Category Archives: USPS savings

6 Tips to Avoid Overpackaging

  1. Take out a measuring tape. Measure the length, width, and thickness of the contents you want to mail.  This will help you shop for the right package that will fit your contents.
  2. Don’t buy more than you need. Using a packaging solution that is far bigger than your contents requires more filler so your content don’t shift inside and get damaged.
  3. Think about the requirements of your packaging solution. This avoids overpackaging and overspending.  Does it need to be waterproof?  Does it need to protect something fragile?  Do you need perimeter protection or top/bottom protection or both?  Is it recyclable?
  4. Who is doing the assembly, you or someone else? Will it be used in a fulfillment center environment, or will it be assembled on the boardroom table by office staff?  Consider whether pre-assembly and peel-and-stick closure is a “nice to have” or a “need to have” feature.
  5. What is your shipping method? If postal cost is a big consideration, head to your shipper’s website and review your options through the cost-savings lens of your carrier.
  6. Plan ahead.  Don’t make your packaging a last-minute decision.  That almost guarantees that you will overpackage and pay too much for the privilege.

Send me your overpackaging stories… and tell me how you overcame your addiction.

Sari McConnell at


Postmaster General Abruptly Announces Retirement

Postmaster General Jack Potter, after serving nine years in that role, announced his retirement today, effective next month.  Patrick Donahoe, current Deputy Postmaster General, will take over as the new PMG.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Patrick Donahoe several times.  While I found him genuine and approachable, I do not envy his newfound responsibility.  He is taking control of a ship in the midst of a massive storm.

During his tenure, PMG Jack Potter has seen highs and lows.  US mail volume hit its all-time high in 2006, processing 212 billion mailpieces, only to see a steep decline three years later to 177 billion units; 2010 is forecasted for 150 billion units.

There is no shortage of excuses for the rapid decline.  The Great Recession coupled with the rapid shift to electronic communications certainly top the list.  Combine mail volume decline with the congressional requirements for healthcare pre-funding, and it is no wonder that the USPS lost about $6 billion for its 2010 fiscal year.

The USPS needs to make significant changes to correct its rapidly declining business.  The Washington Post’s profile of Donahoe leads one to question whether we will in fact see that change:

“Donahoe’s career path mirrored Potter’s for much of the last three decades. They both rose through the ranks from entry-level positions to mid-level managers to occupants of the best offices at the Postal Service’s L’Enfant Plaza headquarters. They graduated from the same management training program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology… And much like Potter, Donahoe eagerly wants Congress to back off and let postal executives manage USPS in a more nimble way.”

Time will tell if Mr. Donahoe can bring about the level of change needed to correct the USPS path.  To paraphrase one high-level executive closely associated with the U.S. Post Office, this organization is the only one he can think of that has three products and 10,000 prices.

Donahoe, along with his 700,000 employees, have a formidable job ahead of them.

-Bob Makofsky at

USPS Appeals Postal Regulatory Commission’s Rejection of Price Increase

Late-breaking news learned here at the EMA annual meeting in Kansas City where the U.S. Postal Service is, is a hot topic for obvious reasons.

We told you here about how the USPS’s request to raise its prices more than the rate of inflation (“exigent rate case” a.k.a. an exception to the rule) was rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission in the most beautifully crafted rejection letter you’ll ever read.

As of a few minutes ago, I’ve learned that the USPS is appealing this ruling. They really, really, really want to raise prices — “in a beaten-down economy” — above and beyond what they are legislatively mandated to do. Despite the fact that this regulatory body, and not to mention the business community and American public, believes that the USPS should not be solving their financial problems on the backs of their customers, the USPS seems to think an appeal is an easier path to pursue than cleaning up their own house.

You can just imagine the buzz here at the EMA conference. More news here as it unfolds…

-Sari McConnell at

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Breaking News: PRC Denies USPS Exigent Rate Case

With a surprising and unanimous decision, the Postal Regulatory Commission has thrown out the USPS request to increase postal rates by 5.4%.

What does this mean for businesses dependent on the USPS?  It means no postal rate increases at all until May of next year.  I suspect there will be no changes to the DMM (Domestic Mail Manual) and that NFMs are not going away so quickly.

The Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency responsible for regulatory oversight of the USPS, painted a crystal-clear picture of why they have denied the rate hike. “…The Postal Service has made significant strides over the past few years to contain its costs in response to falling mail volumes caused by the recession and the ongoing electronic diversion of the mail. The Postal Service achieved over $6 billion in cost reductions in 2009. These results indicate that the Price Cap is working and providing the right signals for the Postal Service to reduce costs and improve efficiency.”

The briefing states that the primary cause of the liquidity crisis is directly tied to its onerous requirement for the Postal Service to pre-fund its future retiree health benefit premiums.

This dramatic update certainly brings up many additional questions.  We will see what comes in the next few days, and we’ll post answers to these questions as fast as we can get them.  Stay tuned.

-Bob Makofsky at

MTAC Conference on Vendor Innovation Within USPS

For the first time, Conformer has been invited to attend next weeks USPS Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting by Susan Plonkey, President of Mailing and Shipping Services. Susan, along with Jack Potter, USPS Postmaster General will be leading a conversation around innovation, a topic we take quite seriously.

We’re pleased to be invited to the table for these important discussions about industry innovation. Marvin Makofsky will be carrying the torch on behalf of Conformer, and if you know him, you know he will weigh in on this topic early and often.  Marv is the master innovator.

More on this topic next week.

-Bob Makofsky at

Conformer to Speak at Envelope Manufacturers Conference

The executive team here at Conformer, Marvin, Sari, and I will be participating in a presentation and panel discussion at the Envelope Manufacturers Association fall conference.  The topic of discussion is a core value of our organization — innovation.

The presentation will center on the book Blue Ocean Strategy.  The book provides a “systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and creating uncontested market spaces.”  The Blue Ocean Strategy argues that corporations can either battle in the shark infested waters of red oceans where products and services are equal and price is the primary differentiator, or we can create blue oceans where innovation opens uncontested markets.

Product innovation is not foreign to the envelope industry, but what Blue Ocean Strategy suggests is that companies need to create dramatic changes in their product line up whereby new offerings create altogether new markets, not simply improvements on existing products.  For example, two years ago we introduced the Conformer Media Mailer, a radical shift in product packaging designed to mail CDs and DVDs at dramatically lower postage rates.  Until our innovation came along, the primary packaging available to the media fulfillment industry were ubiquitous bubble mailers and small cartons.  Our Conformer Media Mailer enables low cost envelopes to compete directly with higher cost product categories. When you factor in halving the postage rate, our Conformer solution makes our “competition irrelevant”.

We are in the process of writing our presentation for the October 29 event.  We will share it with you in the coming weeks.  To learn more about the Conformer Media Mailer, click here.

by Bob Makofsky

News from Postmaster General Jack Potter

Greetings from National Postal Customer Council Day, aka National PCC DAY. I attended this event in San Francisco while my colleagues Marv and Bob heard Jack Potter speak live to the NY chapter. My live televised version of this events happened to feature a close-up of Marv so I know he was paying close attention to the speech.

In past years, the Post Office has largely focused its priorities on operational issues — the roll-out of its Flat Sorting System (FSS) for example.  Conformer products have a lovely relationship with this automated processing equipment, but even so, I was excited this time when PMG Potter’s address made a distinct shift away from operations and to squarely address customer needs.  Doing business with the post office is not as easy as it could be for our customers, to paraphrase Mr. Potter, and that’s about to change.

We’ve spent enough time talking to the folks in Washington D.C. over the years to have already picked up on this sea change in attitude towards innovators like Conformer Inc. who have been working tirelessly to keep the U.S. Postal Service’s customers happy and “in the mail.”   We’ve been praised for our expertise in the USPS’s operational and pricing changes, and for our commitment to partnering with the post office to make sure that our new products are well tested and proven on USPS processing equipment and meet all requirements.  Conformer Inc. is reaping the rewards of playing by the rules and our work is being recognized as a very good thing for the U.S. Postal Service.  A happy USPS customer is a customer that stays “in the mail.”  And we all know that the USPS needs every customer it can get.

-Conformer General Sari McConnell at

Jack Potter, Postmaster General

Jack Potter, Postmaster General