IMb™: Where’s the Value?
Here’s a point that gets lost in all the heated public debate surrounding the Postal Service’s towering debt and what should be done to reduce it: Taxpayers don’t support the Postal Service®; its business customers do.
The Postal Service should answer to all its customers – from the grandmother who puts a stamp on a card to her grandchild to the nonprofit organization that raises money through the mail to the utility company that mails out its monthly invoices.
Postal customers are tired of footing the bill for failed investments and poor decisions. That’s why business mailers that follow the ins and outs of postal machinations are worried – and understandably so – that the USPS® is planning to invest millions in what it calls a “one-stop-shop for mail visibility.” This is a big concern because mailers have already paid for a Full-Service Intelligent Mail® (IM®) program that many of them don’t even want. The problem is for most mailers the Postal Service has yet to prove the value of its investments in the Full-Service Intelligent Mail program.
Sure, postal executives love to talk about how much the Full-Service IM program can offer its customers in terms of discounts and tracking information. The reality is there is little evidence of a strong return-on-investment (ROI) for many mailers who must pay thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, to update software programs and realign processes so they can use the IM barcode on their mailpieces and containers. In today’s tight economy, it’s hard to get management to sign off on any new, non-revenue-generating investment especially when the ROI isn’t clear.
The USPS has done a lousy job of articulating a strong value proposition for the Full-Service IMb. Mailers haven’t been buying it in significant numbers so the USPS is forcing their hands by making it mandatory for automation discounts starting in January 2014. That’s just the kind of strong arming that drives customers away.
Rather than forcing mailers to jump through yet another hoop in order to mail hard copy communications, the Postal Service should be focusing on better delivery, better service and lowering the burden on mailers to use the postal network … not the other way around.
Vice President of Product Management and Marketing