An impending change by the U.S. Postal Service from its PostNet barcode to the new Intelligent Mail barcode has some newspaper owners concerned.
Brad Hill, who is one of the National Newspaper Association’s representatives on the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, recently presented a webinar hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Foundation and NNA, where he outlined the coming change and answered questions about how the change will affect community newspapers. Hill has been with Interlink, a mail software company, for 10 years.
The coming change, he said, “will affect everyone one way or another.”
He noted that the postal barcode is there to help newspaper mailers claim automation discounts. This IMb, he added, is not the same thing as the retail barcode some newspapers utilize so their papers can be sold in stores. Those Universal Product Codes are available through the Uniform Code Council.
The automation discounts will lower the postage rate for a piece of mail. Barcodes are used so mail can run on automated flat sorting equipment. And even though a newspaper might not actually be put on an automated sorting machine, Hill said, the newspaper can still claim the discount.
The PostNet barcode is still current, but that changes in January. The reason the USPS is switching to the newer barcode, Hill said, is because it contains more information and will allow the mail to be tracked, with an end-goal of improving delivery times. The old PostNet barcode has only two bar heights and will soon be retired by the USPS. The newer IMb has four bar heights and can hold more information, and it will go into effect Jan. 28, 2013. If newspapers want to continue to claim automation discounts, they must switch to the new IMb, Hill said.