Shipping & Mailing

Five signs it’s time to change your franking process

Experts share how mailers and shippers can tell it’s time to upgrade their postage meters.

With each passing year, business technology seems to evolve even quicker. And mailing technology is no different.

Just a few decades ago, a business could purchase a mailing product, set it up, and then walk away from it, according to Tom Ryan, Director of Product Marketing, SMB Global Mailing & Solutions at Pitney Bowes. Businesses viewed postage meters similar to how they might now view a telephone – the product would complete one specific mailing task and then fade into the background of the day-to-day operations.

Now though, digital postage meters have the ability to fulfil an integrated, complete range of mailing tasks, from folding and inserting to tracking and accounting. And these functions are now enhanced with real-time capabilities through Internet connectivity.

What about your business? Is your digital postage meter capable of these functions, or is it just too slow, too limited or too disconnected?

Here are five common limitations of older mailing technology, and how you can upgrade:

1. It Doesn't Process Mail Fast Enough

In today's world, where overnight mailing and next-day shipping are so common, businesses that process mail or parcels need to move at the same accelerated pace. There's no time to manually seal packages or fold letters.

You need a tool that automates certain parts of the mailing process. Ideally, mailing technology comes equipped with features that enhance speed, like a semi-automatic feeder that allows the user to stack the mail on the feeder and go do other things while it zips through the stack on its own. Folders and inserters help too.

Remember, too, that speed isn't just a product of the technology itself. It's also how your digital postage meter connects to the Internet. What if a rate update or the postage itself can't be downloaded because of a problem with an old, dial-up connection, or because the phone line is in use elsewhere? With a high-speed digital connection, businesses no longer have to worry about slow speeds, dropped connections or missed updates.

2. It Has Trouble Handling Volatile Volumes

Another element of mailing technology speed has to do with mail volumes – and not just whether or not they've decreased. Mail volume was once very predictable, Ryan says. You could count on a certain run of mail being processed and sent at the same time and same day every week. That's hardly the case today.

Ryan explains that businesses today face "trigger events" – unexpected occurrences, even crises – that require them to immediately respond and communicate quickly with clients. Some days are just more hectic than others, and in these instances, when you have to drop everything and act, it's crucial that your technology can support these efforts and a quick reaction.

On those heavy-volume mailing days, when all you have at your disposal is a tiny machine that doesn't have a moistener and can't handle thicker envelopes, you're going to wish you had technology that could process your mail more quickly, and at an affordable cost.

3. It Requires Too Many Separate Steps

Think about all the steps that go into sending mail or packages on a large scale – creating, folding, inserting, sealing, adding postage, end-to-end tracking and accounting. If your mailing technology is unable to integrate all these steps, that means additional complexity for your employees.

And if a mistake is made at any step of a disconnected mailing process, and a mailing is unable to go out as planned, the repercussions are even worse for businesses today. As Ryan points out, "The less mail you send, the more critical the remaining mail is." Perhaps you've migrated some of your company's customer messages to email, leaving the most critical, revenue-generating items – invoices, for example – for traditional mail. An undelivered invoice is an unpaid invoice, and that's a problem for your company's bottom line.

There's also a security risk that comes with more people handling the mail. Especially in industries like law and healthcare, where security is so critical, more steps in the mailing process means more chances that a sensitive document could be revealed. That’s why, as Peter Binder, Global Product Marketing and Channel Enablement Manager for Pitney Bowes, says, "You want to limit the number of hands touching a mail piece."

4. It Doesn't Support Data and Smarter Sending

The days of one-mailing-fits-all – in which all customers receive the same, generic message– have long since passed. The most effective mailings today are personalised.

Businesses that do personalised mailing the right way have integrated data into their mailing processes – about what they send, how much they spend and even how they track individual mailings, according to Ryan. And with the right mailing technology, all that data can be interconnected across every step of the mailing process, allowing businesses to use it for predictive purposes.

5. It Produces Dull, Forgettable Mail Pieces

Picture a pile of one day's post on the kitchen table of one of your customers. In your mind, does your company's mailing stand out as a piece that your customer will open, or is it likely to get lost at the bottom of the stack?

To avoid having your mailings get thrown away before they're opened, you need to stand out. This is where a splash of colour or graphics can really make a difference.

It may seem small, but even adding something as small as a customised, colour message (perhaps a "Seasons Greetings"), photo or logo to your mail can catch the eye of your recipient and lead them to open your envelope, says Peter Binder, Global Product Marketing and Channel Enablement Manager for Pitney Bowes.

If your current metering process doesn’t seem to be meeting your mailing needs anymore, there's a new solution or an upgrade out there for you. To learn more, please see our full line of postage meters and digital mailing systems.

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Andrew Patricio is the founder and CEO of BizLaunch, a company that trains, advises and mentors entrepreneurs. Andrew has written two books on small business, started seven businesses, and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide get their businesses up and running.

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