NPF 2016 Coming to Nashville, TN March 20-23
The National Postal Forum will meet in Nashville, TN March 20-23, with the exhibit floor being open on March 21 – 23. The NPF is the premier show to demonstrate and learn about the latest in mailing technology and techniques.
There are educational sessions discussing USPS, postal news, Direct Mail, and general business subjects, with several professional certifications offered. The exhibit floor allows you to explore the latest in the world of mailing and printing hardware and software.
The NPF is always a good show. You should catch it any time it’s near you.
GABBS 2016, The Great American Bargain Book Show, is coming March 2 through 4 in Atlanta Georgia. GABBS is trade show focused on small and independent book stores. There are general business education and industry news based seminars, and a show floor to purchase reduced cost books, and explore other products and services.
For the first time, we’ll be there as an exhibitor. We’ll be talking to people about the ShipSYS Shipping System, our Remote Mail Manifesting services, web page development, the DIY Lobby product, and more.
Hope to see you there!
USPS Announces Rate Change for April 2016
New prices are now available on the USPS website to take effect in April 2016. Before you panic, this is actually great news. The USPS has appealed to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), but most likely it will go into effect.
A little history. Back in 2013, part of the rate increase was a 4.3% “exigent” (emergency) rate increase. This was to help the USPS deal with the unusual circumstances caused by the Great Recession. The PRC agreed to the increase, but only allowed it to be temporary and based on reaching certain revenue goals. Unless the USPS can convince the PRC otherwise, this exigent increase will be allowed to expire when those revenue goals are met. This is forecast to happen in mid-April.
This rate decrease will effect “market dominant” products, which include First Class, Standard Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Periodicals, etc. It will not effect “market competitive” products like Priority Mail and Parcel Post.
ShipSYS Shipping System Released to the Public
The ShipSYS shipping and inventory control system has been in production since 2014. Previously, this was only available as part of a custom programming project. However, we have now created a more packaged system that is suitable for general release.
ShipSYS allows for the importing of order data from Amazon, eBay, Half.com and Zencart. It can also be easily extended to import from other systems. It prints packing slips, shipping labels and can assist in inventory management. After shipping, tracking data can be uploaded back to the selling site. It is integrated into our Remote Bound Printed Matter Mail Manifesting solution. As such, it is primarily designed for businesses that sell books, but can be utilized by anyone.
The system is also growth ready. It ships as a pre-packaged file and database server, providing multi-user access right out of the box. You may not need more than one shipping station to start, but you can add as many as you want without extra licensing fees.
We all know, it’s hard to do anything without a computer. A computer can’t do anything without software. That’s where we come in. Whether you need a multi-user order processing and inventory system, or a web page for your coffee shop, we can help you find the best balance between investment and benefit. If an existing program will do what you need, we can locate it for you. If there isn’t a pre-built solution, we can create a custom system to meet your requirements.
One of our newest products is the ShipSys shipping system. This is a suite of programs designed to provide inventory, packing slip and label printing services for small businesses. The customer is able to import files from Amazon, eBay, Half.com, Zencart and other sources. Packing slips and pick lists are printed. As the items are shipped, tracking data is captured for reporting back to the source selling system. It is integrated into our Remote Mail Manifesting system to allow low-cost USPS shipping, but also provides support for tracking of other shipping methods. The system can be as simple as one workstation, or can scale to support as many shipping stations as needed, all tied to a central server.
Of course, we have developed many web pages over the years, which often involved importing and converting data from prior versions. Web pages have covered a variety of genres, including business information and promotion sites, product based eCommerce sites, stock and decorative photography sales. We have also built web-based inventory and process control systems that allow multiple sites to share information, and even allow customer access to relevant data (and prevent unauthorized access to the system, or to other customer’s information).
An example of this was called Job Ticket. It was set up for a direct mail shop. It was built as a web page in order to provide online access to inventory and job ticket information from multiple locations and devices. Customers can be allowed access to see their inventory and job status. Office personnel have access defined by their business role (Production, Administration, etc). In this situation, security was crucial, both to prevent unauthorized access to the system, and to prevent one customer from gaining access to information related to another customer.
Keeping up with the USPS is a moving target. Their rules and technology are constantly shifting. This presents dangers and opportunities to any business involved in mail or parcel shipping.
We’ve been writing programs and developing procedures to meet USPS regulations since the 1980’s. We know what works, and how fast we have to move when things change. More than that, we know who to ask if we need to clarify a rule, or resolve a dispute in what a rule means.
Want to start a mail house, move your mailing services in house, find the best rate for a new project, or just need help in lowering your distribution costs? Talk to us before you mail, you’ll be glad you did.
We provide USPS Mail Presort and data processing services for a large number of printers, publishers, and mailers. In general, the customer provides a data file, and we process it through in-house and commercial software to provide USPS documentation and label or invoice output (usually PDF files for customer printing).
One of the highlights of this service is our Remote Mail Manifesting service. In this, customers send data files to our systems. They are automatically sorted and prepared as a manifesting mailing. Data files are returned to the customer and transmitted to USPS.
All of these services are pay as you go, saving our customers thousands of dollars in terms of software purchases and license fees, not to mention the postage savings from USPS rules compliance and optimization.
There comes a time in every software system, you need to move on. However, you don’t want to lose the important data you’ve accumulated in the old system, and you certainly don’t want to spend the time and money to rebuild it!
We started dealing with data when magnetic tapes were still in use, yet we’re as current as the latest data access and control systems.
There’s more to a successful data conversion process than programs and data. Our experience has allowed us to develop procedures to analyze and understand the data structures for the input and output file formats. This allows us to determine the most efficient and accurate mapping of the data. More importantly, our procedures ensure data quality, with multiple tests and comparisons of the information throughout the process.
Whether you need to import a mailing list, or convert a website from one eCommerce platform to another, we have the tools and techniques to make your project a success.
Need to find the best software or hardware for a particular application? Perhaps you need an independent opinion in evaluating competing bids on a project. Maybe you’re considering custom software, but you wonder if a commercial package would serve your needs.
Whatever your technical question or problem, we provide the experience and knowledge to help you make the best decision for your business.