USPS opens door for small businesses to use the mail
Postmasters across the United States are set to hold a series of special events over the next few months, to attract small businesses into using a new simplified mail service for local advertising. The US Postal Service has more than 1,300 “Grow Your Business” days scheduled around the country to highlight a new market trial called Every Door Direct Mail.
The trial, which could become permanent if successful, aims to make it much easier for small businesses to use the US Mail to promote their products and services to local consumers.
It waives permits and mailing fees, as well as simplifying requirements for addressing direct mail items.
David Mastervich, manager of catalogues, periodicals and saturation mail for the US Postal Service, said the new service was following one of the new Postmaster General’s core strategies – that of seeking to grow mail volumes by improving the customer experience.
He told Post&Parcel that small businesses had identified permit and mailing fees as a key barrier to using the mail, and the requirements to have up-to-date mailing lists for local areas.
After the registration website for the service went live last week, Mastervich said his team was already getting a good response from businesses.
“We’re getting very, very good stories from businesses across the country, that this is fitting with exactly what they are looking for,” he said, adding that around 500 companies had signed up for the service in just the first few days.
“They’ll be small mailings, but I think there will be a lot of them,” he said.
Based on the Postal Service’s Standard Mail saturation flats service, Every Door Direct Mail is limited to mail pieces with the standard flats dimensions, and up to 3.3 ounces in weight per piece.
Mailings entering the postal stream via retail or local delivery units will be limited to 5,000 per day per mailer, but an unlimited volume can be entered into bulk mail entry units.
Mailings must be handed into a local delivery unit and addressed to a “local postal customer”, and in cases where they are not destined for the local area, will need a city, state or zip.
Mailers must send items to every active address in a local area or carrier route, although there is an opt-out system for consumers to contact mailers if they do not wish to receive future items.
However, the simplified addressing service does not require mailers to have individual names and addresses for recipients.
USPS had previously been providing a simplified addressing service for items going to rural routes, but the new service will open up the capability in cities and suburban areas, under the new marketing name Every Door Direct.
Mastervich said the USPS has approval from US regulators to run the market trial for up to two years.
But, he guessed that if the current program proved popular, the Postal Service could be in a position to go back to the Postal Regulatory Commission to seek a permanent status for Every Door Direct Mail within six to nine months.
While postmasters will be targeting small businesses to make use of the service through their Grow Your Business events, larger businesses will also be able to make use of Every Door Direct for local direct mail.
“It is local advertising mail, but that does not mean that a larger, big box store for instance a Lowe’s or Best Buy or Sears couldn’t also use the product,” Mastervich said. “If they’re doing store openings in certain geographic locations, they may want to use the product to target a certain geographic area around those new stores.”
Away from Every Door Direct, the USPS manager said the Postal Service was also currently looking into how it might tackle similar barriers that larger mailers face when using the regular mail, including a possible rethink on the concept of mailing permits, as well as ways to improve business mail acceptance procedures.
He said new “Seamless Acceptance” programme was being developed by the USPS technology group, which would mean mailers being able to send in data for their mailings, which would reduce the need for processing of the items.
“We’re looking at using as much technology as we can to help the larger businesses improve their customer experience, so they are able to give us as much volume as they can,” he said.
“We are studying it all, looking at how we can make it easier for customers of all sizes.”