If your small or midsize business spends $50 or more on mail each month, a mailing system – and the appropriate equipment – can save you time and money. However, it’s crucial to get the right equipment for your specific needs. You’ll need to determine a budget and find trustworthy brands.
Here’s a look at how to determine if you need postage equipment, as well as device types, brands and costs.
Mailing equipment solutions include hardware devices and software platforms that help you mail large quantities of materials more efficiently and accurately. Postage meters might be the hardware category most often associated with postage equipment. Folding and addressing machines are two other types of postage hardware. Mailing software is the most common digital postage tool.
Any small business that regularly sends a substantial amount of postal mail to earn revenue will likely benefit from some amount of postage equipment. Such businesses include direct mail firms, private lenders and direct-to-consumer online stores.
Often, small businesses that use postage equipment save ample time and money because it streamlines their processes. However, some postage equipment types can be so expensive that they require massive revenue to afford.
You might need postage equipment if sending high volumes of postal mail is key to your revenue, such as if you use direct mail for your business. On the other hand, some equipment can cost more money than it saves.
There are five main categories of postage equipment. Pretty much any business that regularly uses postal mail to generate revenue will likely benefit from the first two categories. The final three may be more appropriate for only the largest operations.
A postage meter calculates the correct postage for every piece of mail based on size and weight, and prints the cost of that postage on the mail, indicating that the postage either has been or doesn’t need to be paid.
By calculating the correct postage for each item you mail, postage meters save you money you might otherwise spend on unnecessary stamps. They also reduce the administrative burden on your staff, eliminate the need to store petty cash or stamps at your office, and ensure that your mail never loses its postage in transit. Metered postage can save you between 6% and 20% compared to the cost of stamps, depending on how your mail is sorted.
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Postage meters are regulated by federal law and can be leased from an authorized supplier only rather than purchased outright. When you rent a postage meter, you sign a contract for one or two years and pay a monthly rental fee. How much you pay depends on your meter, contract terms and volume of mail you plan to send.
Price range: $20 to $1,000 per month
Many postage meters now come with software options that allow you to perform various functions, such as these:
Mailing software allows you to manage your mailing list and expenses, and many platforms integrate with various apps and mobile devices. For example, CRM integrations are available with the shipping software ShipWorks, meaning you can connect your Salesforce dashboard with your postage equipment. (Read our Salesforce review for more information.)
Your postage meter or printer may include basic software programs, while others require a monthly subscription or a one-time fee.
Price range: $0 to $100 per month
Small-scale mailing operations might benefit from free mailing software, but they should probably avoid paid options.
If you send out a large quantity of direct mail, letters or other documents that require folding, you can minimize administrative costs and cut down on the time your staff spends processing mail by investing in folding equipment.
These machines are designed to fold and process letters of various sizes automatically and can be set for several folding options, including single, letter and double parallel.
Desktop models perform simple folds but require you to insert mail into envelopes manually. Larger models fold letters and insert them into envelopes. The most comprehensive folding equipment folds mail, stuffs envelopes, prints addresses and meters postage. Many can process up to several thousand documents per hour.
Price range: $100 to $15,000
While most personal computers and printers can handle addressing and printing small volumes of mail, a business that sends a high volume of mail each month may need a specialty printer.
These printers are designed to print and address mailers of various types, from envelopes to direct mail postcards. Smaller models print labels based on your postage meter; larger printers can process as many as 15,000 addresses per hour for mail and packages of varying shapes and sizes. Specialty mail printers integrate with your mailing software and comply with barcode regulations.
Price range: $60 to $19,395
Inserting individual items into envelopes and then sealing those envelopes can be among the most tedious, time-consuming aspects of mailing. Sealing equipment alleviates this burden for your business.
Some sealing machines require manual operation, while others run automatically. Other sealing machines fall into the subcategory of pressure sealers, which can create the kind of envelope you open by folding and tearing the edges.
The tools in this category are often quite expensive, with pressure sealers especially on the pricier side.
Price range: $1,295 to $52,750
Here are some of the most popular mailing equipment brands to consider.
Max Freedman contributed to the writing and research in this article.