The Postal Service launched several enhancements for business mailers Jan. 22, along with new prices for most USPS Mailing and Shipping Services.

One of the highlights is “2nd Ounce Free” pricing for mailers who use First-Class Mail automation and presort letters. They now can mail letters up to 2 ounces at the 1-ounce postage rate. 2nd Ounce Free pricing adds value for transaction mail customers ― particularly those who mail bills, invoices and statements. It’s ideal for adding marketing information or reply materials — or to upgrade to higher quality, heavier paper stock to help grab a reader’s attention.

After a successful incentive promotion in 2011, 2nd Ounce Free is no longer a limited time offer, but a new price for automation and presort letters (it does not apply to single-piece letters).

Other Mailing Services changes include a 1-cent increase to 45 cents in the price of a First-Class Mail stamp and a 3-cent increase to 32 cents in the price of a postcard. The additional ounce rate for single-piece letters remains unchanged at 20 cents. For PO Box customers, a new, shorter 3-month pricing option is being offered.

Photo of top and side loading Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes.

Top and side loading Express Mail Flat Rate Boxes.

In Shipping Services, the Express Mail Flat Rate Box has made its debut. The box provides the same “If It Fits It Ships” convenience of the popular Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging. It comes in two versions, side loading and top loading, with the same cubic measurement (.342 cubic foot). For domestic shipping, the price is $39.95. For international, up to 20 pounds, the price is $59.95 to Canada and $74.95 for all other countries that accept Express Mail International. Find out more at Express Mail Flat Rate on usps.com.

Overall in Shipping Services, Priority Mail prices increased by an average of 3.1 percent and Express Mail prices by an average of 3.4 percent.

Downloadable price files for both Mailing and Shipping Services are available at the Postal Explorer website, pe.usps.com. General information also is available at usps.com/new-prices.htm.



NPF Logo

Featuring a keynote address by Postmaster General Pat Donahoe and sessions led by postal executives, as well as dozens of business sessions and workshops, the National Postal Forum (NPF) promises to connect mailers with information about every area of the mailing industry, including strategy, operations, marketing and technology.

The NPF, the mailing industry’s premier educational event and trade show, will be held April 1-4 in Orlando, FL, at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center. It will provide participants several opportunities to hear about the state of the Postal Service and the mailing industry, and USPS plans for the future — all directly from postal executives.

This year’s event will include executive briefing sessions during which members of the USPS leadership team will discuss a variety of issues of interest to business mailers. There also will be executive-led sessions on Intelligent Mail, global shipping, security, shipping and mailing, and technology innovations.

The NPF focuses on four areas: mail creators/sellers/owners, mail preparers, mailroom managers and mailing industry professionals. More than 120 workshops will be offered, from introductory to expert levels.

For the first time, the Mail Design Professional Course will be offered. The 8-hour course will be given over the forum’s four days. Once completed, participants may take an online exam to become a certified Mail Design Professional.

In addition, attendees can receive USPS certificates for their workshop participation. The level of these certificates — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — is based on meeting requirements to attend a certain number of workshops. Platinum honors will be awarded for attending any 17 sessions — with the certificate to be signed by PMG Donahoe.

The NPF includes the most extensive exhibits in the industry, and is the only one to feature the latest USPS technologies. The 2012 forum also will feature networking opportunities and include peer-to-peer roundtable discussions.

Attendees who register now can take advantage of the $50 Early Bird Discount Registration. The discount ends Friday, Jan. 27.

To register and for specific information on all the workshops and events, please visit http://npf.org/.


First-Class Tracer 5- and 10-label packages.
First-Class Tracer 5- and 10-label packages.

To make it easier for customers to track mail, the Postal Service is testing a First-Class Tracer at 50 retail locations in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

The Tracer uses scanning technology to let customers keep tabs on greeting cards, postcards and personal and business letters as they go through the mail stream.

To use the Tracer, customers apply an adhesive barcode to the mailpiece directly below the stamp. Each barcode has a unique number that can be tracked on usps.com. The barcode also has a unique Quick Response code that can be monitored on smartphones or other mobile devices.

The Tracer is being test-sold in two packages — a 5-label pack for $1.99, and a 10-label pack for $2.99.

“The First-Class Tracer is an easy and economical way for customers to trace their First-Class Mail and know when it’s out for delivery,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products.


Sun City, CA, Rural Carrier Sam Trento delivers mail outside the VPO at Valley Check Cashing Plus in Quail Valley, CA.
Sun City, CA, Rural Carrier Sam Trento delivers mail outside the VPO at Valley Check Cashing Plus in Quail Valley, CA.

McDonough’s Valley Hardware Company — located in New York’s Keene Valley ― is one of the latest small businesses USPS has designated as a Village Post Office (VPO). McDonough’s joins the Postal Service’s list of nine fully-functional VPOs.

Meanwhile, more than 700 miles away in Glenn, MI, residents hailed the opening of a new VPO located in the Gerstner Hardware store, the original site of the Post Office in the late 1950s. This VPO is the fourth in Greater Michigan ― the most in any postal district.

On the Pacific coast, the first VPO recently opened at Valley Check Cashing Plus, located in Quail Valley, CA. Incorporated into the City of Menifee in 2008, Quail Valley had been served by a small Post Office that closed earlier this year. USPS introduced the VPO to serve communities without retail offices and those affected by changes in the Postal Service retail network.

As of Jan. 23, USPS has received 603 VPO inquires from interested vendors. Thirteen new VPOs are poised to open this month, and 55 applicants are currently in negotiations or awaiting evaluations.

Unlike a Contract Postal Unit, a VPO does not have designated space within an existing enterprise. VPOs can be located in diverse businesses, libraries, town halls, and government centers.

VPOs offer a range of products and services most used by customers. Booklets of Forever stamps and Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes are a few of the items available for purchase.


Is your PCC planning to self-nominate for the 2012 PCC Day Awards? Do you have an exceptional leader who should be considered for PCC Industry Member of the Year? Be sure to check out the new Innovations Award this year, too.

Check out the PCC Recognition website for qualification and nomination guidelines for all award categories. Remember, there are only six months left to meet the requirements for the Gold, Silver or Bronze Premier Awards! INSIDE SCOOP

Inside Scoop graphic: Customers can use the EDDM Priority Mail option to cover more than one neighborhood..


  • National Postal Forum, April 1-4, 2012 Orlando, FL
  • National PCC Day, September 19, Atlanta, GA



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The Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) has been “wildly successful,” especially with the country’s top fast-food chains, says Paul Vogel, USPS president and chief marketing/sales officer.

EDDM offers simplified addressing, enabling mailers to use delivery route information, instead of names and exact addresses, to reach targeted groups in specific geographic areas. The number of EDDM mailpieces delivered since the program’s inception in March 2011 is approaching the 1 billion mark.

According to Vogel, USPS is currently working with several fast-food companies to test EDDM in various markets. These businesses have taken advantage of the benefits of EDDM — fast production turnaround, total neighborhood saturation and the ability to mail at a local Post Office — that make it easier and more convenient to reach customers and potential customers through direct mail.

Many “mom and pop” restaurants as well as other small businesses, such as dry cleaners and automotive parts shops, are using EDDM and mailing multiple times because they’re getting better response rates and greater customer traffic. EDDM also has been embraced by several national printing retailers. These companies are bundling EDDM with printing services and say that EDDM is helping to increase printing sales.

“From burgers to donuts to pizza, fast-food retailers are increasingly seeing the benefits of using EDDM to market their menus and other promotional materials in the neighborhoods where their stores are located,” said Vogel.
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