Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Getting Ready For USPS Intelligent Mail

by Nate Schubert

Beginning in May 2011, the Intelligent Mail barcode will be required by the United States Postal Service for automation discounts, business reply mail and confirm service. Integration of the Intelligent Mail Barcode will combine the capabilites of the Postnet and Planet barcodes into one unique barcode, making this a more uniform and efficient process for all parties involved.

What is an Intelligent Mail Barcode?

Formerly known as the 4 State Customer barcode, Intelligent Mail is a new USPS barcode symbology which is used to sort and track letters and flat packages. Use of the Intelligent Mail barcode contains a variety of services including the Confirm Service (OneCode Confirm) and the Address Change Service (OneCode ACS). Intended to replace Postnet and Planet barcodes, Intelligent Mail barcodes are approximately the same size as a traditional postnet barcode. Mailers have been using Intelligent Mail since 2007 for a variety of automation discounts, but it will be required beginning May 2011.

What Are The Benefits of Intelligent Mail?

Aside from the fact that Intelligent Mail will be a requirement by May of 2011, there are a variety of benefits to integrating Intelligent Mail barcoding into your existing mailing procedures:
  • More Data, Less Space. The Intelligent Mail Barcode was created by the USPS in an effort to provide a greater capacity to store data without consuming more space on the envelope. Since the barcode takes up less space, that leaves more space on the envelope for marketing content.
  • Unique Identification. Because the Intelligent Mail Barcode encodes more data, mailers are able to utilize unique identification of up to 1 Billion pieces per mailing run.
  • More Detail and Accuracy. Greater detail and accuracy in your mailing means can result in more reliable information, and thus better strategic decision making.
  • Superior Flexibility. Using Intelligent Mail Barcodes on your mailpieces allows participation in the suite of USPS service programs such as OneCode Confirm, OneCode ACS, First-Class Mail, Standard Mail and periodicals that qualify.
  • Discounted Mailing Rates. Mailers who utilize the Intelligent Mail Barcode in their mailings can qualify for automation prices that can help keep costs low while making the entire mailing process more efficient.

Where Does The Intelligent Mail Barcode Go?

Placement of an Intelligent Mail Barcode on an envelope is very important, especially when using it to qualify for automation prices. When sending letter mail, the barcode should be located either in the address block, or in the barcode clear zone which is located on the lower right corner of any envelope. For flat mail, the barcode may be placed anywhere on the address side at least 1/8 inch from any edge of the address label.

Getting Started With Intelligent Mail

For years, IDAutomation has been providing barcode fonts, components and stand-alone applications for generating Intelligent Mail and other USPS Postal Barcodes in a variety of applications environments. Here are just a few of the products available for creating Intelligent Mail Barcodes:
  • Intelligent Mail Fonts can be used in conjunction with our free font tools to create a readable IMB barcode from a variety of different applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Access databases, Crystal Reports and more.
  • Intelligent Mail Barcode Components are available for generating postal barcodes from environments in ActiveX, .NET, Java, Google Docs to name just a few.
  • Stand-Alone Applications such as the Barcode Label Software and Barcode Image Generators are available for a more robust solution to printing Intelligent Mail Barcodes.
Don't miss the boat when the Intelligent Mail Barcode becomes a requirement to qualify for automation pricing and other crucial USPS services.

More About Intelligent Mail

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