking for better ways for mailers to automate systems and create more freedom and effeciencies in the process. I am certain many mailers will realize tremendous time and labor savings from using PostalWeb and increase their profitability in the process” added Peoples.

Mailers who wish to see and learn more about PostalWeb are encouraged to call 800-524-0380 or email PostalSpecialist@windowbook.com to learn how they can benefit from using PostalWeb in their workflow process.

About Window Book:

Window Book is currently celebrating its 27th year helping clients manage their operations more profitably. We help you to:  Streamline mail processes to reduce operational costs and increase productivity!  Implement Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance to minimize the risk of downstream quality issues and be in a better position to defend your preparation processes. Grow with Emerging Technologies. Automate Your PostalOne! Submissions. Move to the Cloud to Optimize Your Operations. Use Your Data to keep up with competition.

Contact information:

Window Book, Inc.

300 Franklin Street

Cambridge, MA 02139-3781

Ph: 800-524-0380

Fax: 617-395-5900

PostalSpecialist@WindowBook.com

www.WindowBook.com

 

Preparing Pallets for Full-Service®

We frequently receive questions on this topic because mailers are often confused about when (or if), trays and sacks need to be placed onto pallets or other containers such as APC’s or Gaylords for Full-Service mail. Luckily, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) has recently updated a fact sheet intended to offer guidance to mailers on Full-Service palletization.

Is palletization required for Full-Service?

The short answer is NO. Mailings of loose sacks and trays may be submitted at Full-Service prices as long as all the requirements for Full-Service participation are met. However, if these loose handling units are placed on or into any type of container, that container does need to have pallet placards affixed to the outside of the container, and that placard must be printed with a unique Intelligent Mail® Container barcode. The updated fact sheet from the USPS provides more detail regarding when these loose handling units MUST be placed on or in a container and placarded. These requirements vary by class and processing category of mail.

First-Class Mail®

Pallet preparation and placarding is required for First-Class mail in these scenarios:

  • There is 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail or more
  • The mail within the container is prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
  • The mailer has an active Customer Supplier Agreement (CSA) in place
  • The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:

  • There is less than 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs of mail
  • The mail within the container is NOT prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
  • The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

 

Periodicals, Standard Mail® and Bound Printed Matter

Pallet preparation and placarding is required in these scenarios:

  • The mail is equal to or greater than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail
  • The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

OR

  • The pallet is prepared according to a labeling list destination and is:
    • Under 500 pounds of flats entered directly at a DDU
    • Between 100 and 249 pounds of bundles/sacks or 12 feet of trays entered at a destination NDC, ASF, ADC or SCF
    • Between 250 and 499 pounds of bundles/sacks or 36 feet of trays
    • Flagged in eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:

  • The mail is less than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs AND mail within the pallet is not prepared according to a labeling list destination
  • The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Resources

The updated fact sheet from the USPS is available on the RIBBS web site. Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with palletization, including barcoded placards, such as our DAT-MAIL™ software.

 

Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™ helps you increase your mailing and PostalOne! productivity. Automate workflow processes for production floor personnel, IT staff, Customer Service Representatives (CSR), distribution manager and accounting department. Systematize the downloading and distribution of critical postal data including; barcoded PostalOne! Confirmation Pages, Unpaid (UPD) and Finalized Postage Statements, financial data from these documents accurately into XML format for integrating into your enterprise reporting systems.

Improving Your Mailer Scorecard Results

Alright, alright, alright. So you’ve ramped up all your processes and systems for participation in Intelligent Mail Full-Service®, or at least for participation in eDoc. You’ve successfully submitted Mail.dat® files to PostalOne!® and have worked through the various validation errors or file rejections that you received when you first started this process.  So, you’re golden, right???  Well, not so fast….even if your files are successfully transmitted to PostalOne!, that does not necessarily mean there are not still errors in your files.  That’s right…errors can still exist, even if you don’t receive any error messages from PostalOne! How the heck are you supposed to find out what these errors are? That is where the Mailer Scorecard comes in.

