First class mail is typically delivered in the U.S. within 1-4 days. If you are shipping at least 200 pieces and the mailing is not extremely time-sensitive, you can ship standard class (often referred to as “bulk mail”) instead. Bulk mail rates will be 38% – 55% less than first class if your company is a for-profit entity, and 55% to 80% less if your company is non-profit. These savings are obviously worth pursuing if your mail can take a bit longer to arrive.
In order to get the maximum bulk postage discounts, you need to do the following:
Deliver the mail to the mail facility closest to where the mail needs to be delivered. The USPS reduces what it charges to deliver a piece of mail commensurate with the work you save them. There are substantial savings if you sort your mailing into trays of at least 150 mail pieces going to the same 3-digit or 5-digit zip code and deliver the trays to one of the 29 Network Distribution Centers (NDCs) or 196 Sectional Center Facilities (SCFs) closest to the mail’s ultimate destination. You have two main options to get the mail to these centers:
- Drop Shipping: If your mailing is over 100,000 pieces, you will likely end up identifying dozens of NDC and SCF locations where you can save money by drop shipping the trays of mail to the mail facility closest to the mail’s destination. Be aware that all mail being drop shipped needs to be sorted, sleeved, tagged, and strapped according to stringent postal service regulations and appropriate paperwork submitted to ensure its acceptance at the final destination point.
- Commingling: Another alternative is to work with a commingling company that will arrange to pick up your unsorted mail, mix it with mail from other sources and ship it to the mail facility closest to its destination. Using a major commingler like MailSmart Logistics provides a multitude of advantages for a mail house because the company handles all of the sorting, sleeving, tagging, strapping, paperwork and shipping to the NDCs and SCFs. And because MailSmart Logistics commingles so much mail, their customers benefit from their substantial volume discounts.
Comply with the Postal Service’s requirements for automated mail. USPS requires that each piece of mail meet the following requirements to qualify for the reduced rates associated with automated mail:
- Be CASS Certified: CASS stands for “Coding Accuracy Support System”. CASS certification standardizes address data by fixing street and city misspellings, confirming the carrier route, checking five- and nine-digit zip codes, and creating an accurate delivery point barcode. This can be done for you by your postal logistics company or you can do this yourself by purchasing CASS-certified software for your mail shop. You must run your data file through the certification software within 180 days of the date of the mailing.
- Check against the National Change of Address (NCOA) database: With one in every six American families moving each year, making sure the addresses in your mailing list are correct is an ongoing challenge. The USPS requires that your mailing list be compared with the Postal Service’s database of known address changes within 95 days of the date of the mailing.
- Barcoding, Sorting & Tagging: Mailings must be 100% delivery point or Intelligent Mail barcoded, and sorted and marked according to USPS standards. All pieces must be automation compatible.