How to Save Money on Postage: They call it ‘intelligent’ bar coding for a reason

In many areas of business, seemingly small differences have big impacts on profit, success, and growth. We recently covered how to save money by being well-informed when it comes time to decide between using First Class or Standard Mail. Next, we’re going to explain the difference between machinable mail and automation, and how to make sure your mail piece designs aren’t limiting you and your clients’ profits.

Imagine This

Imagine that each piece of mail your business sends out costs at least a little bit (and sometimes a lot) more to send than it would if a certain design feature was present.

Now, focus on the fact that the situation described above is totally real. Look at the grid below, and see how a price difference as seemingly insignificant as $ 0.012 can add up.

Number of mail pieces Cost for machinable automation letters (no entry/AADC) ($.279 each) Cost for machinable (no entry/AADC) non-automation letters ($.291 each) Cost difference
1,000 $279 $291 $11
5,000 $1395 $1455 $60
10,000 $2,790 $2,910 $110


Overall, the difference between machinable mail and automation is pretty simple— automation mail is 100% intelligent mail bar coded. Machinable non-automation mail is not bar coded but still qualifies to be run in the USPS’ high speed sorting equipment. All it takes from a design standpoint to produce automation-eligible mailpieces is the foresight to leave space for the bar code to be added.

How to get the less expensive rates

To get the less expensive automation rates, your mailpieces must be barcoded. As shown in the table above, the cost difference between machinable mail and automation adds up even when it’s “only” a few cents per piece.

Furthermore, non-automation machinable mail is limited to the two highest price categories of AADC and mixed AADC and are not eligible for the lower price categories of three and five digit sortation.

Wrap up

Design-wise, automation and machinable mail can appear nearly identical. The only difference is the bar code. The benefits of using intelligent bar codes are clear. The coded bars make it easier for the USPS sortation equipment, and the USPS rewards shippers who make their jobs easier. Stay tuned for next week’s blog, in which we’ll offer up some cold, hard facts about exactly how much money you could be leaving on the table if your mail design isn’t eligible for the best deals the post office has.


Part Three: The Benefits of Machinable Mail

Eric Weisgarber

Eric Weisgarber is the founder and President of Allegiant Marketing Group, Inc. His calling is helping business professionals grow their gross profits, net profits, and cash-flow through through marketing services, systems implementation and consulting. His business calling is aligned with his life\’s purpose – developing people and serving the community through discipleship.


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