The U.S. Postal Service recently made two announcements that have an effect on catalog retailers.
You may be familiar with the first one: The USPS announced that it will extend the exigent postage surcharge. It is taking this step as a result of the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) determination that the contribution of an additional $1.191 billion is justified, meaning the surcharge may remain in effect through March or April 2016.
The other news item from the USPS has to do with labeling list data — the data printed on sack labels, pallet labels, and tray labels to help route the mailpieces inside to the correct destination. The labeling data is based on the 3-digit ZIP code prefix, and the labels themselves are generated using computer software that accesses the labeling list data in a file format.
What’s changing: More frequent updates are going to happen, as they move from quarterly to monthly. As the USPS consolidates processing facilities to improve efficiency and reduce costs, the labeling data needs to be updated more frequently to reflect those changes — especially considering that some ZIP codes will also change. Plus, about 12% of the U.S. population moves each year and there are 1,800 new delivery addresses added every day.
All of this constant change means that it’s important to have the most up-to-date information to ensure mail pieces reach their destinations in a timely manner. With that in mind, labeling list data will now only be valid for two months before needing an update.
How does this affect catalog retailers? Instead of being able to perform postal presorts months in advance, you’ll only be able to do so 60 days in advance — at the most. You’ll also need to stay on top of your mailing lists and work carefully with your software vendors and mail service provider to ensure that labeling list data changes are updated on schedule so that the correct information goes into the Mail.dat files.