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Mailers Mixed on November USPS QR Code Promo

By Jul 12, 2012

Mailers are pleased the U.S. Postal Service is going to expand its promotional discount program for pieces using QR codes to the holiday season. But most aren’t overwhelmed at the prospect of an extra discount for using priority mail.

The USPS is offering mailers a 2% discount on standard and first class letters, flats (catalogs) and cards displaying mobile QR codes sent out between Nov. 7 and 21. It also plans an extra 1% discount if more than 0.5% of their orders are fulfilled through priority mail between Nov 9 and Dec. 31.

The postal service has run postage rate sales since 2009, partly to promote use of the mail during the traditionally slower summer months.The USPS began allowing mailers to include two-dimensional barcodes in their mailings in its summer postage sale last year. For the November promotion, the USPS is requiring that the QR codes direct users to a website optimized for mobile devices. 

“We plan to use the discount but not the not the priority mail option,” says Larry Davis, vice president of marketing at jewelry cataloger Ross-Simons, noting that the cost of shipping via priority mail is too high to make that discount worthwhile. The Cranston, RI-based company mails out 2.5 million catalogs in the fall, and about 20 million catalogs per year. 

Similarly, crafts and scrapbooking supplies cataloger Paper Wishes likes the discount but isn’t too keen on the priority mail aspect of this   promotion either. The firm plans to continue shipping via more conventional USPS services and United Parcel Service. “We need to ship in the most efficient and economical way,” says president Paulette Jarvey. 

She also expressed dislike for the postal service’s proposed new mobile-optimized website requirement. “I wish they hadn’t put restrictions on what they had done before,” she says, noting that in previous promotions, it was acceptable just to have the QR code prominently displayed on mailing pieces.  “But now it has to be tied to a mobile site,” she says. 

Paper Wishes, which has a housefile of nearly 200,000 customers, sends over 1.2 million catalogs annually, mailing 400,000 drops to prospects and customers in January, April and September. The Canby, OR company took part in last summer’s USPS QR code promotion, and plans to have a version of its site optimized for mobile devices ready by August. 

Jarvis was unsure if QR codes helped raise response rates in that promotion but noted that in the past year, the number of orders the catalog gets through mobile increased from about 4% to 10%. 

Another company looking to participate in the November promotion is religious goods cataloger St. Benedict Press. 

We expect the promotion will [lead us to] increase the size of our Christmas mailings,” says vice president Conor Gallagher. 

The Charlotte, NC firm has two mailings planned for November, a 50,000 catalog drop primarily to existing book customers and a magalog to 100,000 prospects for its new Catholic Courses catalog which offers audio and video courses.