Streamline Group, LLC

Only source in East Tennessee & Western North Carolina for full spectrum of internal equipment, software & web-based solutions for both physical & electronic mailing, shipping, receiving, e-billing, document automation

10 eBill Presentment & eStatement predictions for 2011

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 | Customer Applications, Industry News, Launchpad-New Products & Services | No Comments

 

 Written by Garin Toren   on Wednesday, 05 January 2011  

Despite all the activity and market hype surrounding eBilling and eStatements for the past 7 years and in particular in 2010; we believe that 2011 will not herald anything really significant. Unfortunately we expect it to be a “more of the same” year.

Here’s how we see it playing out:

1. Billers will yet again fail to suppress any meaningful percentage of paper bills: Over the past 3 years, billers in North America have managed to turn off an average of 2% to 3% of their total paper bills per year. This year will be exactly the same with the exception of those billers that have been driving paper suppression for 5 years or more, and are now approaching 15% paper suppressed, they will see a diminishing increase as they move beyond the innovator and early- adopter segments of their customer bases.

2. Banks will fail to turn off more than a few percent of paper statements:
Unless banks come up with a way to electronically deliver statements; paper turn off rates will disappoint yet again in 2011. Read this previous blog I wrote on why 82.639% of internet bankers will not turn off paper statements.

3. Biller electronic payment will continue to migrate to internet banking:
The trend of electronic bill pay migrating away from Biller Direct websites to internet banking bill pay will continue. The migration will not only continue here in the USA but will gather momentum somewhat in 2011 in other first world countries.

4. Banks will fail in their attempts to gain critical mass in ‘presenting’ bills within internet banking: The math doesn’t add up and billers don’t want it. For the same reasons why other consolidators of bill presentment will always fail, so too will banks that try to do the same thing. Which leads me to my next prediction…

5. eBilling Consolidators will fail to gain significant traction: I recently wrote a blog on why eBill consolidators will always fail. This coming year will be no exception.

6. We will see the first negative paper suppression incentives and a subsequent consumer push-back:
As has been tried many times internationally, charging people for a paper statement / bill not only has immediate, vocal, churn inducing and dramatic customer push-back, it also has only minimal paper suppression success. Nonetheless we’ll see some major billers go down this ill-advised path over the next 12 months.

7. Positive incentives for paper suppression will continue to have disappointing results:
It has been proven time and time again that if your only paper statement / bill alternative is to view and download an electronic version from a website, then incentives will have little to no appeal to the mass consumer market.

8. New ‘push’ players will emerge in the US market: Being the only game in town is no fun. After hearing about it for ages, we really do expect one or even two new “push” players to launch in the US market. We are also hoping that the handful of billers who have told us repeatedly that they are developing push eBilling themselves will actually go ahead and go live this year.

9. Billers and financial institutions that rolled out email document delivery and email billing programs will enjoy another 12% paper suppression increase: Both the US and Canada will see the public launch of top tier consumer brands deploying a ‘push’ strategy.

10. Email will continue to clean up its act: Email has seen dramatic improvements these past 24 months with regards to inbox functionality, auto-organizing, spam control and deliverability. We expect this trend to continue and strengthen in 2011.

In conclusion

Perhaps the only noticeable occurrence in 2011 will be the lack of traction of the two new biller consolidators in the US market. We can therefore expect 2011 to be a foundation, building year for 2012 with consolidation amongst vendors, mobile strategies gaining some penetration and yet another 10% of ‘me-too’ billers building and launching self serve portals in the vain hopes of suppressing paper and postage.

And finally, Striata US grew by 40% in 2010 and we aim to exceed this considerably in 2011 with at least 40 new bank and biller clients.

Do we have it covered? What are your predictions for eBilling in 2011?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjQdlFAZtP8 

Take your mailroom to the next level with the Connect+™ 3000

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 | Customer Applications, Important Customer Updates, Industry News, Launchpad-New Products & Services, Operational Tips | No Comments

 

Take your mailroom to the next level with the Connect+™ 3000 both in productivity and capability. It prints mail permits and indicia faster than any machine currently available, but its transformative printing capabilities don’t end there. The Connect+™ 3000 can produce custom envelopes with transpromotional marketing messages on demand. This makes every envelope an opportunity to generate revenue. Plus, it’s easy to use and maintain with an intuitive color touch-screen display, application based navigation and Web connectivity.

Advanced Printing

  • 1,200-dpi HP powered ink-jet printing in process color or black and postal-compliant red fluorescent
  • 7/8″ printing path across full length of the envelope, top and bottom, front or back
  • Generate revenue by printing marketing messages on transactional envelopes
  • Cost effective printing – especially for small print runs

Web Connectivity

  • Download applications directly to the machine
  • Get the most current domestic and international rates
  • Access to package tracking for all major carriers

Easy-to-Use

  • Intuitive color touch-screen interface
  • Built-in on-screen tutorials
  • Programmable Job presets

Learn More Now

More Connect + Videos

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Connect+ Digital Mailing Systems http://www.sgllc.net/products/mailing-systems/

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 | Customer Applications, Important Customer Updates, Industry News, Launchpad-New Products & Services, Operational Tips | 1 Comment

®NASHVILLE, Tenn., 2010 – Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) launched a new series of customer communications solutions in the U.S. to help organizations deliver more powerful and profitable messages. Among many other new features, the Connect+™ Customer Communications Series enables mailers to print high-resolution graphics and messages in color or black on the outside of the envelope. The print technology was developed as a strategic collaboration with HP & is also available through your local Secap® dealer.

