The United States Postal Service (USPS)’s automation mail system utilizes Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology to identify each piece’s final destination. Mailing equipment scans each IMb at a high-speed pace, saving labor and postage costs. However, the sender’s mail piece must meet the specific requirements to ensure barcodes scan correctly. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to spend more on additional postage rather than saving on costs.
How to Create Mail Pieces That Perform Well in Automation Mailing
Automation savings can be seen with postcards, letters, and flats. Each mail piece has its own set of design and formatting requirements to qualify for automation prices:
Postcard mail automation is prevalent among local businesses wishing to spread the word about their services. In addition to an eye-catching design, business owners must also pay attention to formatting and placement when creating their mail pieces.
Senders can now take advantage of larger postcard dimensions. Before, the maximum size was 4″ x 6″, but now it’s 6″ x 9″. Furthermore, the automation mail rate for postcards can generally save a business up to $0.10 per piece. Businesses can save on postage for each card and maximize the larger allotted space to capture their audience’s attention.
Designing your piece with the scanning machine’s capabilities in mind is essential. Postal equipment reads information from the bottom up, so place the recipient’s address at the bottom with the main message above it. Doing so allows the equipment to scan each piece faster, giving you a better rate. Be sure to leave space for the barcode so that it doesn’t cover an integral part of your design later on.
Automation mailing requirements are the same for letters as they are for postcards. Letters must be rectangular, with four squared corners and parallel sides (except for letters made from cardstock, which may have finished corners not exceeding ¼” in diameter). Letters sent through automation must not exceed 3.5 ounces in weight or 6 ¼” x 11 ½” in dimension.
Address your letters horizontally, just as you would for a postcard. Ensure the letter can bend and flex easily, as rigid pieces are subject to higher rates. Avoid closures that could make the mail piece uneven, such as clasps, strings, buttons, or other similar items, for doing so creates issues with scanning. Also, avoid plastic material or glossy paper with a glare that could smear or bleed the barcode’s ink.
Recycled paper, security paper, and patterned envelopes also create distractions that prevent postal machinery from scanning correctly. It’s best to use a white or pastel-colored envelope background and black ink for all lettering to ensure you receive automation rates.
The maximum dimensional standard for sending flats through the automated mailing system is 12″ x 15″. Depending on the actual item you wish to send, the maximum allotted weight can range from 13 to 20 ounces.
When positioning the recipient’s address on a flat, you have more freedom than other pieces. It can be situated in any of the following areas on the back:
- Facing left or right in the top half
- Left or right justified or centered
Place the IMb above the address, ensuring enough space is left for scanning. It’s also important to note that postal machines cannot read addresses or barcodes upside down. Otherwise, the delay in scanning will cost you extra in postage.
Save Money with Automated Mailing Services
The Arkansas Mailing Services team is an extension of your mailroom. Our over 140 combined years of experience and postal industry expertise give you confidence that we’ll presort, process, and deliver your mail in a way that saves time and money. We use the latest mailing equipment technology to streamline your operations and improve efficiency.
We’re a work-share partner with the USPS, which means when you choose us, you’ll receive maximum savings and benefits. As the largest mailing service in Arkansas, we can handle all the nuances the industry might throw your way. We can help you create an automation-qualified mail piece and ensure it’s delivered with the utmost savings – contact us today to request a quote!
If you’re uncertain whether your mail pieces will perform well in the USPS automated mailing system, check out the Postal Explorer.