Starting next week, USPS and Hallmark will introduce a new line of postage-paid greeting postcards.
The postcards use Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) technology, allowing customers to buy them with pre-paid postage — also referred to as “Alternative Postage Payment.”
The postcards come in packs of eight. There are two sets, each with eight unique designs. The sets will be available in 2,000 Hallmark Crown Stores across the country.
Hallmark research suggests that making First-Class Mail easier to mail encourages consumers to send more greeting cards. With pre-paid postcards, customers won’t have to buy postage — or be concerned about how much postage is needed.
Barcode sorters performing IMb scans during normal mail processing will track the number of postcards entering the mailstream to calculate Hallmark’s total postage payment.
“Alternate Postage Payment is a breakthrough product that uses technology to create convenience for consumers and revenue for USPS and its business partners,” said Steve Monteith, manager of Transactions and Correspondence Mail. “When sorters read the IMb code, the prevailing rate for First-Class Mail postage will be applied.”
Alternate Postage Payment postcards also feature three other technology elements — a legend that includes a permit number, a new facing identification mark to orient, separate and trigger an image capture of both sides of the mailpiece, and an imprint that reads, “No postage necessary if mailed in the United States.”
Monteith says employees should follow normal processing and delivery procedures for these postcards. “To ensure timely processing, employees should not obliterate barcodes or other information within the address block,” he said.
For more information about postage-paid greeting postcards, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enter “Hallmark postcards” in the subject line.