Live From The ACMA Forum: Prospects for Lower Rates

Washington—Postal rates for catalogers are probably not ever going to decrease, as Stephen M. Kearney, vice president of pricing and classification for the U.S. Postal Service, told attendees at Thursday’s National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum. But a special prospecting rate for catalogers is a possibility.

In his session at the conference, sponsored by the American Catalog Mailers Association, Kearney pointed out that the USPS understands that catalogers are facing a crisis and that it needs to learn even more about customers. He also said that the Postal Service and catalogers must balance competing objectives.

When one of the Forum attendees asked about the likelihood of the USPS coming up with a prospecting rate for catalogers, Kearney replied: “I think that’s a good idea. We need to sit down and sign a contract and then take it to the [Postal Regulatory Commission].

But the Postal Service is going to have to test and find out what the reality is with a prospecting rate, Kearney noted. “We want to do agreements that will stimulate growth and make the business case.”

Prospecting, according to Neil Sexton, president of industrial supplies mailer Northern Safety Co. and chairman of the American Catalog Mailers Association, is “probably the single biggest thing.” Attendees agreed that a reduced prospecting rate would stimulate catalog mailings and, in turn, increase volume for the USPS.

But implementing such a program would be no easy feat. Chris Bradley, president of bedding merchant Cuddledown, said for a prospecting rate for catalogers to work, it must be broad based and tested for one year.

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