Today I wanted to make sure I followed up with everyone on intelligent mail barcodes. My commentary is meant to be introductory on the subject matter rather than exhaustive. Why bother? If you do any amount of mailing you and your mail service providers need to know about these impending changes.
Keeping it brief and to the point, beginning January 2013 you will no longer be eligible to receive automation discounts on mailings using the old Postnet barcode. Any mailing without the new IMB will be charged non automation rates. No IMB, no discounts, plain and expensive, I mean simple. Although this has been brought up for implementation in the past and then deferred it is quite clear the post office has no intention of allowing that to happen again.
What is it? A new, really not so new, more efficient and effective code used to sort letters and flats. It was first implemented in 2006 and has slowly become more widespread with increased functionality. It is now slated for full implementation nationwide in January of 2013.
There are two service types: Basic and Full-Service. Both offer discounts and address-quality updates, however the Full-Service IMBs are most noteworthy. Full Service IMBs offer larger discounts, individual tracking of mail pieces and address quality updates at no charge. They are more complex to implement and require e-documentation plus uniqueness. Beginning on Jan. 28, 2013 IMB Basic or Full-Service IMB will be required for mailers to obtain automation discounts. The second phase occurs in January 2014, when IMB Basic will no longer be eligible for automation discounts.
What to do? Contact your local post office, us, or some other trusted mail service provider to make sure you are up to speed and compliant before January 28th. After that date all non IMB mail will pay the higher, non automation rates.
The benefits to you? Huge! Full Service IMBs offer larger discounts, individual tracking of mail pieces and address quality updates at no charge. This allows you to track the progress and delivery of individual mail pieces so you can know with certainty what has been delivered giving you the best information to make next step marketing decisions. By adding the codes to postal reply envelopes, you can also know when payments have been dropped in the mail and how much those payments are for.
The website listed here will provide you with much more information, https://ribbs.usps.gov/. As we continue to learn more about the implications of this newly mandated program we will keep you posted.