It has become more and more clear -- and this Graph Expo brought it to the forefront -- that mailing services are a natural extension of printing services. After all, as much as 60% of all printed matter ends up in the mail sometime in its product lifecycle. Some experts estimate that as high as 40% goes directly into the mail system.
Every year, the NAPL tells us that surveys of printers say that miling is the #1 value-dadded service that commercial and digital printers want to add. Mailing and fulfillment, while not identical, are closely related and are proven to "wed" customers to their print service providers and result in more profitable relationships.
This year has brought a new challenge with major changes in postage rates and mail preparation requirements, as well as new technologies such as the Intelligent Mail® barcode. Direct marketers are searching for solutions that will reduce the cost and improve the efficiency of direct mail.
Following is a sampling of the offerings displayed in the Mailing and Fulfillment Pavilion at Graph Expo 07.
Anchor Software, a provider of a wide range of postal processing and data quality solutions, showcased MaxPrint, a document design and composition application. Variable data printing and personalized documents have become "mainstream" as far as print service providers are concerned. One to one marketing is no longer next year's marketing tool and MaxPrint offers a design, composition, and proofing application that can output IPDS, AFP, PostScript, MetaCode, PCL5, or PDF. (www.anchorcomputersoftware.com)
BCC Software, a BÖWE BELL + HOWELL Company, also offers the full range of data quality solutions and postal presorting applications, but this year BCC presented the Mail Verifier Plus. The deliverability of mail is a very critical issue for both the US Postal Service and for mailers, and the Mail Verifier Plus is a desktop solution that confirms that barcodes applied to direct mail pieces meet the USPS Merlin® acceptance requirements. A note of interest: BÖWE BELL + HOWELL created the Merlin evaluation system used by the USPS. The Mail Verifier Plus is a commercial version of the solution designed for, and used by, the USPS. (www.bccsoftware.com)
Satori Software, also a provider of postal presort and data quality solutions, has taken a new direction as well. This year Satori previewed the Bulk Mailer® Business System, to be released in the fourth quarter. The Bulk Mailer Business System combines mail preparation, client management, resource scheduling and support for the USPS PostalOne!® system for electronic submission of mailing details. Clearly, the business of mailing requires information and support systems like the business information systems required for printing. (www.satorisoftware.com)
Melissa Data, another company offering data quality and postal preparation products, has an additional selection of applications including Mailers+4 with Canadian Addresser, which processes Canadian addresses at the same time US addresses are processed. Also available is Mailers+4 with RBDI (Residential/Business Delivery Indicator) that verifies address delivery type, whether business or residential. Shippers use this tool to select a parcel carrier based on cost-efficient delivery. (www.melissadata.com)
Printers not only need to select software to manage databases, ensure data quality, and append postal code and barcode information; print service providers also need to find the appropriate hardware to apply those addresses and barcodes. Domino Printing Sciences has launched a new thermal ink jet solution – the L-Series – to apply addresses and barcodes with a resolution of 600x300 dpi at 375 feet per minute. The L-Series will print the new 4-state Intelligent Mail Barcode. (www.dominoamjet.com)
While getting the right software solutions and the right hardware is critical, it is also important to keep current on mailing programs and requirements. The best way to learn more and to keep on top of the many changes occurring in the USPS is to subscribe to a publication totally focused on mailers and mailing issues. Mailing Systems Technology (www.mailingsystemstechnology.com) and MAIL: The Journal of Communication Distribution (www.mail-magazine.com) are "required reading for all mailers.