On August 13, the United States Postal Service (USPS) filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of its intent to test-market a new product called Plus One. This is an experimental product that is being test-marketed as of October 1, 2019. The USPS plans to run the market test for a period of two years, although this could vary depending on the success of the test.
What Is Plus One?
Plus One is an addressed advertising card that may be mailed as an add-on piece with a USPS Marketing Mail letter “marriage mail” envelope containing multiple advertising pieces. Marriage mail is a service provided by third-party providers who combine advertisements from multiple businesses into a single mail piece. The goal of this new product is to offer small- and medium-sized businesses (primary users of marriage mail) an expanded, affordable channel to market through the mail. This will benefit mail service providers by providing another service offering to retain and grow business and benefit the USPS by expanding its customer base.
Plus One Requirements
The new Plus One test product has a number of requirements:
· The host piece to which the Plus One piece is added on must be mailed as a commercial automation USPS Marketing Mail Saturation marriage mail letter. A minimum of 90% of the mailing must be Saturation sorted; the remainder may be High Density or High Density Plus.
· All mailings must be entered at the destinating Sectional Center Facility (DSCF).
· The Plus One add-on card must be part of the same mailing as the host piece, addressed to the same delivery points.
· The Plus One advertiser must also advertise or have advertised within marriage mailings.
· Only one Plus One card is allowed for each delivery point within the mailing.
· A full automation address with Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) must be included on both the host piece and the Plus One add-on.
· The Plus One card may measure up to six inches by 9.5 inches, must be at least 0.009 inch thick, and must meet USPS Marketing Mail Letter design standards.
Test Market Pricing and Areas
The USPS is test-marketing several different price points for this new product; the price points vary based on geographic regions of the country. To facilitate this, the USPS has divided the US into four sections: West (including Alaska and Hawaii), South, Midwest, and Northeast. Price points were randomly assigned to each geographic region:
West = 8.5¢ per piece
Northeast = 9.0¢ per piece
Midwest = 9.5¢ per piece
South = 10¢ per piece
The USPS hopes that this test marketing will provide insights regarding a final price point for this product should they decide to make it permanent.
Preparing Plus One Mailings
Essentially, the Plus One mail pieces are treated like a Detached Address Label (DAL). For purposes of preparing the mail, mailers will need to process two presorts for these mailings: one for the host piece and another for the Plus One pieces. It is important to note that not every delivery address within the marriage mailing will necessarily receive a Plus One piece. For example, if a lawn service company wishes to promote their services using Plus One, they obviously would not want to deliver these pieces to non-homeowners, such as apartment dwellers. Since the Plus One pieces must be trayed and palletized separately from the host pieces, and the tray tags and pallet placards for the Plus One portion of the mailing must contain a “PLUS ONE” printed designation, the only practical way to accommodate this is to run two different presorts.
It is also important to note that although a Mail.dat file may be generated as part of the presort process for the Plus One portion of the mailing, only the Mail.dat file for the host piece portion of the mailing is uploaded to PostalOne! The Mail.dat files for these mailings must contain a Special Fees Record (SFR), and that must be populated with a type “A” fee. PostalOne! will then apply the Plus One fee to Line 36 (Special Service) of the postage statements.
The Plus One pieces will be considered “undocumented pieces” due to the fact that although they are barcoded, no Mail.dat file (eDoc) is submitted for those pieces. PostalOne! will not include these pieces in the undocumented error threshold calculations.
The USPS filing document, along with an Excel workbook outlining the three-digit ZIP Codes for each geographic test area, may be found on the Postal Regulatory Commission website at https://www.prc.gov/dockets/document/110094. The PostalPro website also contains a dedicated landing page for the Plus One market test at https://postalpro.usps.com/plus_one, which includes a requirements document, FAQs, regional pricing information, and sample tray tags and pallet markers.
This article originally appeared in the November/December, 2019 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.