End of the Year Shipping Guidelines, Postal Office Holiday Hours

Post offices will remain open on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  While hours of each office will vary, this won’t have an impact on mail delivery.

Customers are encouraged to check their local post office for holiday business hours.  As a reminder, December 23rd is the last day customers can send packages via Priority Mail Express.

Customers sending international mail may find the USPS’ international shipping guide helpful.  International mail-by dates were provided earlier this week.  Please see the photo at the bottom of this post for more information on international holiday shipping.

Monday, December 15th is expected to be the busiest mailing day of the year.

“More than 640 million cards, letters and packages [are] expected to be processed,” a press release issued today stated.  “Last year 607 million pieces of mail were delivered during the holiday season, reflecting an increase due to growth in advertising and mail package volume.”

As a reminder, customers can skip holiday postal office lines and use “Click-N-Ship.”  This service allows for package online payments, label printing, and USPS pick up.

More information about holiday shipping and global mailing can be found on the USPS website.

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2014 USPS Fiscal Year Recap: Services Increase, Revenue Decreases

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Shipping and Package Services Revenue increased 9.1 percent in 2014 while First-Class and Standard Mail volume decreased by 2.2 billion and 495 million pieces, respectively.

While Shipping and Package Services Revenue increased 9.1 percent this year, the USPS indicated that “legislative burdens and constraints” contributed to an overall 5.5 billion dollar loss in 2014.

In a press release issued today, the USPS reported a $569 million increase in operating revenue from Shipping and Package Services.  Additionally, the organization indicated that increased pricing introduced last January contributed positive revenue.

As a reminder, overall debt loss was $5 billion in 2013.  In 2014, the USPS was affected by many of the same legislative fees that contributed to its 2013 losses.  (Please note: Fiscal year 2014 was October 1st, 2013 to September 20th, 2014.)

“Excluding a one-time adjustment to revenue of $1.3 billion in 2013 resulting from a change in accounting estimate for Forever stamps, 2014 operating revenue would have increased by $1.9 billion,” today’s press release stated.

The required Health Benefit Fund contribution of $5.7 billion was another fee that significantly contributed to 2014 losses.  The USPS also added that $1.2 billion was spent in “non-cash worker’s compensation expense, consisting of $485 million released to changes in interest rates and $697 million of other non-cash worker’s compensation expenses.”

On Monday, the USPS announced a cyber-security breach that compromised postal data; they do not believe fiscal data was compromised or altered in this breach.

Information released today also compared several changes from 2013 to 2014:

  • Total mail volume was 155.4 billion pieces compared to 158.2 billion pieces a year ago, a decrease of 2.8 billion pieces or 1.8 percent.
  • First-Class Mail and Standard Mail volume decreased by 2.2 billion and 495 million pieces, respectively.
  • Operating expenses were $73.2 billion in 2014 compared to $72.1 billion in 2013

An adjustment to required delivery frequency, the authority to expand products and services, integration of the Health Benefit Program to Medicare, and reforming the workers compensation program are several legislative requirements the USPS stated are key to increasing and maintaining positive revenue.

More information is available on the USPS website.  More information on the data breach can be seen here.

USPS Guidelines for Publishing Journal Supplements

The Mineralogical Record publishes several supplements a year focused on specific mineral collections.  Click on the photo above to learn more about publishing supplements.

The Mineralogical Record publishes several supplements a year focused on specific mineral collections. Click on the photo above to learn more about publishing supplements.

While there are a multitude of reasons journals decide to publish supplemental material, the USPS suggests taking note of the following mailing guidelines:

  • At least 25% of editorial content must be germane to the publication.
  • “Supplement to…” does not have to be printed on the cover if mailed together in a package (with a regular journal issue).
  • The length and height of a supplement must not exceed those of the host publication except when the host publication and the supplement are contained in an envelope, polybag, or other wrap.
  • Pages are included in the advertising percentage calculation for postage.
  • If the combined weight of the journal and supplement is over 1.25 lbs., automation discounts will be lost.
  • A supplement may take the place of a regular issue if it is numbered rather than labeled as “supplement.”

Last week, Allen Press Publisher Peter Burns discussed the details of printing journal supplements in his Best Practices and Innovative Solutions webinar.  This webinar included why publications are publishing supplemental content, the pitfalls of doing so, and different types of guidelines to consider. The above USPS guidelines listed above were also discussed in further detail.

More information on supplements is also available on the USPS website.

Global Mail Delivery Delays Update: October 14, 2014

Here are the current areas of the world that may be experiencing mail delays.World Map_standing image

Source: International Delivery Solutions

South Africa –  is currently experiencing an industrial strike at the Johannesburg International Mail Center (JIMC) office of exchange and some post offices in the Gauteng province. The strike has been ongoing since Sept 17th, with no end in sight. Consequently, there are delays for all inbound and outbound mail in the Gauteng province. Mail delays are also affected in Cape Town, Langa, Gugulethu, Eerste River, Makhaya and Khayelitsha post offices. Unfortunately, the strike has been accompanied by serious intimidation, preventing the implementation of any contingency measures.  The South African Post Office apologizes for any inconvenience and asks for the understanding of designated operators and customers as it makes every effort to resolve the situation in their best interests.  Post offices in Cape Town and the province continue to close intermittently.

Israel – A postal strike in Israel also continues.

Peru – Since Sept 16th postal workers in Peru started an indefinite strike this has affected both inbound and outbound mail.

