Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing

U.S. Postal Service Extends Personalized Postage to Business

the U.S. Postal Service’s popular customized postage program has been extended to business customers.  Customized postage allows a customer to personalize postage with pictures or images using Customized PC Postage technology.

This is the third phase of the market test for customized postage. It will run through May 16, 2007 with an option for the Postal Service to extend the test for a second year. The third test removes the restrictions around commercial images that were in place for the second market test.

The first two phases of the test, which began in 2004, allowed the Postal Service and qualified vendors to determine the viability of the product and to gauge the interest of consumers in creating their own personalized postage.

The USPS has signed contracts with three qualified PC Postage vendors: Endicia, Zazzle and will add the commercial application to their existing agreements for the production of postage for personal use.

Customized postage has two parts: a customer-supplied image and a state-of-the-art secure bar code. All customized postage is compatible with the Postal Service’s automated mail processing systems.  Like postage meters, PC Postage facilitates customer access to postage payment and use of the mail.

A quote from said Nick Barranca, Vice President, Product Development:  “We want to make sure that anyone we authorize has the ability to produce postage in an efficient way. While we continue to strive to meet the needs of our customers, we want to make sure that any product also meets our standards for quality and security.”

The Postal Service will require vendors to produce a product that meets current postal
regulations and conclusively prove that all images produced and services provided abide by all federal laws, including copyright laws.

Authorized vendors will determine pricing and are expected to price their products based on the value provided to the consumer.  The Postal Service’s role is to authorize and monitor qualified providers.

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