Marketing Mail Flats: The Industry’s Headache


Marketing Mail Flats… These three words in sequence are enough to make anyone in the mailing industry cringe and run for cover. Flats are slow sorting, hard to commingle, extremely labor intensive and just flat out hard to handle. This has proved true not only for the industry, but the United States Postal Service, as well.

This USPS Market Dominant product goes through an ever-evolving rate and structure change. Year after year, labeling list after labeling list, change after change, flats have evolved into what it has become today: a headache for the industry.

In an effort to alleviate this headache, USPS rolled out Phase 1 of flats restructuring, spending 1.3 billion dollars and implementing the Flats Sequencing System (FSS). USPS originally installed over 100 of these machines in the highest populated areas throughout the United States. This impressive machine, a whopping football field in size, was thought to be the end-all be-all for flats sequencing. In theory, the FSS would save 600 million dollars in labor annually by automatically sorting flats into walk sequence, instead of relying on mail carriers to manually sort. But, when USPS realized only 30% of the nation’s flats were actually hitting these machines, they quickly ousted planes for Phase 2. The saga continues.

As we know all too well, postage is the largest expense in the mailing industry. However, mailers often get caught up believing postage is the only expense. This is certainly not the case when it comes to Marketing Mail Flats, as labor hours, bundling/sacking equipment and expensive sorting software costs need to be factored into the final mailing cost. One thing is for sure…. If USPS could do away with bundling and sacking to make this less of a labor burden, we’d all be forever grateful.

About Ben Marcola

Ben Marcola has a decade of experience in the mailing industry. Joining the team as a machine operator, Ben’s eagerness to learn helped him to thrive in the fast-paced, ever-changing world that is the industry. He quickly obtained commingling and mail “know-how”, to growth throughout On-Demand Mail Services. Ben has worked in all aspects of commingling, from Plant Manager to Sales and Account Management. Ben’s vast experience in operations at ODMS has given him a unique perspective and skill set when helping clients.


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