Why Merchants Should Move to Intelligent Mail Barcode Full Service

J. Jeffery Peoples, CEO of postal software provider Window Book, wants all merchants to adopt the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) Full Service plan because he says it’s necessary to receive the best postage rates.

Currently, merchants have the option to use POSTNET, IMB Basic or Full-Service to qualify for automation discounts. Starting in January 2013, the U.S. Postal Service plans to stop offering postage discounts for POSTNET and merchants will need to use IMB to qualify for automation discounts. In January 2014, only Full-Service IMB will qualify for automation discounts, Peoples says.

Peoples, who will speak on this topic during a session at the National Postal Forum April 1-4 in Orlando, says merchants can save $3/1000 mail pieces for First-Class Mail using IMB Full Service and $1/1000 mail pieces for periodicals and Standard Mail.

Between 2000 and 2011, the USPS saw its mail volume drop nearly 20%. Financially, the USPS posted a net loss of $8.5 billion in 2010 and $5.1 billion in 2011.

“This decline in mail volume and revenue has had a dramatic impact on the USPS financially, forcing them to make cost cutting moves and other changes to the way they conduct business,” People says.

Under the Sarbanes Oxley Act – designed to improve the accuracy of financial reports by identifying, assessing and reporting on internal controls affecting an organization’s financial reporting – the USPS is required by the Postal Regulatory Commission and Congress to maintain better data about the mail they get from the mailers, Peoples says. The only way to efficiently and effectively meet SOX requirements – and still allow flexibility for changes in mailings – is through electronic documentation and transactions.

Now, eDoc and IMB Full-Service will be a requirement in the near future, Peoples says.
The IMB, formerly known as the 4-State Customer Barcode, is the next generation of USPS barcode technology used to sort and track letters and flats. IMB technology, among other things, combines the capabilities of the POSTNET barcode and the PLANET Code barcode into one unique barcode.

Mailers can select from two options: basic and full service. The basic option requires the essential elements of an IMB — service code, mailer ID and the delivery point code. Full service has all the elements of basic, plus a unique identity on each mail piece.

Full service combines this individual mail identity with aggregate information for primary mail containers such as trays, tubs and sacks. The data from the primary containers is attributed to secondary containers such as pallets.

By using the full service option, merchants qualify for no-fee Address Changer Service (ACS).

Why is IMB Full Service better than mailing without it? “Better price, better tracking, and better for staying competitive in future,” says Peoples.

What sort of financial investment does a company have to make for IMB Full Service? “It can be as low as a few thousand dollars,” he says. “Large companies invest intelligently hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Peoples says about 750 companies currently use IMB Full Service.