Postage Meters vs. Postage on Demand

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Business Technology [ 0 Comments ]

Postage Meters vs. Postage on DemandBasics of Postage Meters and Postage On Demand

A postage meter is a physical device through which pieces of mail are routed for the application of postage. In the United States, postage meters are regulated by the US Postal Service, which oversees rules for manufacturing, support, and use of postage meters. When a piece of mail (or a label) is run through a postage meter, it is imprinted with special ink indicting an amount of postage, which functions as a stamp, cancellation, and postmark.

Postage on demand, on the other hand, is a way of using a web interface to print postage when you need it. Some postage on demand sites allow other functions, such as package tracking and address list management. Postage is printed onto labels that can be affixed to packages or directly onto envelopes. Some businesses use postage on demand to provide customers with a convenient way to print return postage.

Benefits of Postage Meters

  • They’re easy to use. Postage meters are very straightforward. Some of them are simple, affixing the same amount of postage onto a batch of envelopes. Plus, with postage meters, postage is paid for in advance, though today it is quick and easy to order more postage for the meter through a web interface.
  • They offer lots of flexibility. More sophisticated postage meters offer the ability to weigh envelopes and parcels and calculate proper postage before affixing it. Some postage meters can print onto labels as well as envelopes. For companies that, for example, send out invoices once a month, a postage meter is perfect, because a stack of invoices can be placed in the meter and run through very quickly.
  • They’re secure. A postage meter can be located where it is easily monitored, to prevent unauthorized usage. It can also be locked up at night or left in a room to which only authorized employees have access.

Drawbacks of Postage Meters

  • Older models are a bit cumbersome: Companies that send out a lot of mail with different postage requirements may find postage meters a bit more cumbersome. While more advanced models are able to weigh parcels and envelopes, older or simpler models are designed to handle letters.
  • You sometimes need tech support. When there is a problem with a postage meter, an authorized service technician must be called to fix it. Similarly, when postage rates change, the postage meter supplier must reset the meter so that it will affix the correct postage to envelopes and parcels.

Benefits of Postage On Demand

  • There’s no physical machine. Postage on demand is paid for when it is needed. Because postage is created online, there is no physical machine on your premises.
  • It allows you to track packages. Some postage on demand companies offer users the ability to manage mailing lists and track packages.
  • It’s flexible. Postage on demand is very useful for companies whose postage needs change a lot, as well as companies that need to provide customers with a convenient way to print return postage.

Drawbacks of Postage On Demand

  • Where’s the scale?You need a high-quality scale if you plan to use postage on demand for sending packages to ensure you put adequate postage on them.
  • There’s more abuse of postage on demand. Because access to postage on demand software is web-based, it is not as easy to oversee, and it may be easier for employees to misuse, for example, for personal mail.
  • It doesn’t handle large batches well. For companies that send out large batches of similar or identical mail (such as invoices), postage on demand is not usually as convenient as a postage meter.

The Verdict

Today’s businesses may rely on email, text messaging, and video conferencing, but the need for postal services never completely goes away. Many companies still rely on the US Postal Service heavily, and for these companies, buying large quantities of stamps is not a practical solution.

Postage on demand works fine for some companies, particularly those with varying and intermittent need for postage. But for companies that send out large quantities of similar or identical mail, however, good old postage meters often deliver the best service while being convenient and easy to use.

Photo Credit: Jade

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