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Article: Postage

Categories: General
Published: February 2001

Now that we are in the 21st Century, we are all working in paperless offices- right? Not! (Pause here for a good laugh). Like most people running a small business, postage is a daily fact of life for Paulette and me. This used to require frequent trips to the post office to purchase a variety of stamps. Then we discovered small-business postage meters.


First, we got a meter from Pitney Bowes. While this was better than stamps, we were frustrated that the scale was not integrated in the meter; and we could not print directly on the padded envelopes that we use to ship software CD-ROMS.


We spoke to Pitney Bowes about the problem; they recommended a new meter that would accommodate our needs more effectively. After ordering and waiting for the meter to be delivered, we finally put the new meter into use. We were very excited, because we had to ship 400 copies of a new release of our software, and the new meter would make life easier. After finishing about 20 packages, the postage meter ate one of the envelopes-and never worked again.


Then along came ProMail from Neopost. This handy little unit combines a postage scale (up to 5 pounds) with a stamp printer. The unit plugs into our computer, using a serial port or USB port. We then load Simply Postage software (from Neopost)-and voila-we have a full postage-management system.


Simply Postage allows us to purchase postage on the Internet. Once our account is set up, it takes about one minute to purchase new postage for the meter. Then, all we have to do is put an item on the meter and click on the get weight button in the Simply Postage software. The software registers the item's weight-and based on the category of mail we specify, determines the correct postage. We then click on the print stamp button and the postage is printed on a label we just affix to the item-and we are done.


he Simply Postage software supports First Class, Priority Mail, Next Day Express, and International Mail. Simply Software keeps track of the rates (Neopost provides software updates when the rates change). All we have to do is tell the system to weigh the item and print the stamp. We can also tell Simply Postage to print multiple stamps in any quantity and dollar amount we need.


Another neat feature of the software is the Insta-Stamp feature. Insta-Stamp allows you to set a standard amount that can be printed just by pushing a button on the ProMail unit without needing to access the software. We simply set the Insta-Stamp for the standard first-class rate so that if we have a simple envelope we can simply print a stamp at the touch of a button.


The only disadvantage of the system is that postage is printed on labels, which must be attached to the envelope or package. This disadvantage is also a benefit, since it allows flexibility for any size or shape of envelope or package. For a small business, this is a wonderful answer to the postage-management problem.

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