Enhancements to Confirm Program by USPS to Help Large Mailers
Thursday, October 04, 2001
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Large business mailers can now track where their mailings are within the postal mailstream in near real time with the October 1st launch of the enhanced Confirm program. “Confirm gives mailers a window into our operations and brings them one step closer to being able to know where their mail is at any time,” said Nicholas Barranca, vice president, Product Development. “It also provides our operations managers with the same information to isolate problems and improve service.” Confirm provides tracking information to mailers on both their outgoing mailings and incoming replies using PLANET Code technology, which identifies the mailer and stores information about the mailpiece using a unique barcode. The encoded data is captured when the mailpiece passes through postal mail sorting equipment. This data is then transmitted to the customer’s computer system or to the Confirm Web site. The enhancements to Confirm include increased capacity and processing capability, providing near real-time data access and increased scan rates; a “start-the-clock” function so mailers can verify when the mailing actually enters the postal system; expanded PLANET Code functionality; a user-friendly Web site; and dedicated customer support. During the pilot program, Confirm was tested by over 600 mailers, including direct mail advertisers, financial institutions, lettershops, retailers, periodical publishers, remittance processors and other large commercial mailers. How Confirm works: Mailers identify and track their mail by placing an additional barcode, called the PLANET (Postal Alpha Numeric Encoding Technique) Code, on the front of their letter or flat mailpieces. As the mailpieces are processed on USPS barcode sorting equipment, data is collected containing information on the PLANET Code, the POSTNET code, the processing facility, the operation number and the processing date and time. Mailers can download the information to their own computer systems or they can access it from the Confirm Web site, www.planetcodes.com. Confirm provides two services: Destination Confirm for outgoing mail and Origin Confirm for incoming mail. Destination Confirm tracks outgoing mailpieces such as solicitations, credit cards and statements, so mailers know when the mail is about to be delivered. This advance notice lets mailers synchronize marketing activities with the mail’s arrival and track important documents. Origin Confirm tracks incoming reply mail such as payments, orders and other responses. With advance notification of reply pieces, mailers can process payments and manage cash more efficiently, make fulfillment operations more efficient and evaluate the success of campaigns in near real time. New mailer participation requirements: Under the new Confirm system, customers must provide a Confirm Advance Shipping Notice data file, which includes important information about the PLANET Code mailing. Each Planet Code mailing statement must be accompanied by a Shipment ID Barcode to record the induction date and time of mailing. Current users must convert to the new system before the end of the year. “The new Confirm production system offers mailers of First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail letters and flats more robust information, improved scan rates, increased processing capacity and a redesigned Web site,” said Charles Bravo, chief technology officer and senior vice president. Mailers can sign up for Confirm by calling the Confirm Customer Support line at 1-800-238-3150 to request an application. There is a $750 fee until December 31, 2001, and from then on it will be $1,000 fee to certify a mailer’s ability to print the Shipment ID Barcode and PLANET barcodes. The Postal Service will file a rate case for Confirm with the Postal Rate Commission later this year.