A Postage Meter is a machine that applies official USPS postage to mailable items. This could include envelopes, labels for packaging, or postcards. It is a safe way to purchase, store and monitor postage, as it requires a pin to use. The postage comes from the USPS, imprinting the amount of postage, functioning as stamp, a cancellation and dated postmark. The Imprint, or indicia, has a barcode, to prevent "counterfeit" mail.
Intelligent mail Package Barcode (IMPB) labels are essentially just a way to give the USPS critical information, offers the ability to track parcels from start to final delivery, and includes from nine to eleven scans throughout the process. The USPS uses the data from the labels to expedite delivery, and to reduce costs. With an IMPB label, you will have complete freedom to see where your packages are, as well as free insurance ($50 on Priority Mail, $100 on Priority Mail Express). You will also qualify for Commercial Base pricing (CBP), which offers even more savings. The IMPB labels also offer some of what major competitors do, without being charged the full retail price. The IMPB labels are only able to be used for parcels and flats, so meters are not completely gone yet. In addition, IMpb labels do not extend outside of the US.
In addition to Postage Meters, there are folder/Inserters. These fold papers, and stuff envelopes quickly, easily, and productively. There are Tabbing Systems, which can be used for mail that doesn't use an envelope. Also, Mail Machines and systems can help organize outgoing communications. They are categorized into three main categories: Output Management Solutions, Shipping Solutions, and Mail Preparation and address hygiene. Also, there are address printers, eliminating the need for preprinted envelopes.
There are a few different qualifications for parcels. A parcel must be at least three inches by six inches, by 1/4 inches. However, that doesn't apply to standard parcel, and Parcel select. A parcel cannot be over 108 inches in length and girth, which is the measurement at the thickest part of the package, and a weight limit of seventy pounds. However, if the parcel is machinable, it is only twenty-five pounds. With Standard parcel and Parcel select, the 108 inch limit is raised to 130 inches, with oversized pricing, with a weight of six ounces to twenty-five pounds, except for Parcel select and Parcel return service, with the exception of books or other printed matter, which cannot exceed 25 pounds. If a parcel is large, but under twenty pounds, it will be charged the twenty pound parcel price. If a parcel is over 108 inches, but under 130 inches, they will be charged the oversized price.
What is a postage Meter, and what does it do?
Postage meters have the pros you can see above, as well as some more. Postage Meters are more convenient than trips to the post office, and offer what the rate is, eliminating the need for charts and memorizing. Not to mention, time is saved, due to no trips, or waiting in line. Without stamps, the time that would have otherwise been spent on applying stamps to a stack of envelopes could be used for something more useful. A meter can run through a stack of letters much faster than applying them by hand. The supply will always be there, in comparison to stamps, which could run out if someone forgot to check. With a scale to accurately weigh and assign postage, you only need that which is printed on the envelope, and no more. As you don't need more than one stamp, you can save money, an average of 15% over retail prices. Also, there is a 1¢ discount on every first class letter. Without stamps, worrying about missing or damaged stamps, ones that were paid for, is no longer needed. Meters are able to count how much is spent on postage, helping with accounting, easing and speeding the budgeting. With metered tapes, packages, tubes, and and large, flat envelopes are able to be professionally apply the exact postage needed, as opposed to covering the package in stamps. Envelopes can make an impression on customers, and if your envelope is clean, without multiple stamps that might be crooked, than they could be slightly impressed by how nice your envelope is, perhaps reflecting back on the company. And, with the ability to print logos, your envelopes can become a way to advertise. Envelope marketing is a good idea, after all.
No, those aren't the only differences. In fact, there are more.
|Postage Choice||Postage Meters||Online Postage||Stamps|
|Available||24/7||24/7||Post office hours|
|Equipment Needed||Postage meter with integrated scale||Computer, Printer, Digital Scale||Stockpile of stamps in different denominations, digital scale, rate charts|
|Supplies||Ink cartridges, labels||Ink cartridges, labels||Gas for Transportation to Post Office, Staff Time|
|Discounts on USPS Rates||Yes||Yes||No|
|Postal Fund Management||Credit Extension available||Credit card required||Cash/ credit at the post office|
|Postal ExpenseTracking||Yes, Postal expense app available|
|Individual paper receipts from USPS|
|USPS Extra Services Available (eSignature confirmation, return receipt...)||Yes, with discounts included on meters with internet connectivity||Yes, with discounts||Yes, discounted online only|
|USPS rate changes||Automatic download||Automatic||You need to know about the changes|
There are a few things you should consider to help choose what you need for your mailing needs.
|Mailing System Type||Low||Mid||High|
|Typical Monthly Postage Use||less than $500||$500-$5000||More than $5000|
|Equipment Speed||15-45 Letters/ Min||50-180 Letters/ Min||70-310 Letters/Min|
|Feeding||Hand Feed||Hand or Auto feed||Auto feed|
|Meter Tapes for Oversized Items||Strip Tape Sheets||Strip Tape Dispenser||Strip Tape or Roll Tape Dispenser|
|Weighing (External Scale)||2-10 lbs||2-49 lbs||2-149 lbs|
|Weighing (Internal Scale)||N/A||Optional||Optional|
|Postal Accounting||Summary Info Only||Summary or Transaction level||Summary or transaction level|
|Additional Printing Capability||Simple Meter Ads and Endorsements||Simple Meter Ads and Endorsements||Optional: Customized Return Address and Graphics Printing.|
|Space requirements(LxWxH)||Less than 29"x18"x13"||30"x15"x12" to 80"x25"x24"|
|Typical Supply Cost Ink and Tape (Per Impression)|
|Typical Monthly Lease Price||$20-125||$125-500||More than $500|