*Neopost's Simply Postage Gets USPS Approval

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Neopost Inc., Hayward, CA, recently announced that it has received approval from the U.S. Postal Service to begin selling Simply Postage, a PC-integrated postage solution.


According to Neopost president Neil Mahlstedt, Simply Postage will target the small-office, home-office market. It allows users 24-hour access to Neopost's Postage-On-Call system for downloading and storing up to $500 worth of postage. Its self-contained metering and thermal printing device connects to a PC's standard serial port printer to print postage for all classes of mail, including First Class, Express Mail, Priority and Parcel.


Neopost expects to launch its other metering products -- PC Stamp and PostagePlus -- later this year. The products are part of the USPS' Information-Based Indicia Program, which began in 1996 and allows small and home offices to print their postage directly onto envelopes or mailing labels from personal computers using laser or ink-jet printers. Software for both products verifies addresses, manages mailing lists, prints logos and keeps records of business mail for charging clients.


PC Stamp, which was approved last September by the U.S. Postal Service for beta testing in San Francisco and Washington, DC, downloads and stores postage in a small, secure, wallet-sized device. PostagePlus downloads and prints postage directly from the Internet on an as needed basis. Neopost is waiting for approval of the products from the USPS' Office of Metering Technology Management, which verifies a product's security and operation integrity.


Simply Postage does not fall under the USPS' IBIP performance criteria for open systems since it requires the use of a self-contained device in order to print postage.


In related news, Stamps.com Inc., Santa Monica, CA, and Avery Dennison Office Products North America, Brea, CA, a self-adhesive label company, last week announced an exclusive marketing and distribution agreement.


Under the agreement, users can download free Stamps.com Internet Postage Software when they click on an icon that is featured on the Software section of Avery's Web site (www.avery.com). Stamps.com will be exclusively bundled with Avery LabelPro 3.0 for Windows software, and Stamps.com Internet Postage software will exclusively support Avery laser and ink-jet label formatting templates, including a new selection of Avery labels designed for Internet Postage. Stamps.com will enable users to print First-Class, Priority and Express Mail postage directly onto Avery-brand labels, or envelopes and business documents, using ordinary laser or ink-jet printers.


A spokesperson for Avery Denison said the agreement with Stamps.com allows the company to increase its presence in the $40 billion postage market.


Stamps.com president/CEO John M. Payne added that with the Postage Server technology, "Avery customers receive the special benefit of an Internet Postage solution that does not require additional hardware, just the free Stamps.com software."


Stamps.com, which is also part of the IBIP program, is currently approved by the USPS for beta and market testing in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and expects approval from the USPS for a national rollout during the first half of this year. The Stamps.com/Avery offer is expected to be available by the second half of this year.


Currently, Stamps.com provides the only USPS-approved Internet Postage solution that does not require installation of a hardware device on each PC to achieve the acceptable level of security.
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