Print and Mail Outsourcing

Print and Mail Outsourcing service

Print and mail outsourcing involves enlisting a third party to handle the printing and distribution of documents. It falls within the realm of document process outsourcing, which entails delegating document-intensive processes to external service providers. More specifically, print and mail outsourcing primarily focuses on outsourced printing, scanning, and mailroom services rather than outsourcing an entire process. However, in many instances, organizations opt to outsource the entire document process, encompassing activities such as design, scanning and capture, printing, reproduction, quality control, archiving, and mailroom services.

Outsourced Print and Mail Services

Print and mail outsourcing services can be divided into two categories: operational and promotional or marketing communications. Operational print and mail services support an organization’s internal activities and involve materials such as stationery, manuals, memos, and other company documents. On the other hand, promotional print and mail services are geared towards supporting the organization’s marketing communications campaigns and include materials like leaflets, posters, banners, packaging, brochures, direct mail, and other sales collaterals.

Companies that choose to outsource print and mail activities may require discrete services or comprehensive end-to-end support for document printing and distribution. End-to-end services encompass every aspect of the print and mail process, from concept development and design to customization, printing, document reproduction, distribution, storage, and post-production services such as return mail management and warehousing.

The demand for print and mail outsourcing continues to rise as companies integrate print and electronic communications, seeking solutions to enhance workflows, automate processes, reduce paper usage, and control costs. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) responsible for driving growth are realizing the importance of running in-house marketing campaigns with operational efficiency. As a result, they are turning to external experts who can effectively convert incremental investments into sales and enhance corporate brand value.

One of the significant advantages of outsourced print and mail services is cost reduction. Print and mail outsourcing provides a cost-effective approach for companies to optimize their document printing and distribution budgets. Particularly, entrusting an external expert with the printing and mailing of marketing communications can result in a reduction of the printing budget by 30 percent or more while driving revenue growth.

Print and Mail Outsourcing Growth Drivers

Since the introduction of the modern printing press, third-party providers have been offering traditional print and mail services to organizations. Technological advancements like Xerox’s copy machine, CMYK printing, and laser printers have further expanded the capabilities of printing and document processing companies.

In the early 1990’s, outsourcing of print and mail services gained popularity among financial services companies, coinciding with the outsourcing of technology services by IT companies, both locally and offshore. Given the substantial volume of paperwork, printing, and document distribution activities in banks and financial institutions, many firms sought partnerships with service providers who could handle these tasks more efficiently, quickly, and cost-effectively.

Over the past decade, the outsourcing of print and mailroom services has experienced exponential growth as businesses turned to third parties to reduce costs, enhance productivity, and achieve eco-sustainability. Initially, the focus of print and mail outsourcing engagements was primarily on cost reduction and productivity improvement. In North America and Europe, businesses followed the prevailing trend of transitioning from local to offshore outsourcing to further drive down expenses. Many service providers claim to save clients up to 30 percent through comprehensive end-to-end services. However, organizations continue to face pressure to save even more while simultaneously increasing process efficiency and fostering innovation.

Today, print and mail service providers, their clients, and outsourcing engagements have matured through experience. The second and third generations of print and mail outsourcing engagements are characterized by increasingly demanding clients who seek added value and business transformation, while vendors have new opportunities to expand the scope of their services and cater to businesses of all types and sizes.

For instance, enterprise print and mail services have evolved into comprehensive document processing and the outsourcing of higher-value activities, with the goal of enhancing overall business performance. The objective of next-generation print and mail outsourcing is to deliver business transformation through process improvement and innovation, transforming vendors from mere suppliers into strategic business partners.

Basic Flow of Offshore Outsourced Print and Mail

Print and mail outsourcing processes may vary among service providers, but there are common steps involved in both operational and promotional print and mail workflows. These steps typically encompass acquiring the client’s documents and files and conclude with logistics, which involves delivering the printed material to the customer or end-user.

#1. Data Transfer

The client submits the documents and files to the service provider for printing and distribution. Paper documents can be sent via courier, while digital files are transmitted electronically through methods like email, Dropbox, FTP (file transfer protocol), or other electronic data interchange methods.

#2. Data Processing

The next step involves extracting information from the submitted documents. For paper documents, they are typically converted into a digital format through scanning or image capture for backup, storage, and easier reproduction. If the documents are already digitized, the vendor extracts key information and prepares the data for printing, automation, reproduction, and distribution.

#3. Document Formatting

Document formatting entails transforming the data into a print-ready document. The provider follows general design and composition rules, as well as any specifications set by the client, to create the desired design format. Automation codes and special print notations may also be incorporated into the documents for machine insertion.

#4. Variable Printing

The print-ready file is then sent to the printing department. Document specialists, graphic designers, and copywriters collaborate to customize each document to reflect the client’s brand and drive customer engagement based on marketing and promotions research. Personalized promotional direct mail, tailored to the target demographic with custom wording, font color, paper color, and imagery, is more effective than generic sales collateral. Once the client approves the proofs, the mailers are printed.

#5. Envelope Insertion

The process of inserting documents into envelopes can be automated, semi-automated, or manual, even for high-volume orders. Each document is folded or assembled according to specifications. Envelope documents are either fed into a machine that automates the insertion of printed mailers into various envelope sizes and folds or manually folded and inserted into envelopes.

#6. Mailing and Distribution

After preparing the envelopes, they are packed, addressed, and shipped. Service providers have established partnerships with major carriers to facilitate the delivery of mailers to end users locally and internationally. In the United States, providers often integrate their systems with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to streamline processes and reduce mailing fees. Service providers ensure proper postage and adherence to courier guidelines. Barcoding machines can automatically update addresses if customers have moved or submitted a change of address through USPS.

#7. Return Mail Management

 Many providers offer post-printing and mailing services for return mail management. They process and analyze undelivered mail, providing detailed reports to clients. Return mail management helps reduce the number of returned documents and can contribute to cost-reduction initiatives by offering valuable data and analysis for future campaigns.

#8. Fulfillment

Some providers go beyond print and mail services and also offer stock management and warehousing services, both short-term and long-term. Materials are stored in controlled and secure environments, and the provider notifies the client when supplies need replenishing. High-value items are stored in secure warehouses accessible only to authorized clients and staff.

To learn more about outsourcing, you can read our Top 8 Qualities of an Outsourcing Company in the Philippines article. We invite you to follow us on social media and to visit our website to learn more about our services.

About Us: Sourcefit is a widely recognized US-managed business process outsourcing company based in Manila, Philippines. We proudly serve over 100 clients with a workforce of more than 1,300 employees. Our global centers can serve multiple markets, and our staff is highly proficient in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Whether you need a few or many employees, we can help you achieve your business goals and build high-quality offshore teams.

Latest Awards

Sourcefit’s commitment to excellence has been recognized through numerous industry awards and certifications.

We recently received the Fortress Cyber Security Award from the Business Intelligence Group. Sourcefit was also honored with the prestigious recognition of Best Outsourcing Solutions Provider in the Philippines during the 2023 Business Excellence Awards.

Other awards include: FT ranking of 500 high-growth Asia-Pacific, The Marketing Excellence Awards, Inquirer Growth ChampionHR Asia Awards, among others.

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