How do you know if your shipping software has been kept up-to-date with these new USPS requirements?
This article will provide you with some direction and lets you know if your shipping software is doing it right to ensure that your packages reach their destination on time, with tracking and at the best possible price.
First, let’s talk about the USPS barcodes of the past. Before implementing Intelligent Mail barcodes, USPS had POSTNET and Planet Code barcodes. For example POSTNET barcodes would have looked something like this:
As described above, POSTNET has been replaced by the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) (also known as OneCode Solution or 4-State Customer Barcode). IMb combines all previous Postal Service barcodes and puts them into a single barcode for letters and flats. The IMb looks similar to the POSTNET barcode at a glance, but is very different in content. The new IMb barcodes look like this:
What is the right Intelligent Mail barcode for packages?
For letters and flats, IMb technology is used but this type of barcode is not used for packages. For packages there are specially formatted labels with Intelligent Mail package barcodes (IMpb) that look like this:
The Intelligent Mail barcodes for letters and flats were originally required beginning May 2011, however, the USPS postponed the requirement date, allowing mailers to continue receiving automation discount rates using the POSTNET barcode after the May 2011 deadline. We have been told that the extension has expired and the POSTNET barcodes are no longer used by USPS.
For packages, effective January 27, 2013, barcode requirements changed. At that time, package shippers receiving discounts had to switch to the Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) along with other special labeling requirements. The IMpb and the new labeling requirements are now mandatory for all tracking and Extra Services barcodes, and includes all First-Class Package Services, Parcel Select, Parcel Select Light Weight, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail, and Library Mail parcels in order to receive special presort and destination entry pricing.
Without using properly formatted labels and IMpb technology, packages could be delayed as they may need to have special handling to be processed!
The new package labels have several important changes to help your packages get delivered on time. When a USPS package moves from your business to your customer’s location, it passes through many hands and is processed by several different types of equipment. The new labels standards developed by USPS are to insure that this happens as efficiently as possible. Therefore, it is very important that all of your USPS labels contain all the new components and are done correctly on each and every label if you plan to get the service you expect.
Some of the new USPS changes include things like new Service Icons so all USPS services used for packages will be easily recognized by handlers and new Service Banners, with all the correct service names, that also further reinforces handling accuracy. Also included is the all-important new Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) that should be on each and every package label so it is properly sorted and tracked. Click here for information on the new USPS package labeling requirements using IMpb.
The new tracking capabilities alone make using the new IMpb barcodes invaluable when it comes to making sure your customers receive their holiday orders on time and they provide you with the ability to track your package if there are any delivery issues. Click here to learn more information about IMpb barcodes for USPS packages.
For this holiday season, the IMpb barcodes and new label formats should be used for every package shipped using USPS. That is, if you want your packages to be delivered on time, at the best price and with the ability to be tracked…and who doesn’t want that?
If your current shipping software does not support the new barcode and label format requirements, we highly recommend you find a shipping system that does so as soon as possible before the holiday crunch.
All of Harvey Software’s current shipping software that is Powered by CPS and supports USPS package services also supports the new IMpb barcodes and is fully carrier certified along with being quick and easy to install. Our USPS shipping software solutions have options for both IMpb compliant on-line Internet postage and USPS eVS package processing for high volume package shippers. So, if your current shipping software solution cannot be upgraded to take advantage of the new IMpb label requirements, let us help. Click here to see our current products for options.