Postage technology is progressing every year, and if you want to keep sending cost-effective mail, it’s important for your business to keep up with the changes. One example of this is the new IMI compliance standard which goes into effect on December 31, 2024.
Since 2000, the USPS has been using the IBIP, or Information Based Indicia Program. It’s a software management system that’s been helping them to better track mail, make mail flow more efficient, secure data more effectively, and make mailing for business more cost-effective.
While it was a huge leap back in 2000 and the following years, technology keeps moving forward, and now the IBIP isn’t as effective as the USPS and businesses need it to be. For example, once you enter a specific postage amount, the Service Class is deleted, making it difficult for the USPS to manage mail flow efficiently.
To better understand why the switch to the IMI is happening, let’s look at what the USPS and businesses are currently using- the IBIP.
What Is The IBIP?
IBIP stands for the Information Based Indicia Program. The USPS used it as the first digital postage management system to help businesses better manage their mail. It’s like a barcode with information that also has readable information.
The Indicia basically takes the place of postage stamps by printing them and other information directly onto the mail as a barcode. This barcode contains information such as the amount of postage, the origin zip code, where the mail is going, the mail class, weight, confirmation numbers, and tracking numbers.
The IBIP made all of this possible by taking advantage of postage meters.
What Are Postage Meters?
This technology revolutionized the mailing industry for the USPS and businesses.
Postage meters use postage meter indicia to print the necessary postage information right onto the envelope. Businesses find it extremely useful because it costs less than a stamp, takes much less time than manually pasting stamps onto their mail, and is excellent for high-volume mailing.
Soon, the IBIP will be a technology of the past. The USPS is replacing it with an updated version they call the IMI.
What Is The IMI?
The 4 Benefits Of The IMI
1. Better security for you and the USPS
The FIP, or Federal Information Processing, organization sets the standards when it comes to encrypting secure data. They have to update these standards as technology gets smarter, more complicated, and has a greater need for regulation. The IMI fits the new standards much better than the IBIP.
Neither you nor the USPS will have to worry about mail and postage meter security. You’ll keep unauthorized people from using your postage meter, and you can better track who in your company is using postage.
2. More accurate postage
No matter how much skill your back-office postage handlers have when it comes to manually inserting data, mistakes happen. The IMI helps keep these mistakes to a minimum. It automatically calculates postage once you put in the required Service Class.
This way, you save money, and you won’t have to worry about your mail returning due to a lack of the appropriate amount of postage. It also means your mail will reach its destination on time, improving your customer’s satisfaction and your cash flow.
3. Automatic updates
You’ve probably had to deal with rate changes and other updates that can cause over or underpaying for postage.
The IMI deals with this problem by giving you automatic updates every 72 hours, while the IBIP only does this every 90 days. This shorter time frame helps the USPS better manage the flow of mail, which helps it arrive on time and on budget.
This will help you save time and money.
4. Better connectivity
You’ll have access to a dedicated LAN connection instead of a dedicated phone line. This means you’ll have a constant connection instead of having to pay for a dedicated line to check your postage meter.
You’ll no longer need to check to see if your meter has an internet connection. Plus, the constant connectivity will help avoid meter lockouts. This can also save your business money as you won’t have to pay for a dedicated phone line.
Why Did The USPS Mandate The Move To The IMI?
The IMI has more benefits in our technologically evolving world than the IBIP. The USPS only gets a limited amount of postage and transaction data from the IBIP. It also keeps them from automating their back-office operations that handle services such as refunds.
The IMI provides more overall data and even real-time data to make the process of shipping and receiving mail more efficient and less costly. This means the USPS can automate operations for a smoother and better experience.
The IMI also helps by having higher security, ensuring your business uses the correct postage, and limiting costly mistakes.
When Is The USPS Requiring The Switch To The IMI?
Your business will need to switch to the IMI before December 31 of 2024. The USPS will decertify older IBIP meters on June 30, 2024.
While the USPS started using the IMI in 2013, most businesses have been slow to start using it. This makes it harder for the USPS to efficiently handle mail. They have to use two different systems, one of which already slows down their effectiveness. It’s also costing them more money to do this.
Many businesses are already making the switch to take advantage of the enhanced security and other benefits of new and improved postage, addressing, and mailing machines. They don’t have to worry about having to replace their postage machine during a busy mailing campaign. These forward-thinking businesses aren’t risking legally required operational downtime to fix any errors either.
Lineage Is Ready To Help You Upgrade The Mail Efficiency Of Your Business
Business mail is costly enough without old technology, inefficient systems, and mistakes. You can save your business money and your employees’ headaches and time by using the best services for your mail.
Whether it’s mailing systems, postage accounting, or other related fields, you can trust Lineage to help you find a solution for your business. Contact us today to talk about your business’s needs.