Puerto Rico / British Virgin Islands / Lesser Antilles / U.S. Virgin Islands - Presently, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is affecting weather on these islands, expect mail delays.

India – Since Oct 12th, in the coastal regions of the states of Andhra Pradesh and Odish in the aftermath of Cyclone Hudhud are hard to reach.

Japan – Oct 8 thru 13th, Super Typhoon Vonfong hit Japan’s Kyushu and Shikoku islands and Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa Island.

Germany – Oct 8th, a strike of pilots of Lufthansa distrupted the airline’s cargo operations only, expect some mail delays.

Italy - Since Oct 2nd, Postal workers at the Piacenza mail hub in Italy have taken unballoted industrial action. As a result there may be some delays to the delivery and collection of mail. The zip codes affected are as follows: 12, 15, 14, 13, 26, 42, 10, 29, 43, 16, 18, 17, 27.

China: October 1st-7th National Day Golden Week holiday – businesses and the governments offices shut down.  Expect mail delays.

USA - Sep 29th, the Chicago USPS Int’l Service Center was not affected by the O’Hare shutdown traffic problems, according to the US Postal Service.

France – Sep 29th, strong storms flooded parts of southern France.

Hong Kong - Since Sept 28th pro-democracy demonstrations in several of the city’s primary business districts may have affected some mail delivery.

USPS Mail Drives Mobile Promotion

The USPS is currently offering a discount for customer who utilize mobile technology.  Photo from the USPS website.

The USPS is currently offering a discount for customers who utilize mobile technology in mailing pieces. Photo from the USPS website.

Starting November 1st, the USPS is introducing a program aimed at business utilizing mobile technology in their mailings during the holiday season.

The Mail Drives Mobile Commerce promotion “encourages mailers to integrate mobile technology with direct mail to create a convenient method for consumers to do their shopping.” This promotion is just one of several initiated this year to encourage customers to take advantage of technology in their mailers.

According to information released on the USPS website, a two percent discount is available to customers who:

  • Send a Standard Mail letter or flat mail piece or Nonprofit Standard Mail letter or flat mail piece.
  • Include a mobile barcode or print/mobile technology in their Standard Mail piece that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and leads the recipient to a mobile-optimized shopping website.

Other details state that:

  • The recipient must be able to purchase an advertised product from the website.
  • The mail piece must contain text near the barcode or image that provides guidance to the consumer to scan the barcode or image and conveys information about the landing pages.

To receive the discount, mail pieces must be sent between November 3rd and January 15th.  Registration for this program began September 15th and runs through December 31st, 2014.

Publications or journals could utilize this promotion to:

  • Mail subscription reminder postcards that guide customers to renew their subscriptions on their website.
  • Send an annual meeting postcard reminder. A society could remind their members to register for an upcoming annual meeting by guiding them to their website and encouraging them to register/pay online.
  • Publications selling other products on their websites (like individual past issues of journals) can also utilize this promotion.

Further details – including a list of ineligible mobile barcode uses – are available on the USPS website.

Postmaster General Discusses USPS Technology, Data Enhancements

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The USPS is currently pilot testing geo-fencing to improve carrier efficiency during street delivery.  Click the photo above to learn more.

Geo-fencing – which often utilizes location for marketing services to consumers – is just one of the many enhancements Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe believes will help advance the USPS.  To best utilize geo-fencing, the organization must work to create a digital address for every customer in America.

“These investments provide better delivery accuracy and visibility, and enable enhanced product and delivery offerings – such as package redirect and Priority Mail features that include free insurance, tracking and date-specified delivery,” Donahoe said in his State of the Business address on Tuesday.

Information released in August indicates that the USPS is currently piloting testing geo-fencing technology with letter carriers to assist in accuracy during street delivery.

Currently, many marketers use geo-fencing to send messages, alerts, or coupons to consumers when they enter a defined geographic area.   On Tuesday, Donahoe added the USPS’ also plans to utilize geo-fencing in its integrated marketing campaigns.

The USPS continues to offer and encourage customers to take advantage of QR codes and other digital promotions.  We covered these promotions in MailBlogx posts available here and here.

To view the State of the Business address, visit the USPS’ website.

USPS to Close Approximately 82 Facilities Beginning January 2015

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The USPS plans to close 82 facilities starting in 2015. This is phase two of their consolidation plan. 141 facilities were closed between 2012 and 2013.

A letter to customers on the USPS website indicates that more changes are coming to the USPS in January.  Considered a continued rationalization of the network, the USPS plans to close approximately 82 facilities next year.  141 processing facilities were closed between 2012 and 2013.

“We believe strongly that this phase of network rationalization will establish the low-cost, technology-centric delivery platform necessary to serve the mailing and shipping industry for decades to come,” the letter states.

The letter also states that post offices closed between 2012 and 2013 were reported to save the organization $865 million annually and “required no employee layoffs.”  The additional closures starting in January are expected to save an additional $750 million annually and $3.5 billion in the next five years.

For customers concerned if this consolidation will affect their routes or shipping, a list of expected closures is available on the USPS website.  In a FAQ available online, the USPS adds that “the consolidation will not impact the delivery process.”

15,000 USPS employees will be impacted by the consolidation.  A six month notice will be provided to customers impacted by the closures.  The FAQ also indicated how specific closures were chosen.

“Criteria include expected savings, service, transportation and logistics networks, and capacity within the processing plant, amount of required capacity (mail volumes), using the least amount of equipment and maximizing capacity,” the website states.

This phase of consolidation is expected to be completed by the fall mailing season.  More information is available on the USPS website.