The three phases of data evolution
The mailing process has changed dramatically over the years. Decreasing your postal costs used to be focused exclusively on minimizing the total postage. Postage continues to be an important (and growing) part of postal costs, but a new factor continues to grow in importance when assessing the overall value and cost of mail. That is DATA.
Data has always been an important part of the mailing process, but the type of data and what it is used for has evolved through several phases.
Phase One: The focus on data was initially on the front-end pre-mailing preparation related to address hygiene and automation. Leveraging CASS and NCOAlink to ensure good clean address data. Some used two different encoding engines to maximize the number of current, correct, and complete addresses. Carrier Route information and full 11-digit ZIP codes were the primary goal so they could be fed into the Presort to qualify for the lowest postage prices and minimize the amount of undeliverable or returned mail. This continues to be an important factor in decreasing postal costs.
Phase Two: Ensuring quality of data extended from address data on the front end to quality of mailing data (eDocs) submitted to the Postal Service on the backend. The Idealliance Mail.dat and Mail.XML specifications serve as the primary communication vehicle for mailing data. This data is used in Mailer Scorecards which now requires constant monitoring to ensure quality thresholds are met and maintained. Bad data now shows up in Full Service or Seamless errors which can result in costly penalties.
Everyone in the mailing industry has been brought to this point in the evolution of mailing data. Either by choice, leveraging the data to make process improvements, optimize the mail production process, and decrease overall postal costs. Or under duress, and changing solely to avoid the additional penalties of bad data.
Phase Three: This phase is about leveraging all the data coming back from your mailings as the mailings flow through the Postal Service. This is done by using the Informed Visibility (IV) and Informed Delivery (ID) platforms. Unlike the first two phases, this phase is optional. Well, optional from the standpoint that it is not required to be used via USPS rules and regulations. However, this is the data that will drive the next wave of new opportunities. One way of looking at decreasing your postal costs is to increase the overall value of mail and create a larger gap between the postal costs and the return on that investment. IV and ID are continuing to be built and will be generating additional data and information from your mailings. This is where mail (with the attention it gets and the data it generates) will compete and win against pure digital marketing efforts.
Dealing with all this data can quickly become overwhelming. Tools and technology will be critical in this phase to continue the quest of decreasing your postal costs. Simply collecting and storing the data achieves nothing. Success will be driven by leveraging tools and technology that transform the raw data in actional information.
The Postal Service is using the data to create dashboards that help them monitor the flow of mail across the entire United States. The Postal Service has built National Operations Command Centers (NOCC) for each postal area. It can monitor the status of all air and surface transportation, combine it with facility conditions and weather data that can be used to quickly identify containers at risk and make operational adjustments to minimize any impact.
The success of phase three will be based on creating a “NOCC” for your commercial mailing and shipping business. What are the key metrics and dashboards that need to be created and monitored to ensure your business is driving the maximum value out of your mail?
How Can Assurety Help Streamline Processes and Decrease Your Commercial Mailing Costs
Assurety Consulting and Solutions has helped the USPS, International Posts, and large and mid-sized commercial mailers and logistics companies integrate emerging postal technologies, improve their workflows, cut costs, and improve the customer experience in all facets of their Postal logistics strategy. Assurety can help you, including small size mailers, assess your data, identify opportunities and workflow improvements that can help you save costs in the long run while improving the management of mailer operations.
Assurety’s AIMS plus™ Beyond Post-Presort parcel and post mailing software solutions for commercial mailers, parcel and post organizations enable extensive automation of workflows and identifies process improvements that remove manual steps and move towards automation. Costs decrease as processes improve, and these savings are compounded when processes result in compliance with the wide array of USPS incentives for mailers. The solution provides complete support for list houses, Comminglers, Copalletizers, logistics companies, and post offices. Solution supports easy to use interfaces for PostalOne! Informed Delivery Digital Marketing Campaigns, Seamless Scorecard troubleshooting, FAST appointment management and an Analytics platform for strategy optimization and decision support. With years of experience in the postal logistics and consulting realm, Assurety can identify the incentives and improvements that best fit your business processes to create lasting savings, better customer service, and more efficient daily operations.
International postal services can leverage AIMS plus™ technology to analyze volume and associated postal data to optimize collection, induction, operations/sortation, transportation, and delivery planning and tracking of the products. Assurety’s expertise can be leveraged to integrate AIMS plus™ with POS systems, facilitate processing planning, and improve tracking capabilities. Our expert consulting and integration services will improve your capabilities for eCommerce readiness and improve Service Delivery.