Takeaways from the 2015 National Postal Forum

Tom Sellin

By Tom Sellin Director of Business Development at King Solutions

2015 National Postal ForumThe NPF was held May 17-20 in Anaheim CA. There were over 2,700 attendees from across the USA representing the USPS, mailers, and service providers. While it seems like there were perhaps less new major initiates and enhancements introduced at this event as compared with some in the past, it is clear that much progress has been made to streamline USPS operations, simplify mail acceptance and improved mail tracking. The innovative use of intelligence is quickly growing to add value to the use of mail.

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What’s new?

While digital means of communication is everywhere, the industry is finding new and exciting ways to blend the use of mail with digital to enhance their effort to connect and communicate with customers.

I saw some incredible examples at the forum. I was handed a mailing piece with a picture of a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Looks great… View it with your smart phone and watch in motion as it becomes covered with rich, creamy chocolate. Sweet!!

Learn more about the technical aspects of mail.

NPF 2015 Theme “Growing Together”

Our new PMG, Megan Brennan, addressed attendees with a powerful and positive message of continued commitment. The USPS and the industry will continue to work closely together to grow the effectiveness of mail as a key component of the marketing effort.

“As the industry adapts to an increasingly digital world, growth strategies will depend upon sharing and rapidly adopting best practices” stated PMG Brennan, “especially in regard to data and technology use.”

There are many innovations employed in partnership within the industry to effectively compliment the effort of communicating with customers and potential customers.

Over 50% of all mail containers now enter the mail stream using USPS eInduction, and the number of mailers enjoying the benefits of USPS Seamless Acceptance and eInduction is growing quickly. As mail continues on the path of visibility and predictability, it will continue to quickly grow as a key component in marketing campaigns. Predictability enables marketers to measure ROI, and closes the gap to understand more exactly when to ramp up call centers.

Mail Performance

In visiting with some of our customers, there is an immediate concern relating to the variation in the in-home performance once containers are delivered to the SCFs. This situation worsened early in 2015 as the USPS made operational changes geared to result in much needed cost control.

While overall in-home performance levels remain on target for delivery within the standards presented, there are broad variances in the percentages delivered by day within the service, creating problems for a mailer who is looking for in-home consistency.

The USPS continues to work on this, and expects to improve the consistency of in-home performance.

It is also clear to me that it is important for a mailer to understand how mail flows through USPS facilities. This knowledge may be helpful in determining the day of the week you would most likely want to target delivery to SCFs. On Mondays for example, the USPS is faced dealing with much higher volumes accumulated over the weekend. This may cause a delay of mail you expect to deliver on a Monday, as it may need to sit an added day longer prior to running on sortation equipment. It may be fair to consider to what degree your marketing effort aligns with the operational aspects of the USPS.

Perspective

With an outlook I believed to be shared by many in the industry, I feel very positive about the direction the USPS and the industry is headed. It does seem that maybe less things are being “talked about”, and more initiatives are actually coming to fruition.

While focus in recent years seemed to be more about financial survival, it is clear that the innovative and collaborative spirit of the industry is headed toward progressive growth. The industry’s effort to adapt and innovate in a data driven society is very evident.

Get involved and stay in tune with the postal industry.

Educational Opportunities

A wide range of educational topics were provided that appeal to a broad base of attendees. While some were new or updated in this year’s mix, others were redundant of information presented previous NPF sessions. There were 130 workshops offered.

Something that has shifted at more recent NPFs is that Sunday has transitioned from a day of arrival, leisure and “getting ready”, to a key information sharing day loaded with some of the best sessions.

 Staying in Touch

There were plenty of networking events set up to meet new people in the industry, and to stay in touch with many long time industry friends. While I cross paths with many first time attendees each year, a large number of attendees have attended several previous NPFs. There are some great special informational sessions designed for first time attendees to learn how to get the most benefit from the NPF experience.

There were a number of well attended USPS, PCC and Vendor sponsored activities that kept the days and evenings very busy. We were also able to spend excellent quality time with our customers and industry partners in attendance. We also attended joint meetings and sessions with our customers to learn about and provide feedback on issues of particular interest to our customers.

 2016 National Postal Forum

The location of the 2016 NPF is a planned return to Nashville. I have attended several NPFs there over the years. The last time we were there, it was 2010. Just a few days after the forum, we shared pictures of the terrible flooding that occurred the following week. Nashville is a wonderful place for the NPF because of the local culture, the excellent convention facilities, and the location. I hope to see you there!

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