No revised date has been set by the USPS for the retirement of the POSTNET barcode. In case you're wondering why the date was moved in the first place, as of February of 2011, about 40% of mail with barcodes was still POSTNET. The IMb made up nearly 51% of mail (with 19% Basic and 32% Full-Service) and the remaining nine percent was non-automation mail.

With new leadership at the USPS driving a more customer-focused approach, the organization decided to remove the mandate and is considering better ways to motivate mailers to migrate to the IMb.

Offering access to CONFIRM scan data for Full-Service IMb mailers is one idea the USPS believes will add more value. Per the USPS, this data would be made available in the same way that CONFIRM vendors get it today — in a flat file that requires some effort to convert the data into useful information. The concept is to offer much more scan data as more scans are being made to provide the enhanced tracking levels desired by the USPS. Mail tracking vendors welcome the prospect of having more data because they can offer more insight on the value of mailing campaigns and determine in-home delivery dates. Ideas like this can help mailers understand the additional value of the IMb over POSTNET barcodes.

There's no doubt that the USPS still wants mailers to migrate to the IMb — preferably the Full-Service option. Meanwhile, the USPS continues to work on its systems for tracking and reporting on the IMb.

Related to the IMb, we are recently hearing about Seamless Acceptance again. You may recall that Seamless Acceptance was discussed back in 2008 (or sooner), but things went quiet with the challenge of describing just what Seamless Acceptance was. When IMb Full-Service was announced, it captured the headlines. Now that things have settled down a bit (in terms of IMb making the headlines), Seamless Acceptance is back!

Define Seamless Acceptance, Please

So just what is Seamless Acceptance? From what we know, it involves mail induction that doesn't require physical inspection. In today's environment, as mail arrives to the USPS, physical mail inspection includes checking mail volumes and preparation, running samples through Merlin to measure Move Update compliance and barcode readability, and a host of other compliance issues. The concept around Seamless Acceptance is:

· to bypass the inspections and go directly to mail processing

· the USPS will then validate mail quality by reading the IMb while processing the mail (yes, the IMb will be required).

· Conceptually, if a mailpiece cannot be processed with automation due to the way the mailer prepared the mail, and assuming some reasonable thresholds, the USPS may look to recover unearned discounts from mailers that fail the quality thresholds.

Assuming this definition accurately describes what Seamless Acceptance will do, then accountability for compliance to the USPS requirements will no longer be a sampling at the point of induction, but rather, a piece by piece report card.

In summary, the quality of all parties in the value chain will be verified on every piece.