U.S. Postal Service: 'Intelligent Mail' Fully Operational by 2009

The U.S. Postal Service today presented its new vision to revolutionize business mail by using standardized intelligent barcodes, continuous mail tracking, and real-time feedback to business customers. These services, referred to as Intelligent Mail, will be fully operational for all commercial mailers by 2009.

"Intelligent Mail is like having a GPS system for mail," said Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer John E. Potter during the January Board of Governors meeting where the vision was presented.

Intelligent Mail

The centerpiece of the technology is one standardized intelligent barcode used on each piece of mail (letters and large envelopes known as "flats") as well as each mail container. As these travel through the postal network, and are scanned at key points, the technology enables business customers to "see" their mail at every step -- from arrival at the postal facility to processing to transportation to delivery.

The Intelligent Mail process is fully automated. Customers provide advance notification of each shipment electronically, enabling the Postal Service to better match appropriate resources. Verification -- checking address quality, pre-sorting accuracy, and postage -- also is automated instead of performed manually.

This sophisticated system enables real-time data to be captured and communicated -- identifying problems such as bad addresses and improper pre- sort and feeding the information back to the mailers for correction.

"Constant feedback is what really differentiates Intelligent Mail from our current process," said Potter. "This increases the overall value of mail as a business communications medium."

The new system also provides real-time data to improve service measurement, enabling the Postal Service to pinpoint problems immediately, rather than receive evaluations from outside sources after the fact.

Customer Benefits

Intelligent Mail enables business customers to better plan promotions and payments.

* Increases ability to track mail.

* Saves time through automated acceptance and verification.

* Enables electronic postage payment and around-the-clock access to account.

* Allows businesses to compare printer services.

* Adds more envelope space for valuable marketing messages.

* Provides real-time feedback on mail quality.

The full suite of products that currently encompass Intelligent Mail are being pilot tested by three large businesses and results are promising. One large mailer improved its "scan rate" (automated reading) to 99 percent, ensuring 140,000 pieces a day were processed by postal equipment instead of manually.

Everybody Wins

With Intelligent Mail the entire mailing process is seamless, transparent and efficient. Advanced planning, increased communication through "e- dialogue," trouble-shooting, and better use of technology provides benefits to both the Postal Service and the business community.

"Intelligent Mail is the smart way for customers to do business," said Potter. "Our vision is becoming a reality and we're looking forward to having everyone on board by 2009."