Alliances Form on Customized Postage

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Pitney Bowes Inc. said yesterday that it will launch a customized postage service through a new alliance with Zazzle, a customized products marketplace on the Web. Meanwhile, Stamps.com announced a deal with Zazzle's main rival, CafePress.com, to sell customized postage stamps.


The new service lets customers create full-color customized stamps using images they upload at the Zazzle Web site (www.zazzle.com) or images already available on the site, including famous characters from The Walt Disney Co. The alliance calls for Pitney Bowes, Stamford, CT, to provide the software that manages the postage transaction between the customer and the U.S. Postal Service.


Consumers can go to Zazzle's site, upload their own images or choose from Zazzle's collection. Postage can be customized using Zazzle's design tools.


Visitors to Zazzle's site can design sheets of 20 stamps in the most common denominations from 23 cents (postcards) and 37 cents (First-Class letters) to $3.85. Zazzle reviews all uploaded images for adherence to USPS guidelines. Once approved, the stamps are printed and shipped to the customer within 24 hours.


Early next month, Stamps.com's customized postage stamp product PhotoStamps will become a customization option for CafePress.com's shopkeepers and members. Each shopkeeper will be able to provide unique PhotoStamps designs to customers via their individual shops.


Shopkeepers will be able to customize the images on the PhotoStamps to reflect the overall theme of their individual shop. Customers then may order PhotoStamps from Stamps.com through the regular CafePress order process.


CafePress has built a community of 2 million people worldwide who have expressed their creativity on more than 70 items ranging from T-shirts to bumper stickers to mugs to postcards. Nearly 10 million unique products are available through the CafePress Marketplace.


PhotoStamps can be used as regular postage to send letters, postcards or packages, and are available for the most common mail rates in denominations ranging from 23 cents to $3.85. Each sheet includes 20 individual PhotoStamps.


The new product line is made possible thanks to recently released guidelines from the USPS for a one-year market test that began May 17.


Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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