Postage $aver Low-Cost Software for Postal Bulk Mail
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Getting Started with Postal Bulk Mail

Bulk Mail 101
Help Topics:


Getting Bulk Rate Discounts
Barcoding and CASS Certification
Move Update (NCOA) Requirement
Is it a Letter or a
Flat?

Bulk Mail Postage Prices
Presorted First Class Prices

Bulk mail is a way to save money on postage by doing things that save the US Postal Service (USPS) money. They pass some of the savings along to you by charging you lower postage prices.

Postage Saver Low-Cost Software for Postal Bulk Mail The most common type of bulk mail is called "Standard Class". (It used to be called "3rd Class".) Most advertising mail, newsletters, etc. are sent using Standard Class.

To use Standard Class, your pieces must be essentially identical, without any personal information. That means you can't scribble notes to your friends on various pieces. It also means you can not send invoices, statements, and other individual information using Standard Class.

However, you may send form letters on which you personalize the name and address, so long as the rest of the letter is the same for everyone.

If you send more than 500 invoices, statements, or similar mail at one time, you can get a small postage discount by using presorted First Class Mail.


How much can I save?

How much will I save?
The exact postage for each piece depends on how many pieces you have going to what locations. In general, the more pieces you have and the closer they are to home, the better price you get.

There are various levels of savings depending on how much how much of the postal service's work you are willing to do.

Doing the least amount of work, the postage for a typical one-ounce letter (or card, tri-fold, etc.) would range from 24.6¢ to 30.9¢ using Standard Class, compared with 49¢ for regular stamped First Class mail.

There are much greater discounts if you are a nonprofit organization and have received approval from the USPS to mail at nonprofit prices. The nonprofit price for the same piece of mail using Standard Class would range from 12.8¢ to 19.1¢.

Whether it's worth it for you to do the extra work to get to the next level of discount depends a lot on how many pieces you are mailing. For mailings of many thousands of pieces, you probably want to save as much on each piece as possible. For smaller mailings, the cost for additional software or the time you would spend on more complicated preparation is often not worth the few extra pennies saved.

For example, adding barcodes to your addresses would save you anywhere from as much as 2.9¢ per piece, if you have at least 150 pieces going to the same 5-digit zip code, to as little as only 0.8¢ per piece, if you don't. To add barcodes, you must have a perfect 9-digit zip code for every address. To do that, you either need to buy expensive software to verify your zip codes, or you need to send your list to an online zip code service. Either way, you quickly eat up the extra savings unless you are mailing thousands of pieces or your mailing is concentrated within a few zip codes.


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Big savings with the least hassle - Sorting your mail:


Bulk Mail Indicia
If you buy a permit imprint number, you can print a box like this (called an "indicia") on your mail instead of putting a stamp on each piece. That saves a lot of work! For details on what goes in the box, click here.
Sorting software, like Postage $aver, is not the same as CASS software. You need sorting software for all types of bulk mail. You only need CASS software to take advantage of additional discounts for barcoding, which we'll discuss later.
You can earn most of the postage savings available by simply sorting your mail according to USPS bulk mail regulations. That will get you to the discounts discussed above.

Here's what you need:

A permit to mail at Standard Class prices. It lasts a year, and costs $220. You can use it as many times during that year as you want.

A permit imprint account number. This lets you print a bulk price postage box (called an "indicia") on your mail, instead of putting a stamp on each piece. The post office will set up an account for you to deposit your postage payments prior to mailing. There is a one-time charge of $220. It is automatically renewed at no extra charge when you renew your permit.

For details on what goes in the box, click here. You print the indicia as part of the mail piece. You don't need any special software for it. Optional but well worth it.

At least 200 pieces or 50 pounds of identical mail (whichever is less). You must mail that many pieces at one time to use Standard Class.

Mail trays or mail sacks (depending on the size of your mail) and various other mailing supplies. These are provided by the USPS at no charge. You can pick up a bunch when you go to buy your permit.

A FREE short course on preparing bulk mail, at the some major post offices. Many post offices appear to have stopped offering these classes, but they are helpful if you can find one. Optional but well worth it.

Your mailing list on a computer, in database software (like Access, Act!, dBase, Excel, etc.), mailing list software (like ChurchWindows), or in a standard database format. You'll never get this right doing it from pre-printed labels, a word processor label list, or index cards.

