Odds are, the average person’s understanding of ZIP codes and mail sorting boils down to something like this: the sender lists the recipient’s ZIP code on a mail piece’s delivery address, the Postal Service collects it, delivers it to that ZIP code, the end.
If only it were that simple.
The truth is, how the USPS® prices flats and letters based on presort method is a complicated process, full of inside technical know-how. But, knowing this process is key for mailers to rest assured that their mail pieces are being delivered as accurately, efficiently and cost effectively as possible.
Understanding that process starts with breaking down the different presort methods.
The three pillars of ZIP code presorting
Five-digit ZIP, automated area distribution center (AADC) and mixed AADC are the three primary presort methods that the Postal Service bases their postage pricing on.
Under the five-digit tray scheme, mailers have to present a minimum of 150 mail pieces being sent to the same five-digit ZIP code as part of one bundle to qualify for the lowest level of postage.
With AADC, you have mail that isn’t presorted as finely as the five-digit ZIP mail pieces; rather, it bundles together mail that’s addressed for delivery in areas that share a common postal distribution center. AADC mail was previously grouped together based on shared three-digit ZIP codes, until the USPS ended this practice in 2016 and merged three-digit and five-digit ZIP codes under one presort scheme.
Finally, there’s mixed AADC (MAADC), which covers a broader geography of destinations – namely, any mail pieces that didn’t fit into the five-digit or AADC trays. Unlike those options, this presort method doesn’t stipulate a minimum mail piece-per-tray requirement.
But, what does it all mean?
That’s the key question: five-digit, AADC, mixed – do the differences here really matter?
In a word, yes! Postage pricing and delivery times are determined by how mail is presented to the postal service. That presentation, in turn, is determined by presort methods. Properly presorting letters and flats is key to cost savings and efficient delivery times for outgoing mail.
But, keeping these terms and requirements straight can be incredibly confusing for the average mailer, which is why Pitney Bowes offers presort services to do it for you. Pitney Bowes take an automated approach to traying, sorting and scheming your flats and letters into the appropriate five-digit, AADC and MAADC bundles. We take all the complexity out of the equation, presenting your mail to USPS sequenced and sorted accordingly – and, because we’re capable of running billions of pieces of mail, we achieve a greater delivery density than the average mailer who has to sort their outgoing pieces by hand.
More than that, whenever the Postal Service issues changes in postage rates or compliance standards, our presort services can ensure that you’re still getting the best postage rates available – all while ensuring that your mail remains postal-compliant.
Pitney Bowes Presort Services can qualify your outgoing flats and letters down into the finest possible sorts, move them into the USPS network closest to their final destinations and yield postal discounts that empower mailers to save on postage costs, all while complying with the Postal Service’s mailing regulations.