Trends in Print and Mail

The Berkshire Company Blog

The Unstoppable Move to Less Paper, and the Upcoming Upheaval of the Mailing Industry

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 12, 2017 6:30:12 PM

Roaming through a used book store, I came across "Writing with a Word Processor" by William Zinsser. Written in 1983, the book chronicles Zinsser teaching himself how to use an IBM Displaywriter – one of the first office word processors. More than just a look back to the adoption of modern technology, the book provides some insight to what we can expect in the future – less paper.

+ Read More

Industry Vendors / Operations Management / Technology / Outsourcing / Strategy

Healthcare Payers and the Shift to Digital Communication: A Survey

Posted by Mark Fallon on Oct 24, 2017 12:01:11 PM

My bank gave me a choice – receive my monthly statement online, or pay a fee for a paper copy. For my car loan, the interest rate would be a point lower if I accepted automatic withdrawal and online notices. My utility company prints a request on every bill – and envelope – to pay electronically. As a consultant, I’ve seen several clients in these industries replace physical mail with digital documents.

One industry that has trailed on the move to digital has been healthcare – both providers and payers. Challenges include systems integration, member and patient preferences, and of course, federal and state regulations. Due to interpretations of the Affordable Care Act, many healthcare companies saw an increase in their volumes of physical mail beginning in 2013.

Until recently.

+ Read More

Operations Management / Technology / Digital

20 Trustworthy Tips

Posted by Mark Fallon on Sep 19, 2017 7:23:13 AM

Continuous improvement leads to continued success. Small, incremental steps can have significant and long-lasting impact on your operation.

Here are 20 tips to consider along your path to excellence.

+ Read More

Operations Management / Technology

Why Use the RFP Process? Because it works!

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 18, 2017 9:48:56 AM

Recently, I participated in an online discussion about the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. It was similar to the conversations I have with clients when we recommend using an RFP to select a new vendor for equipment, software or services. In both cases, the argument revolves around whether the results justify the hard work and time required.

To be clear, a well-executed RFP requires substantial effort. At a high-level, the process includes the following steps:

+ Read More

Operations Management / Technology / Outsourcing

Color, Color, Everywhere

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 11, 2017 5:01:00 AM

My document production team was excited. We’d already surpassed our goal of driving down the costs of color printing down to less than 35 cents a page. With the installation of our new digital press, we’d cut those costs in half – less than 15 cents per page. For full color!

This was in the late 1990s, when I was the Vice President of Document Technology & Delivery at State Street Corporation. We’d just installed the IBM model of Xeikon’s digital press; one of the first roll-fed, full-color digital printers. It was a major leap forward for the team, with a steep learning curve. Success was the result of a lot of hard work and late nights.

+ Read More

Operations Management / Technology

Selecting the Right Software

Posted by Mark Fallon on Apr 4, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Back in the 1990s, I developed a presentation entitled “Information Technology for Mail Center Managers.” The section on purchasing software was pretty basic. Were your applications on a mainframe, a server or desktop? If a server, what version of Microsoft? If desktop, were you Microsoft or Apple? In the main categories – document composition, address management and package tracking – there were just a few vendors to consider.

+ Read More

Industry Vendors / Operations Management / Technology

Robots – Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You

Posted by Mark Fallon on Mar 7, 2017 5:00:00 AM

While there have been a lot of stories about companies exploring the use of airborne drones to make deliveries, another form of technology has quietly been making significant inroads – robots.

Last week, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a law allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks in Virginia. From published reports, this is the first legislation in any state explicitly allowing the use of these types of robots. The law has strict limitations – the devices can only weigh up to 50 pounds, must be monitored remotely and are limited to speeds of 10 miles per hour – but this is just the beginning.

+ Read More

United States Postal Service / Technology

Who's On First?

Posted by Mark Fallon on Feb 28, 2017 9:15:59 PM

Last week saw the announcement of another merger in the print/mail industry. Two national document outsourcing companies will form a new entity, with an interesting new name.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter, plus Google alerts and subscriptions to various industry newsletters, I try to stay up to date with the latest news. Lately it seems that even this isn’t enough. Product offerings, corporate structures and company brands change more frequently than the roster of the Boston Red Sox. I look out at the field, see a lot of unfamiliar names and wonder, “Who’s on first?”

+ Read More

Industry Vendors / Technology / Outsourcing

Trends in Print and Mail - The Top 10 Posts from 2016

Posted by Mark Fallon on Jan 3, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Exigent postage rate increases were repealed. The upcoming rates changes will have some positive impact for First Class Mailers. Selecting vendor-partners, for technology or outsourcing services, remains a challenge. And legislative reform was seriously considered by Congress – before ultimately deciding to do nothing. These were just a few of the major stories impacting our industry over the last year.

We here at The Berkshire Company can't predict what changes 2017 will bring, but we do know more changes are on the horizon – from the implementation of “USPS Marketing Mail” to new technologies to reinforcing good management practices. We plan on covering those, and other issues, in the coming year. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see covered, leave a note in the comments, or send me an email at

In case you missed them, here are the 10 most read posts from 2016:

+ Read More

United States Postal Service / Industry Vendors / Operations Management / National Postal Forum / Technology

The Extra Ounce

Posted by Mark Fallon on Dec 20, 2016 5:01:00 AM

* Actually, it’s an extra 1.5 ounces!

At the 2016 National Postal Forum in Nashville, Postmaster General (PMG) Megan Brennan announced that the US Postal Service (USPS) would file to expand the weight allowances for commercial, presorted First-Class letter mail. For some time, mailers have been able to add a second ounce to this weight category at no additional charge. In Nashville, PMG Brennan stated that the USPS would increase the weight limit to 3 ounces. Well – she more than delivered – as the 2017 rates include letter-sized, automation mail up to 3.5 ounces.

This is a great opportunity for mailers. This weight increase means savings of between $0.25 and $0.37 per piece for many mailers. Additional pages, heavier stock, more inserts – the opportunities are substantial. What should mailers do?

To start – print and mail operations managers should schedule meetings with the marketing and sales departments of their companies to explain the new rate structure. Print/Mail service providers should be setting up similar briefings with their customers. For example, additional inserts in bills, notices and statements are an easy method of increasing the value of the mail.

But that’s just the beginning. Mailers should reconsider the design of every mailpiece and exploit the prospective ways to take advantage of this rule change. Are there flat pieces that can be redesigned as 6 x 9 letter mail? The savings would be substantial. As a reminder, commercial, automation letter mail must meet the physical standards set in the Domestic Mail Manual, specifically Section

Machinable letter-size mail is:

+ Read More

United States Postal Service / Operations Management / Technology

Subscribe to our blog

Subscribe via email

About the Company

The Berkshire Company improves business processes in your print & mail operations, helping you solve real problems.

Blog Authors

Latest Posts