Mailer Scorecard
Just like a report card back from your school days, the Mailer Scorecard tells you how you are doing as a mailer.  The Mailer Scorecard, available on the USPS® Business Customer Gateway, provides a wealth of information and reports on your electronically submitted mailings.  The Mailer Scorecard includes a Mailer Information tab, which includes all the data regarding your mail volumes, breaking it down by class of mail, processing category and so forth.  In addition, there are tabs for Full-Service validation, eInduction validation, and Seamless Acceptance validation.

On each of those tabs is detailed information on the items that PostalOne! is validating, including the validation results on your mailings.  The information on the Mailer Scorecard is tallied on a calendar month basis.  The data is even color coded to help you hone in on any problem areas.  For example, anything in green text means that your validation results have improved by 5% or more over the previous calendar month.  Text in red indicates that your validation results have declined by 5% or more over the previous calendar month.  And any items highlighted in yellow are areas where your mailings have exceeded the allowed error threshold.

For now, all of this data is informational only, intended to help mailers pinpoint areas where their mailings have quality issues so that mailers can take corrective action.  However, some time later this year, likely in July, the USPS plans to start implementing postage assessments for mail that exceeds the allowed error thresholds.  Bottom line, mailers need to be paying attention to their Mailer Scorecard results NOW so that any necessary process improvements may be made BEFORE those assessments kick in.

Common Mailer Scorecard Errors
One of the most common Mailer Scorecard errors for Full-Service validation is with the By/For information, which is the identification of the various entities involved in the mailing.  The “For” part of this equation is the Mail Owner, or the entity responsible for the content of the mailpiece and who ultimately benefits from the mailing.  The “By” part of the equation is the Mail Preparer (the entity physically preparing the mailing) and the eDoc Submitter (the entity submitting the Mail.dat files to PostalOne!).

All of these entities must be correctly identified in the Mail.dat files submitted to PostalOne! Typically, this identification is done using the Customer Registration ID (CRID) or Mailer Identification (MID).  There is a variety of fields in the Mail.dat file where this data may be populated, so it is very critical that mailers understand where these fields are located, how to get them correctly populated, and to make sure there are no conflicts with this data.  This, of course, assumes that you even have the correct CRID and MID data to begin with.  Luckily, the USPS offers search capability on the Business Customer Gateway, so that mailers may validate the CRID/MID information.  This search capability is provided for both individual searches and bulk searches, where files containing CRID or MID information for multiple clients may be submitted at one time for validation.

Correcting Mailer Scorecard Errors
Once you have analyzed the data available on your Mailer Scorecard, it is important to use this data to review your mailing process to determine where in your process these errors are occurring and make any necessary changes.  The Mailer Scorecard includes a “drill down” function that allows users to drill down to the specific mailing jobs with errors and then to the specific errors.  The Mailer Scorecard will provide error codes and a recommended solution. The error codes can also be looked up in the PostalOne! technical guides.

Some of the error messages, however, might be a little cryptic, so you may need to submit a ticket to the PostalOne! Help desk to ask for help in deciphering the error message and, more importantly, how to correct the error. Your presort and post-presort software vendors can also be helpful in this area.

Resources
The PostalOne! Help Desk is available to provide assistance to mailers who need help in understanding the Mailer Scorecard data and the various error messages.  They can also help you trouble-shoot errors in submitted Mail.dat files.  There is a guide available for making a request for more detailed Mailer Scorecard error data.

Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with improving their Mailer Scorecard results.  Our DAT-MAIL™ software provides easy access to make edits and corrections in Mail.dat files, particularly with regard to the often troublesome By/For data.  DAT-MAIL also includes a BCG Export and Import utility, both of which may be used to easily take advantage of the bulk search capability on the BCG for your clients MID, CRID, permit and Nonprofit Authorization data.  We also offer educational webinars on the Mailer Scorecard, and even offer FREE Mail Optimization Analyses to help you get your mailing operation optimized to submit mailings electronically.  We even provide on-site or remote consulting services to help you review your Mailer Scorecard results and help you pinpoint areas in your process where the corrections may be made.

Don’t miss out on our educational mailing webinars! Log on to our webinar registration site to sign up.

Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™, completes the PostalOne! automation circle by providing easy downloading of finalized PostalOne! postage statements directly to your servers, and includes options for email notifications and even emailing of these finalized postage statements! (Coming soon: automatically download your confirmation pages!)