In many organizations it is easier to send a $15 overnight package than a $.57 letter. This does not make any intuitive sense, but it is based on where we work and what access we have to technology. UPS® and FedEx® provide free enterprise tools that can be accessed from any web connected computer. This means that people working in small offices or remotely have an easy way to send a letter or shipment and the charges can be consolidated on a daily/weekly/monthly report that is billed back to the corporate office to the proper cost center. With mail, it is based on the technology that is deployed at the locations. Large offices will have some metering solution, but others will typically have nothing. This forces them to either drive to the Post Office to buy stamps or go to their enterprise UPS® or FedEx® solution that makes it easy, but at a significantly higher cost.
There is new online technology that can be deployed across an enterprise that can allow users to mail through the USPS® from any web connected computer that we view as the future of business mail. This technology has huge savings in equipment costs, postage, labor, and efficiency, and best of all, can provide central visibility to the spend across the enterprise.
Although Enterprise Online Postage has been around for almost 10 years, the big difference is the way that the licenses are procured. The traditional model was to pay a subscription price for each license, forcing administrators to need to justify the spend based on a location’s postage usage. This made it difficult to support small offices or remote staff due to their low or inconsistent mail volumes. The newest systems can have one license that is shared across an entire enterprise and at a fraction of the cost. There is no longer a need to justify a user’s mail spend because everyone can now have access.
What is Enterprise Online Postage?
Online Postage is being able to print postage for letters, flats and parcels through any internet connected computer. What differentiates enterprise from single location online postage is how you can control the spend across your locations, users, and cost centers from a central administration point. This enterprise control lets you define business rules and manage access across all locations to potentially thousands of users.
These are the main benefits of Enterprise Online Postage platforms:
- Universal access to all locations and employees
- Postage discounts that range from 5-68%. Many of the discounts are not offered with traditional postage meters.
- 50-90% savings over other metering technologies – Typical mail systems cost between $18-$200 per month for small office solutions. Enterprise versions can be a fraction of this investment when spread-out over-all locations.
- Certified Mail Automation – Many of these platforms will provide an automated way to process Certified Mail. Instead of managing the “Green Cards” being returned with the signatures, the process can be managed online. This can provide a listing of all documents sent, what has been received and even Firm Mailing Book manifests that can be used additional proof of mailing in court.
- Visibility and Chargeback – In most organizations, the mail throughout the locations has little to no visibility. Offices are either managing their own mail spends, or if there is metering technology, it is only showing how much money got downloaded into the device to fund future mail pieces. Enterprise Online Postage provides visibility to every piece of mail generated with cost centers and users assigned to each piece. Postage can be charged back as needed providing better user controls. There is also less chance for theft because a name is associated to each piece.
- Single Sign-On User Management – When you have hundreds or thousands of users, password management can become difficult. Also, who is deleting users who are no longer employed? These systems can deploy Single Sign-On which links to an organization’s active directory. Users do not need usernames and passwords because they have already connected to their corporate infrastructure. Also, when users are no longer employed, their access automatically gets revoked.
- Expansion to UPS® and FedEx® – These platforms can have UPS® and FedEx® processing from the same postage platform. This can drive significant savings from the following:
- Compare Air to Ground – Ground is guaranteed next day delivery in Zone 2, and 2-day in Zone 3. The “Free” carrier provided systems only show you the air rates unless you go into a different screen which shows the Ground service. New systems can show you all the rates in one screen, with expected delivery times making it easier to compare.
- UPS vs. FedEx vs. USPS – These systems can compare the rates of all services in one place. Lightweight items going to residences or less dense zip codes may be less expensive through the Postal Service, regardless of your discount, because they do not charge for fuel, residential or rural delivery surcharges.
- Single Sign-On – The “Free” carrier tools do not allow for the level of user management described above.
Central Administration is the Key to Success
For these platforms to be effective, they require a central administrator to manage the deployment and ongoing usage. We have been managing these platforms for years and what we find is that without the proper expertise and oversight, the systems fail. You need to have someone responsible for the following:
- Defining requirements
- System implementation
- Onboarding users and returning postage meters
- Managing user access
- Case and issue management (Most important)
- Postage chargeback
- Monitoring usage
- Reporting on key metrics
- Quantifying savings
- Expanding and promoting usage
2024 Mandatory USPS® Meter Migration will Drive Adoption
The USPS® announced the largest technology change requiring all postage meters to be constantly connected to the internet (Vs. only connected at the point of meter refill or rate updates) so their usage can be monitored for improved postal security. This becomes effective in June 2024 and will require an estimated 70% of the postage meters in the United States to be changed. Many of these devices are designed for lower mail volumes and companies will be forced to reassess their future mailing needs.
When we look at the mailing spends processed by these meter devices across an enterprise, we typically find the usage levels are low and do not justify more expensive meter technology. Enterprise Online Postage platforms can easily manage the mail volumes, increase the number of users who have access, provide better discounts, increase mail visibility, and reduce the costs dramatically.
The Future Looks Brighter
We have implemented and managed thousands of users and locations on these platforms and the feedback we get from our clients is this is such a better solution to manage their postage needs. The ability to provide mailing access to all their users, reduces their dependency on more expensive overnight services, provides incredible visibility and reduces their costs. While companies will still need metering technology for their larger locations, these Enterprise Online systems still complement this by supporting their remote users or their USPS® parcel and Certified needs with the discounts not available through their meters. The way we work has dramatically changed over the past few years and expecting people to be next to a machine to process mail does not fit this new reality. The future of mail is having access to mail and shipping services where people are, from any web connected computer, with the right data available at their fingertips to make the best mailing and shipping choices.