USPS Adds Gift Card to Greeting Card

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The U.S. Postal Service debuted NetPost CardStore/Gift Card yesterday, an online product that lets consumers and businesses create a customized, combination gift card/greeting card.


NetPost CardStore/Gift Card combines the elements of a personalized greeting card with a retail gift card that is delivered by a letter carrier, the USPS said.


"With this service, our customers will be able to sit down in front of a computer in the comfort of their own home and design their family's personalized holiday greeting cards complete with a family photo," said John Nolan, deputy postmaster general. "With the added convenience of being able to add gift cards from national retailers, holiday cards and shopping are done with a simple click of the mouse."


Businesses also can use the greeting card/gift certificate to reward their best customers, he said.


The USPS has offered NetPost CardStore -- without the gift card -- since 2000, when it began its partnership with Touchpoint Inc., Emeryville, CA, a provider of direct marketing technology and services. NetPost CardStore provides:


* A selection of thousands of custom images and suggested greetings.


* The ability for consumers to use their personal photos, artwork and graphics.


* The ability to write personalized greetings for individual or volume mailings.


* The ability to use existing address files.


* Custom-printed cards entered into the mail stream the next business day.


* The ability to schedule cards to be sent up to a year in advance.


* The ability to send cards to a recipient or have them mailed to the sender who can personalize and mail them out.


The NetPost/CardStore service is accessible via the postal service's Web site at http://www.usps.com/netpost.


Retailers offering gift cards in the program include Bed, Bath & Beyond; Brinker International, which owns Chili's, Macaroni Grille, Maggianos, The Corner Bakery, Rockfish and other restaurants; Circuit City Stores; Lowe's Companies Inc.; and Safeway, which owns Vons, Dominick's, Randalls, Genuardis and other grocery stores.


Other companies have signed on and will offer the gift cards soon, Nolan said. They include Starbucks, Barnes & Noble and The Sports Authority.


The NetPost CardStore/Gift Card costs $4.99, not including postage, taxes and any shipping and handling fees. The USPS also will provide "offline solutions for businesses that want to offer customized cards," said Jeff Meritt, marketing specialist at the USPS. For example, companies can create cards with their company name and full-color logo. The USPS will offer volume discounts on the cards, but not on postage.


The cards can be delivered via First-Class, Priority or Express mail. Gift card amounts range from $10 to $200.


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