USPS "Pave-approved" sorting software. You can try to learn all the confusing rules yourself, and then keep up with the changes, or you can let a software company do it for you. We recommend our Postage $aver product. It's easy to use and will print step-by-step instructions to walk you through preparing every mailing. The Lite version, which does everything you need for non-barcoded mail, is only $29.50 and includes free updates for a year. Optional but well worth it.


What to do to get the discounts:


Sort your mail

Mixed mail sticker

3-Digit mail sticker

The bulk mail counter often has longer hours than the rest of the post office. Remember that if you are using a permit imprint (indicia) instead of stamps, you'll first have to go to the regular counter to pay your postage if you don't already have money in your bulk mail account.
Time to go to the post office

Mailing Statement
You can download blank postage statement forms here:
Regular Standard Class
Nonprofit Standard Class Presorted First Class Periodicals Class
Before actually sorting your mail, you must decide how you will comply with the USPS "move update" requirement, which now applies to all bulk mailings. This means you must make sure that each person or company on your mailing list hasn't moved to a new address, or you must give USPS permission to deliver the piece as addressed regardless of whether the name is still correct.

The easiest way to comply with this requirement is to include "OR CURRENT RESIDENT", or a similar marking, in your address, right under the name. That way, the USPS carrier can deliver the piece to that address whether your addressee is still there or has moved.

If you don't want to add that marking, you must choose from several other options to prepare your list with the latest forwarding information. Please see click here for our simple explanation of how to meet this requirement.

Sort your mailing list according the USPS rules. This is NOT simply sorting it in zip code order. In fact, sometimes you keep a whole zip code together, sometimes you put it with other zip codes, and sometimes you have to split it into different parts. (That's why we recommended you use USPS-approved sorting software. It does the thinking for you.)

Print out your labels or envelopes in this sorted order.

Large pieces of mail and those with irregular shapes need to be rubber-banded together into "bundles". (Normal sized letters and cards no longer are prepared in bundles.) A bundle is simply a stack of mail (no more than 6" thick") held together by rubber bands. You put a little sticker on the top piece of each stack to show what kind of bundle it is. For example, a bundle where all the zip codes have the same first three digits gets a little "3" sticker. Or, instead of the stickers, you can print an "optional endorsement line" on each piece above the address. That line looks like "*******3D 780". If you use Postage $aver, it will tell you whether you need to bundle your mail, what bundles to make and what stickers or endorsement lines to put on.

Next, put the mail in trays, if you are mailing letter-sized mail, or in sacks, if you are mailing larger pieces. Each tray or sack consists of mail that will go to a specific sorting facility and must be labeled using a very specific format. Postage $aver tells you what mail (or bundles of mail) go in what trays or sacks, and creates the tray or sack tags.

When you have it all done, then load it all in the car and take it to the post office. You cannot drop Standard Class mail in the nearest mailbox. Your best bet is to take it to the main post office in your area that actually processes Standard Class mail. They have postal clerks there who specialize in bulk mail, and who may catch any problems with your mailing while you are still there at the post office.

Some neighborhood and town post offices are authorized to accept bulk mail (not all are). In general, you will not get "close location" discounts (called "entry" discounts) unless you take your mail to the main processing office.

When you present your mail, you'll need two forms. One is called the Postage Statement. You can get blank forms from the USPS, or you can download them. It's a summary of who you are, how many pieces you are mailing, how many trays or sacks, and what price you expect to be charged. Postage $aver prints and fills out this form for you.

The second form is called a Price Qualification Report. It's basically a list of what bundles are in each tray, with a running total for each price category. Postage $aver produces this report. While it is not absolutely required for every mailing, it's makes life a lot easier for the postal clerk who has to review your mailing. Remember, you always want to make your postal clerk's life as easy as you can.

You can save some additional postage by adding barcodes to your mail. Barcoding is never mandatory, and the additional savings from barcoding are not nearly as much what you save by doing all the other steps, but for a sizable mailing it can be worth doing. Here's information on how and when to add barcoding.


Postage $aver Software
L. Scott Hochberg Consulting Services
6000 Reims #2605
Houston, Texas 77036-3052
phone: 713-334-5274
fax: 832-201-0632
Click here to send us e-mail

Postage $aver is a registered trademark.
Copyright 2013 L. Scott Hochberg
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