USPS says intelligent mail program to be fully operational by 2009

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The U.S. Postal Service said its Intelligent Mail program-which provides end-to-end visibility and a seamless process for mail acceptance and delivery using standardized intelligent barcodes, continuous mail tracking, and mail quality feedback in real-time--will be fully operational for all commercial mailers by 2009.

Intelligent Mail products and services use machine readable codes, such as barcodes, to uniquely identify letters and flats mail, which enables large mailers to follow the progress of their mail through the many stages of processing all the way to delivery. This information can help businesses better manage their resources, reduce operating and marketing expenses, adapt to market conditions, increase efficiencies and be more responsive to customers.

"Intelligent mail is like having a GPS system for mail," said John E. Potter, Postmaster General and USPS CEO during the January Board of Governors meeting where the vision was presented.

In order to achieve its vision of end-to-end visibility, the USPS has embarked upon three strategies to uniquely identify mail, develop enabling infrastructure and enhance address quality:

· Confirm Service: This is the USPS's first Intelligent Mail service. It is currently being used by the mailing industry to meet their business needs. Financial institutions, credit card companies and retailers are using the Confirm Service to know when their customers receive fulfillment orders, increase customer response rates and know in advance who is returning payments.

· OneCode Vision: This is the concept of a single enhanced code combining tracking, mail sorting, address changes and postage payment, all in one format. Barcode sorters will read the data to deliver the mail piece and request services such as Certified Mail Service, Registered Mail Service and address correction services.

· Address quality: This includes a suite of services and tools designed to improve the quality of mailing lists and maximize efficient mail delivery.

The full suite of products that currently encompass Intelligent Mail are being pilot tested by three large businesses and results are promising. One large mailer improved its "scan rate" (automated reading) to 99 percent, ensuring 140,000 pieces a day were processed by postal equipment instead of manually .

With Intelligent Mail the entire mailing process is seamless, transparent and efficient. Advanced planning, increased communication through "e-dialogue," trouble-shooting, and better use of technology provides benefits to both the Postal Service and the business community.

"Intelligent Mail is the smart way for customers to do business," said Mr. Potter. "Our vision is becoming a reality, and we're looking forward to having everyone on board by 2009."

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