RGC Takes Over NetPost From Postal Service

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A private provider, RGC Communications, has taken over management of the NetPost Mailing Online service formerly offered by the U.S. Postal Service, RGC announced last week.

RGC, Roselle, IL, will own and operate NetPost under license to the USPS. Launched in September 2000, NetPost was an experimental service that let small and midsized businesses send documents and mailing lists to the USPS, which then sent them to printers near their delivery point to maximize cost savings.

The postal service announced the termination of the experiment earlier this month after three years. RGC, which partnered with the USPS in 2000 to provide printing and mailing services as part of the original NetPost program, will take over the operation full-time in partnership with the postal service.

The transition will be transparent to NetPost users, who still will be able to access the NetPost Web site at MailingOnline.com, RGC said. Enhanced document design and printing and improved site navigation are planned by January 2004. RGC has partnered with L2 Solutions Inc., Palo Alto, CA; and Poste Digital, Arlington, VA, to develop the improvements.

The perception among some in the mailing industry was that NetPost was a money loser for the USPS and thus was canceled. But Rick Chlebos, director of business development for RGC, said that, as a private entity, RGC will have fewer constraints than the postal service and will be better able to aggressively cut costs.

He noted that the presidential postal reform commission has recommended that the USPS privatize its non-core services. The privatization of NetPost is an example of that strategy, Chlebos said.

Also, when the USPS issued a letter this month saying it would end the NetPost experiment, it possibly gave some the impression that NetPost was folding for good. That worried RGC at first, but the perception has not proven difficult to combat, Chlebos said.

"If you go to MailingOnline.com, you can tell it's not going away," he said. "We're confident our message is getting out there."

Wrich Printz, president/CEO of L2 Solutions, said his company would provide technical solutions to the NetPost service, particularly in the area of variable data. Variable data technology lets mailers set up a template for a mail piece and vary sections of the template based on the individual recipient, allowing for more sophisticated personalization.

At first, NetPost users will want to stick with more basic types of personalization, Printz said. However, he predicted that they eventually would want to do more with their mail and use more advanced printing technologies.

RGC wants to expand the personalization capabilities for NetPost users beyond mail merge, which is all that is now available, Chlebos said.

"We want to be able to provide users with the power of variable documents without making it too difficult for them to do that," he said.


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