The digital age has brought about a lot of changes to the way we view things and how we communicate with each other. More and more things are being done online, but while that is true for personal use in many ways, there are things that absolutely have to be sent by mail. Most things we order—many letters, legal forms, and more—all need to go through the mail and that is a process that has undergone some changes, as one would expect.
With less and less personal mail going through postal services, rates have continued to climb to allow the postal services to maintain themselves. What that means is for businesses is that it is more important then ever to leverage technology to your advantage when it comes to daily affairs. There are a few different ways you can do this and we’ll briefly go over them here as they generally provide cost savings over just running to the postal office and purchasing a roll of stamps if you are doing a lot of mailing.
For individuals or those who want to avoid going to the post office, there is an emerging option for you. Some countries’ postal services have set up a system where you can purchase stamps online or other solutions, such as in Denmark where if you text the postal office you can get a confirmation code that replaces a standard stamp when you write it in. Different nations have their own approaches. The U.S., for example, puts the person in question in contact with a digital postage meter/franking machine company after they sign up with information for the post office. Another option, for those with parcels, is to talk with companies such as UPS that allow you to order online for doing the billing and print out the label there.
However, while that might be a nice trend for individuals, it fails to really account for much in the way of bulk. That’s where we get into what are known as franking machines or postage meters, depending on where you are. Franking privilege means a company has the right to issue stamps, and in any country there are typically a limited number of providers who pay to have that right as well as submit to regulatory laws on how it is used. With that, they can rent out the franking machines or postage meters to clients who pay a monthly fee but get a discount on a per stamp basis. The range for that varies widely, going anywhere up to about 33% but depends on your location, where you’re shipping to, and the type of package you’re sending.
Renting a Franking Machine/Postage Meter is something worth considering if you’re doing a lot of mail. These devices have been around in some form for just over a century, although they have changed greatly from the crank operated mailing help. Nowadays, they mix digital and physical, utilizing a scale and printer that makes sure you have the exact amount of postage spent per package and does it quicker than you can, generally speaking. There are a lot of different models in the field, which makes it important to have an idea of how much mail you need to send, how often, and what type of packages to send.
While modern machines have added in the ability to do things like print logos and are attempting to innovate, that is something to be wary of as a selling feature. While it can be convenient—that is all it is, as most of those features can be found via printing an envelope through your word processor of choice. Thus what you are looking at here at the core is stamp saving, time saving on going to the postal office, discount on stamps, and time spent dealing with stamps.
While some are going that route of adding extra features to their machines, some companies are heading the opposite way in cases. Deciding to focus less on mass mail ease and more on discounts and do it yourself, they rely just on scale for postage and you print out the stamp on the envelope directly via your own printer that they put together. The downside to this obviously is that you lose the ability to have it automated in comparison to higher tech machines and your time savings will be lesser as a result.
One thing to note though is that companies are notoriously tightlipped in this industry on how much stamps will cost you. Looking online won’t really get you far—outside of one particularly good UK article—so you have to rely on asking for quotes and knowing what solution works best for you. There are some tools that can help you get quotes from multiple sites based on what you require out there for Franking Machines and Postage Meters, which can be useful. Remember when looking at it to also ask questions on the contract, as some of them will require that you get supplies and support through them only so you need to make sure that the rates you get there are fair as well.
The Digital Age is changing how we do business everywhere, but postage is still a key part for now. Some of those moves are to much more entrepreneurial efforts via the Internet or just the changing landscape of what types of businesses the economy supports. What works for you and what works for others are going to help decide the future of this industry in general, which influences many in subtle ways especially as the cost of stamps continue to rise.
Written by: Don Parsons