Questions? Call Us!

(781) 961-1800

Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Envelope Printing Tip: Intelligent Bar Code Explained

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 11, 2012 11:27:00 AM

Elite Envelope Intelligent Bar Code photo

In a posting in the Federal Register on May 3rd, 2012 under the heading “POSTNET Barcode  Discontinuation,” the Postal Service set a deadline of January 28, 2013 to convert all barcodes to the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) format.

The previous deadline set by the Post Office was postponed due to complaints from some mailers about the cost to retrofit printers and a lack of time to prepare. Since then, the Postal Service has been encouraging mailers to switch over to the IMb with the idea that it will become mandatory eventually.  That date has now been set and it seems highly unlikely that the Post Office would postpone final implementation a second time despite the fact that some mailers are still not happy according to some of the comments on the Federal Register.

IMb has already been in use for some time by many mailers. The Postnet barcode has been in use for decades and contained the actual carrier routing code which allowed for speedier mail delivery; a boon for mailers at the time.  The Intelligent Bar Code allows for the same information plus the ability to identify the mailer, tracking information on the mail piece and data on the type of mail services pertaining to the piece: i.e. Forwarding Service, Return Service, etc.

From the standpoint of a printer or envelope company, converting a customer’s Postnet barcode to the IMb is an easy matter.  It’s just a different graphic image to reproduce with no special inks or anything unusual required. Elite Envelope uses its local (excellent) Post Office reps to supply a PDF of the IMb. Once the file is received, we make a new plate and we’re good to go.

For those using laser printers to spray the barcode on outgoing pieces, there could be some difficulties converting to the IMb.  Some of those difficulties might involve updating software while others could require newer equipment. While it’s never fun having to be forced to invest in new equipment, the benefits to the customer with the IMb are significant and it’s not as if this has just been sprung on the industry. Anyone in the mailing business has been aware of this eventual new requirement for years and should have been making provisions for implementation.

For the print and mail industry, anything that gives end-users better, faster service is a necessary and welcome development. In order to compete with digital communication, we need to be able to provide as many advantages as possible. The IMb increases the value of printing and mailing. How is that not a good thing?

Topics: post office, envelopes and the post office, envelopes and printing, printing and envelopes, intelligent barcode conversion, intelligent bar code

Direct Mail Solutions courtesy of the Post Office

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 3, 2011 10:32:00 AM

I’ve been posting some items recently about the problems facing our postal system. The issues are getting much play in the press lately and more and more people are becoming aware of what many of us have known for years: the post office can’t sustain its cost structure and needs some fundamental reforms in order to survive. This is especially true in light of the decreasing volume of first class mail.

postal cartoon 

Despite its problems, the post office has many professional and conscientious staff committed to helping businesses use the mail system more effectively.  Over the past several decades, I’ve relied on the folks at the Boston Business Center for advice and assistance and they’ve been nothing but prompt, friendly and extremely helpful.   Like any large organization/bureaucracy, the post office has so many rules and regulations that it’s sometimes hard to get a straight answer on things. The folks in the Business Office always come through for me.

The Post Office is committed to technical innovation; although at a glacial pace compared to the private sector where businesses must face the competitive marketplace on a daily basis.  However, new technologies involving automation and computerization are eventually rolled out and these have helped speed the delivery of mail and keep it a competitive way to get results for direct marketers.

The latest improvement is the Intelligent Mail Barcode or Imb. This has taken the existing barcode that is simply a digital reading of the 9-digit zip code and added additional characters which allow for easier sorting and also tracking. 

At Elite, we urge all our customers to convert their business and courtesy reply mail to include the Imb. The end-user must request a Mailer ID number from the Post Office which will also be part of the Imb.  Once that’s obtained, it’s a fairly simple process and the Post Office will even supply you with a pdf file of the face of the envelope including the barcode.  We handle this for our customers all the time and it’s a snap. By switching to the Intelligent Bar Code, a mailer can speed up the reply mail cycle. This can have a positive impact on generating new customers or even cash flow. 

Those of us who rely on the mail for our livelihood either directly or indirectly should support this effort by the Postal Service to keep direct mail viable.

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, post office, intelligent barcode conversion, intelligent bar code, post office problems, direct mail solutions

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!


Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all