With the holiday season in full swing, direct mail marketers have their noses to the grindstone trying to get their customers’ pieces in-home, and on time. This is a challenge every year. Certain factors are making it even more challenging this year. This issue of Ask Randy addresses some of those factors and provides guidance for marketers trying to deliver – literally and figuratively – for their customers in these unprecedented times.
1. What trends are you seeing with freight and in-home deliveries of mail during the current high demand holiday season?
Peak-season mail delivery is always a challenge. Current market conditions are greatly amplifying the situation. LTL (Less then Truckload) services have typically been used in the past to make up for any production or mail consolidation delays. This year, LTL has actually become the least reliable method of transport. As I am sure others in the market can attest, some LTL pickups have been missed or cancelled and LTL delivery has become much less predictable.
Mail Consolidators are certainly experiencing challenges in this tight freight market. I am seeing on-time mail delivery via consolidation to USPS NDC/SCF facilities down 9-13%.
For most of 2021, the USPS mail delivery performance versus last year has greatly improved. We are now firmly in the holiday surge and its is clearly reflected in the two leading indicators. Average days to delivery and on-time delivery % both moved sharply negative in early December. After last year’s holiday season, it took the USPS a full month to recover back to normal delivery timeframes. I advise marketers add 1-3 days to their delivery window thru mid-January.
2. What would you advise a marketer that is looking to hit a specific timed “in-home” delivery window?
Many marketing campaigns try to hit a 3-day in-home window, but also accept the reality that some mail will fall out of that window. Given the proper time needed to deliver to USPS NDC/SCF facilities, 80% of 1st class mail can be delivered in a 3-day window whereas
90%+ can be delivered in a 5-day window.
Based on the mail stream entry point, the in-home windows for marketing class mail has a broader range:
- Local entry: 4-18 days
- Destination Entry: 5-14 days
- CoPal Entry: 6-14 days
- Commingle Entry: 6-14 days
3. Would it be less expensive for a marketer to mail a national monthly #10 envelope program of 1mm pieces out of SPC’s facility, rather than from an east coast USPS entry?
Absolutely. There really should not be much difference in postage cost per piece to mail from various parts of the United States. The big difference is freight delivery charges for shipping to USPS NDC/SCF locations. An East Coast mail service supplier will have freight charges 10-15% greater than a Midwest alternative like SPC (just outside of Chicago).
4. What in-person event have you missed the most due to Covid?
My extended family’s 2020 thanksgiving. It was horrible to not be close to 50 extended family members for more than a year.
5. Cars or Toy Story?
Toy Story without a question: Buzz Lightyear, Woody & Bo Peep win hands down.
Senior Director of Postal Affairs, Logistics & Strategy