Address Services, Package Service Options and Pricing On Task Force Agenda

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WASHINGTON -- Improving address quality services, new package service options and cyclical pricing are just three of the activities of the Mailing Industry Task Force, according to panelists who spoke at yesterday's 2004 National Postal Forum.


The 4-year-old task force is a public/private partnership between the U.S. Postal Service and mailing industry corporations. It restructured its working groups last year to better support its goals of bolstering mail industry growth and effectiveness.


Charles Bravo, senior vice president of intelligent mail and address quality at the USPS, said his subcommittee -- intelligent mail and address quality -- is working on an initiative to extend the value of intelligent mail codes by using them to trigger USPS address quality services. The initiative would let mailers obtain both tracking and address quality services from a single barcode.


"This will also enhance the real estate on the envelope with fewer lines of addressing required for coding," Bravo said.


The subcommittee plans to have a completed proof of concept by December.


Another initiative involves developing a certification process from mailing lists. Though the USPS previously developed this type of program, mailing industry adoption was limited. The subcommittee plans to review the existing program and identify enhancements by June.


Nicholas Barranca, vice president of product development at the USPS, said his subcommittee -- new products/services/gateway -- is developing a packing service option that would let retailers send merchandise with local next-day delivery, and let consumers send or return merchandise in the same fashion. A pilot is expected next month.


Another initiative is called Direct Mail-Business Environment, which seeks to identify and understand initiatives that could hurt the DM industry in the United States.


Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies, offered some initiatives that her subcommittee -- pricing and payment -- is working on. They include:


* Second-ounce flexibility, whereby mailers could obtain greater flexibility in designing mail pieces and inserting solicitations in their First-Class mailings to make paper billing a more attractive alternative to electronic bill presentment.


* Cyclical pricing, whereby the USPS could tailor rates to factors like the time of year, month or day of week by which mailers send prospecting mail. Essentially, it introduces premiums and discounts to increase mail volumes and level mail fluctuations.


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