Saving Mailing Costs with Variable Data Printing23 May, 2011 By: Clif Hilderley
TriStar Graphics of Hempstead, New York digitally prints more than 100 postcard jobs for various organizations from March through November each year. The jobs aren't huge, averaging about 7,000 pieces, but the nature of the messaging is such that the mailing dates are very critical and always rushed. TriStar usually receives the customer's graphics and mailing list in the early afternoon and the job has to be printed and in the mail the following day. Typically, the jobs would be printed in the evening or overnight to get them to the mail house first thing in the morning.
While it is good, steady work, three issues were nagging Robert Allen, TriStar's owner:
- The cost of mail house services was nearly $30,000 per year,
- Meeting the time requirements of the mail house meant the printing was always rushed, and
- The quality of inkjet addressing could never match that of digital printing.
Allen investigated ways to handle the mailings in-house, but none of the options were satisfactory. The investment in presort software, licenses and an inkjet printer was estimated at $10,000 to $12,000 with an annual cost of $5,000 to $6,000 for 100 print jobs, not including labor. Alternatively, the cost of presort and variable data printing (VDP) software and licenses was estimated at a minimum of $6,000 with an annual cost of $2,500 to $3,000 per year, not including labor.
While it was clear that there were some savings potential in doing the mailings in-house, Allen concluded it did not offset the cost, complexity and added labor of in-house mailing. "We're printers, not software experts," says Allen. "We really wanted better quality address printing than an average inkjet would provide, but that would have meant hiring someone to handle the VDP software for us."
Allen then turned to Digital Formatting Services (DFS) to answer TriStar's issues.
Now, when TriStar receives the graphics and mail lists for their postcard jobs, they simply upload them via the internet to DFS. DFS performs the cleanup, mail presort and NCOA and then merges the graphics and mail list into VDP print files. TriStar downloads the VDP print files, usually a few hours later, and prints the addressed, mail-ready postcards on their Konica-Minolta C8000.
Following detailed instructions that DFS calls "Do-It-Yourself" or D-I-Y mailing, TriStar cuts and then separates the postcards into mail trays. It takes less than ten minutes to put the postcards into the trays, and since DFS also provides all the documentation for the USPS, the postcards are ready to be delivered to the post office.
According to Allen, "The VDP and D-I-Y mailing services from DFS cut our addressing and mailing costs in half. We now have more scheduling flexibility when printing these postcard jobs and the quality of the address printing is much better. The best part is that we reduced our job cost more than 15% and we're doing less work."
The VDP print file creation and mail presort and NCOA services from DFS have saved TriStar thousands of dollars in mail house costs on their static postcard print jobs.