Shipping & Mailing
Is it time to audit your technology?
A regular assessment of the technology tools you use can take your mail center to new heights
There is always a common theme amongst mail centre professionals. When asked why they run their mail centres they way they do, they would reply, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Considering the ever-changing technologies out there, it makes sense to review your operations. A technology audit can help you see where your mail centre stands in terms of efficiency and accuracy — and give you a sense of whether investing in an update can save money or boost revenues.
Gaining Precision and Efficiency
Delayed or lost packages and mail can slow down an organisation. Basic mail centre technology allows businesses to track packages from start to finish, notifying recipients by email or text of deliveries and automating the processing of lost or damaged items.
If your organisation needs to track more than just packages, consider an integrated solution that allows you to track just about anything marked with a barcode. Modern sorting systems that reliably and accurately read product barcodes and labels can help your company avoid incorrect deliveries and extra manual-handling costs.
Technology upgrades also can help reduce inefficiencies and make running a mail centre more convenient, particularly useful if you have multiple locations and multiple mail centres to get in sync. Freeing employees from the minutia of stuffing envelopes or monitoring operations at other sites can allow them to focus on other work.
Managing Outbound Shipments
No one likes — or, in this day and age, expects — to hear that a package or key document is “in the mail.” Today’s state-of-the-art technologies can report to both the sender and the recipient with the time a shipment was sent, approximate delivery date, tracking number and more. In fact, the recipient often knows a package has arrived before the mail centre has even had a chance to process it, which means that mail centres have to be tech-savvy in the digital age. Automation is key.
- Is your technology integrated with order processing, purchasing, accounting and other business applications?
- Does it automatically print carrier-compliant labels, manifests and other shipping materials?
Today’s technology can shop your negotiated discount rates with carriers to find the right one for every package you send, consolidate and rate orders to minimise transportation costs, and more.
Making Mail More Intelligent
Keep in mind that, Australia Post offers barcoding, which is optional for some of their services, but it's a requirement for PreSort Letters, Charity Mail and Acquisition Mail. To get a Barcode on your shipment, you need to buy Address Matching Approval System (AMAS) certified software to generate a unique 8-digit number, known as the Delivery Point Identifier (DPID) for each address. The DPID is then turned into a barcode.
It is possible to get your barcode ready with the help of mail houses. Mail houses specialise in preparing and sorting your mail, and can help manage a single part of your mail, such as barcoding - or your entire mailing from creation to lodgement. If you need a mail house, you can find one in Australia Post’s list of Bulk Mail Partners.
Optimising Direct Mail
If you send direct mail to consumers, a technology upgrade can not only dramatically reduce costs but also improve marketing effectiveness and ultimately increase sales.
Postage is often the largest portion of a company’s communication budget. If you send out a significant volume of mail, you may want technology that assists in presorting it to comply with Australia Post provisions. Smaller-scale direct mailers may benefit from software that sorts addresses and creates the reporting required by Australia Post, while larger-volume mailers may want to buy a “sorter” that physically sorts the mail in ZIP code order and produces barcodes to maximise postal discounts.
Here again, automation matters. Inserting, weighing, measurement, certification, tracking, data verification, reporting — when automated, these processes can reduce labour costs, postage costs and materials expenses. Ultimately, you’ll get the right message to the right customer faster than before.
Designing for Profit
A renewed focus on branding and the need to deliver brand messaging in colour is another reason to update your technology. You should be able to bring colour to every campaign, from creating document to designing envelope, inserts and digital files. Some of the latest innovations allow for personalisation that can match or exceed the standards set by online marketing. For example, variable data printing is enabled by software that can change text, images and layouts for individual items, based on your own database information.
Furthermore, the cost of high-speed production inkjet technology has declined dramatically in recent years, bringing full-colour printing to a price that is often close to basic black. Other technologies fold packets in unique ways, add loyalty cards to the mix and can make direct mail campaigns even more inviting overall.
As your mailing operation grows, investing in automation becomes more attractive. Ultimately, however, you may want to consider outsourcing part or all of your mail operations to a fulfillment house that has the technology you lack. A periodic review of your mail centre software and equipment can help you get the best bang for the buck you spend on mailing and shipping.
Learn more about automation tools that can help your mail centre operate more efficiently, the five critical events when technology can make all the difference, and six ways to ensure your packages are not delayed.
© Pitney Bowes 2015. All rights reserved.
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