Firm Offers New Postal Mailing Service

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ELetter Inc., San Jose, CA, announced a new service Monday designed to allow small companies to automate mass mailings from their desktops and Internet browsers.


According to the company, ELetter's customers can manually print, fold, stuff, address and mail postcards or letters, eliminating the days or weeks it usually takes for this process.


ELetter's system is based on a combination of Internet technologies and digital printing and production systems. Here's how it works: ELetter customers use a Web browser to go onto ELetter's Web site (www.eletter.com) and uploads its list of names into the site. The company then uploads a document of their choice --either booklets, letters, or postcards -- and designates the print details of the job. ELetter servers upload all of this information and each piece of mail is printed out and delivered to a postal facility. Mailers can receive accurate prices for their mailings based on ink and paper usage in real time. A copy of the actual printed mailing is also sent to the mailer for review.


The system also checks and verifies the list from the latest postal database to make sure that the addresses are deliverable," and we'll kick back any address, or correct those that are undeliverable if they are fixable," said Joe Loll, director of marketing, ELetter.


The whole process-besides delivery-takes abotu 10 minutes, and an average cost for a full-color postcard is about 17 cents and an 8-page booklet is under 80 cents, before the USPS' postal discounts.


The system is aimed at squarely at small companies who may have trouble signing up printers and fulfillment houses for their jobs.


"If you are a small business and want to send 2,000 postcards because you want to do a little targeted direct mailing, [most printing and production houses] are going to turn you away," said Loll.


The system comes on the heels of a recent announcement by the USPS saying that it will withdraw its current Mailing Online experimental servcie, which allows smaller mailers to create a document on a personal computer, access a USPS Web site, select printing, finishing and payment options and provide a mailing list of at least 5,000 names for standardization, and then send an electronic version of the document to a dedicated USPS Web site for patching, printing and traditional paper mailing. While no formal plans have been announced by the USPS, the agency said it is planning to hold back on this service so it can consolidate its Internet presence with one Web site, USPS.com.


However, Lee Garvey, program manager for USPS' Mailing Online said that if "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than [the USPS] should be pretty flattered by ELetter, since it's Web site follows [the original] Mailing Online's almost exactly in terms of concept and workflow."


"ELetter has applied an entirely new level of automation to digital production hat will have a significant impact on the entire industry above an beyond implementing cost-effective mailing for small to medium-sized business," said Steve McClure, an analyst at International Data Corp.


ELetter also announced that three portals targeted at the small business market -- infoUSA.com, ThinkDirectMarketing.com and iMALL-- will soon offer the ELetter solution o their sites. ThinkDirectMarketing.com and infoUSA.com, for example, will integrate ELetter as a part of a list rental service for marketing efforts.
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