Small businesses using the mail in the United States can access better postage discounts through a next-generation mailing system unveiled by Pitney Bowes this week.
The Connecticut-based communications technology giant says its new pbWebConnect software system can mean SMEs enjoying mail discounts varying from 1% on a small package up to 15% on USPS Priority Mail and 25% on express mail.
The new system is an add-on for Pitney’s existing mailstation2 postage meter system, which connects with the Internet to provide online postage – and online postage discounts.
As well as discounts, the system aims to streamline the mailing process for small companies, from printing and applying postage, shipping labels and tracking codes to free address correction capabilities and even the addition of mobile QR barcodes to mailpieces.
Effectively, the system brings together the concepts of online postage with the ease for small businesses of using a metering or franking machine.
Jeff Crouse, the vice president and general manager for small and medium business at Pitney Bowes, told Post&Parcel today that customers using the system can prepare their mail so that they avoid USPS retail prices, and there is no volume requirement to access the discounts.
“Online postage is eligible for discounts with the Postal Service that you can’t get through a retail window because of the value we provide to the Postal Service,” he explained.
“We take care of a lot of the pieces of making sure that that package is ready for entry into the Postal Service network, and that takes cost out of the Postal Service, so they’ve given us discounts for customers who use our software.”
The new mailingstation2 with pbWebConnect integrates with the Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail barcode system to provide tracking capabilities, with customers able to check on their mailpieces through their Pitney Bowes account.
Being connected to the Internet also means the system will always be updated to the latest postage rates.
Crouse said the new pbWebConnect system is part of an increasing integration between the physical mail sphere and the digital world for small business customers, and now offers a “gateway” to those SMEs to access some of Pitney Bowes’ other digital products to further improve their customer communications.
This could include the company’s email marketing system, pbSmart Connections, to its QR code marketing system, pbSmart Codes, and hybrid mail system pbSmart Marketer, which allows a customer to set up a whole direct mail marketing campaign.
For the small business, the way they communicate with their customer is changing on an almost daily basis,” said Crouse. “What we’re doing is really centralising everything our customers need, whether it’s the physical billing using our postage meters, or whether they are going online with an email marketing programme. As our customers are doing more digital communications, we’re doing more digital communications.”
Hybrid mail – where communications can be sent electronically for printing and finishing local to the recipient – is proving particularly valuable for small businesses, Crouse said.
“Increasingly entrepreneurs are able to run their businesses entirely from a coffee shop,” said the Pitney Bowes SMB vice president. Crouse said SMEs were being attracted to the low-cost and easy process that hybrid mail means for setting up direct mail campaigns.
But, he also said there was a lot of “untapped potential” in hybrid mail for small business transactional mail.
“Small businesses like the mail for transactional mail, and they’re getting more comfortable with being online, engaging outsource vendors to do all of it, so it can make all the sense in the world to outsource the printing and finishing of your invoices on a monthly basis,” he said.
Source: Post&Parcel/Pitney Bowes