Managing Change-Of-Address Data
Each year customers submit approximately 46 million COA requests to the Postal Service. With a strategic alliance partner, Imagitas, the Postal Service introduced several improvements to make the process more convenient and efficient. Internet and telephone COA options, introduced in 2001 and 2004, are promoted over hardcopy forms because they are more convenient for movers and they allow instantaneous validation of the address information. New promotions during 2008, such as an Internet Change of Address Information Kit and a program engaging realtors, helped to increase electronic COAs 20 percent, to more than 7.9 million, or 17 percent of total COA requests. The Postal Service’s goal is to increase that to 12 million by 2010. The Postal Service has encouraged mailers to use electronic COA procedures that validate address data they receive from their customers.
The Postal Service works closely with mailers to optimize mail preparation and improve efficiency and service. To increase the density of flats in a mailing, the Postal Service is testing new standards allowing both Periodicals and Standard Mail flats within bundles and on pallets. To increase density for parcels, a new option was added to allow mailers to combine Parcel Select, Package Services, and Standard Mail parcels in sacks and pallets. Combined mailings help mailers achieve finer presort and drop-ship volumes to maximize postage and transportation savings.
New standards were added to require mailers to place presort bundles on pallets with all addresses facing up to improve bundle distribution and reduce manual handling. Two new pressure-sensitive bundle labels allow mailers to identify 3- and 5-digit ZIP Code bundles with an optional endorsement line or a pre-printed, barcoded label. Optional standards encourage mailers to place Periodicals flats loose in flats trays when bundling would not produce a finer sort.
New standards developed with the mailing industry now standardize address placement on flat mail. Starting March 2009, mailers will position delivery addresses toward the top of most presorted and automation flats, a change that facilitates automated sortation in delivery point sequence.The Postal Service began the development of preparation standards for flats in a Flats Sequencing System (FSS) environment, working with the mailing industry to align entry, preparation, and induction with FSS capabilities. The Postal Service goal is achieving lowest combined costs — both postal processing and mailer costs.
In recognition of the fact that FSS could result in the addition of new entry points for some drop shippers, where space allows the Postal Service will co-locate FSS with bundle sorting and other flat sorting equipment. This will allow most flat mail for a geographic area to be drop-shipped at one facility. While this will not always be feasible, some facilities will no longer serve as drop points for destination entry flats, as processing at these facilities will be absorbed by larger FSS sites.
Together, the Postal Service and the mailing industry are exploring ways to ensure that letter-size booklets and folded self-mailers process properly on automation equipment, allowing mailers to continue to take advantage of letter-based prices. These pieces have frequently jammed high-speed sortation equipment or become significantly damaged in the process. Tests are now being conducted, using mailer-supplied and manufactured mailpieces, to create revised standards for this mail. The new standards will more accurately prescribes the size, thickness, paper stock, and tabbing required for successful mailing.
Price Change Preparation and Implementation
Implementation of the May change in prices was successfully executed, despite the fact this was the first conducted under new rules and procedures established by the Postal Act of 2006. Online services on usps.com and on partner sites such as eBay were updated with the prices and enhancements. Dedicated areas within usps.com gave easy access to information that previous changes had indicated would draw the most customer traffic. All postal software was updated with the new prices and was ready for business well in advance of the change.
Readiness of Applications, Systems, and Web Sites
More than 50 applications and systems, including Postal Explorer, PostalOne!, rate calculators, Click-N-Ship, the Automated Postal Center (APC) kiosk, and POS One Post Office retail terminals required updating with the new prices and other changes. To help customers, the usps.com/prices Web site provided a comprehensive overview of the price and product changes. The usps.com main page featured the new prices prominently and provided quick and easy access to key mailing and shipping guidelines. Downloadable price files, mailing standards, and links to Federal Register notices and PRC documents were also posted.
Communications AND Publications
To support the communications rollout, the Postal Service produced a field information kit in the Postal Bulletin, including details of the changes, talking points, and other material to prepare postal employees for the changes and ensure that they had ready access to any information needed to respond to customers.