Mailing Industry Task Force Offers Recommendations

DENVER — The Mailing Industry Task Force yesterday issued its initial recommendations for action for the industry at the National Postal Forum.

The report outlines actions to increase the effectiveness of mail by unifying the industry to focus on products and service enhancements that make the mail more competitive and responsive to evolving customer needs.

Formed last spring by Pitney Bowes chairman/CEO Michael J. Critelli and deputy postmaster general John Nolan, the task force was designed to assess the current role and value of hard-copy mail in business and consumer communications, evaluate the competitive environment affecting the industry's future and identify opportunities for growth.

The task force sees the opportunity to enhance mail service in three areas: responding to customer needs; making mail more competitive compared with other communications channels; and unifying the mailing industry.

For example, the report suggests initiatives to develop standards and systems to help make every letter-mail piece unique, identifiable and trackable, just as packages are trackable. The USPS could add new value to mail by leveraging barcode technology to enable mailers and recipients to track individual mail pieces, developing performance measurement tools for large volumes of mail and giving mailers tools to achieve delivery predictability.

A vital concern to the industry is greater efficiency to keep the mail more competitive. Preparation standardization and network optimization initiatives were offered, including standardizing mail preparation, entry and containerization requirements. Noting that pricing is also a competitive issue, the report offered industry recommendations for a streamlining of the rate-making process, contract pricing options and predictable rate increases.

Another concern of the industry is the development of more flexible and efficient payment systems. The report recommends one-source access and tracking of all postal financial payments and flexible payment options with Web-based verification and acceptance. The report also addresses the need for enhanced consumer services, suggesting significant increase in points of access for both sending and receiving mail, including access at work.

Led by top executives from 11 industry-leading companies, the task force represents all parts of the mailing industry from creative, printing, distribution, and technology and equipment suppliers.

“While mail continues to be very important to and desired by users, the members of the task force have collectively identified a number of ways to make mail an even more powerful communications tool than it is today,” Critelli said. “The mail has always been the backbone of business and consumer communications. Increasing and simplifying user access to an expanded set of powerful, cost-effective products and services will give customers the added flexibility and value they are seeking.”

Nolan said, “The mailing industry is a $900 billion market employing 9 million people representing nearly 8 percent of the domestic gross national product. We want to leverage its economic power to help grow the nation's business and make this critical sector of the economy even more vital.”

“While some things can be done today, the industry also needs to unite behind postal reform legislation to achieve this,” Critelli said.

The task force also agreed to continue to meet to address other issues and assess additional possible recommendations, and report on those findings at the spring National Postal Forum in San Diego.

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