Royal Mail Update on barcode labels

One Stop Order ProcessingJan Strassen runs the One Stop Order Processing multichannel solution for marketplace sellers, as well as Invoice Paper and Integrated Labels who supply integrated label sheets for combined invoice and postage label printing.

Naturally Jan has been keeping a close eye on Royal Mail’s new barcode requirements and has some valuable insights to share with her customers, but which is also of interest to all retailers who print out Royal Mail labels through third party solutions:

Royal Mail address requirement changes

Lots of people have been contacted by Royal Mail regarding changes to addressing requirements in October. We are working with them to produce a solution for One Stop Order Processing and Integrated Labels. The end result should be a better integrated solution and improved postal services without too much pain.

These are the facts as we understand them

Royal mail are requesting that customers include a barcode on their address label and also any returns label from October.

The barcode is optional, customers that choose not to use it may see an increase in postage costs but only to a maximum of 5%, this will not be implemented until January 2016. Edited: We’ve had clarification from Royal Mail that this applies to their Mailmark products – there’s been no announcement as to non-barcode pricing for parcel products to date.

Salesmen are telling some people that is it mandatory when it isn’t but Royal Mail’s Despatch Manager Online users will get the barcode automatically.

The issues for Integrated Label Users

The big issue will be for integrated label customers because the smallest label that DMO produces is 6″ by 4″. We are working on a new integrated label paper format to accommodate this. The placement of the label is key as putting it in the wrong place will make the paper impractical because there won’t be room to print the invoice.

We are also working with Royal Mail to have a smaller label that will then be more suitable for use on Integrated label paper or to provide an API that will deliver a barcode that can be added to existing labels.

We think that long term this will be a bonus for many ecommerce customers but some may be better sticking with their current pick and pack systems. The key is to work out whether the potential 5% increase in costs will be cheaper than redesigning and deploying new more complex methods. Royal Mail need to stay competitive and so may choose not to apply the surcharge if many customers choose not to move.

A watching brief

If I used Royal mail as my courier and wasn’t keen to change how things worked I would watch and wait for a while to see what actually happens. Royal Mail haven’t finalised the changes yet, they still have a consultation meeting planned for September, so really we don’t know exactly what the changes will be.