See Connect Plus Digital Mailing Systems now at  http://www.sgllc.net/products/mailing-systems/

The Connect+ Series is the first mailing systems series with a Web- and application-based software architecture and features an intuitive color touch-screen display with graphic icons that provides instant online access to numerous mailing, printing and reporting applications. Customers can access their accounts online to order supplies, download graphics, place service calls, visit USPS Web sites, track parcels and access exclusive Pitney Bowes® presort services.

High-resolution HP inkjet technology with 1,200 dpi allows promotional messages to be printed across the top of envelopes with text, logos or photographs in color or black, while applying postage all in one pass. Messages may range from simple text to limited-time specials or complex color graphics to help build and reinforce an organization’s brand, increase read-rates and drive customer response. With the Connect+ Series, users can also print messages and images along the bottom and back edge of the envelope with multiple passes. Marketers can instantly design messages and import graphics or select images from Pitney Bowes’s extensive library to print on the outside of envelopes, and the Connect+ Series enables direct control of the entire messaging process from an individual’s desktop.

Recent independent market research commissioned by Pitney Bowes shows that 69 percent of consumers indicated they would be more likely to open a mail piece with color text and graphics first compared to a plain white envelope without messaging. What this suggests is printing color promotional messages on the outside of envelopes can help marketers connect with more customers.

“In today’s economic environment, organizations are looking for new ways to retain, acquire and grow the value for their customers,” said Leslie Abi-Karam, Pitney Bowes Executive Vice President and President, Mailstream Solutions Management. “With the Connect+ Series, organizations can now build customer relationships and grow their businesses by turning all of their physical communications into new opportunities to help increase revenue.”

The Connect+ Series includes three product platforms for mid- and high-volume mailers. For mid-volume mailers, the Connect+1000 and Connect+2000 systems can print up to 180 letters per minute and features a 10.2” color touch-screen display. The Connect+2000 system also offers Pitney Bowes Weigh-on-the-Way® technology, which automatically weighs and dimensions mail pieces for additional productivity.

For high-volume mailers, the Connect+3000 system can produce up to 300 letters per minute and includes a standard 10.2” color touch-screen display. The Connect+3000 is also available with Weigh-on-the-Way technology and additional options to customize the solution, including a high-resolution, 15” color touch-screen display.

The Connect+ Series is available for order immediately. Systems with black printing will ship immediately. Color systems are scheduled to ship during the third quarter of this year. Color printing upgrades, which are easily added to existing systems, can also be ordered immediately

What the new era of “Smart” inboxes means for email delivery

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 | Industry News, Launchpad-New Products & Services, Operational Tips | No Comments

What the new era of “Smart” inboxes means for email delivery

 
 
 Written by Haydn James   on Wednesday, 13 October 2010  

As eMarketers and eBillers, we are constantly fighting the battle of getting every email to its destination through clever, practical design and delivery methodologies. We’ve had to overcome many barriers – strict spam filters, a myriad of different email software and web browsers and not to mention design and copy layout challenges to achieve maximum open rates. If that wasn’t hard enough, we are now faced with another hurdle to overcome:

Inboxes that are automatically able to distinguish between important email and email that should safely be ignored. Introducing the “Smart” inbox.

“Smart” inbox – sounds so sophisticated but so what?

Inboxes are becoming more and more intelligent thanks to new features that allow users to automatically sort and manage incoming mail more effectively. The “Smart” inbox uses a range of variables and filters from sender recognition to user interaction to determine what email is deemed important and what email can be discarded or filed into an “unimportant” folder somewhere or even worse, deleted!
Take for example Google Mail, who just recently launched their Priority Inbox feature.

The Priority Inbox is segmented into the 3 clear categories of mail:

  • Important and Unread – The heading says it all. This is where you want your marketing messages to be delivered automatically, and where you could expect far greater open and click through rates.
  • Starred – This section is marked as important and requires follow up. You can reasonably expect that emails will be opened from this section as they have been marked by the user for follow up.
  • Everything Else – This really means, “unimportant and I’ll get to it whenever I can email”. Not the kind of place you want your marketing communications to end up. Chances are it is less likely that these will be read.

Using a smart algorithm, Gmail Priority Inbox analyses information, such as the addresses that you mail the most and your email usage behaviours – what emails you click on and which ones you discard without reading.

Also, when the user marks messages important or unimportant, the algorithm adapts itself as it learns and understands what type of mail they deem as important and what is generally not. Plus future messages will be treated in the same way, without the user having to do anything.

What does this mean for you?

The “Smart” inbox has major implications for marketers and companies wanting to communicate with their bases. Gone are the days where we can assume that emails are generally going to appear in an inbox sorted by date received. Now more than ever we should be applying best practice to email design and delivery.

On the plus side, the rewards for delivering wanted, relevant messages are that your emails get priority positioning in an uncluttered inbox.

Conversely, the penalties for getting it wrong result in poor inbox positioning or worse, it may never reach the inbox at all.

What then should you do to ensure priority positioning?

Here are a number of things you should be doing:

  • Segment and profile your base so you can tailor your communications to be more relevant to your customer. The more relevant the communications, the greater the chance of it being opened and/or marked as important
  • Send effective welcome messages – there is no better time to tell your customers to add your sender address to their contacts list and describe what communications they can expect from you. Also, use it as an opportunity to educate them on the importance of marking messages as important or “starring” them for later reading
  • Review the design and copy of your communications ensuring you have included strong subject lines and pre-headers. Also ensure you find a good balance between text and images so your email can be scanned quickly in the preview pane when images have not been downloaded yet.
  • Drive meaningful interaction with your customers by ensuring you have strong, visible and readable calls to action. Include social media sharing capabilities and where possible include features such as call-me-back’s and polls
  • Introduce a lifecycle communication programme – Where you have a number of critical triggered transactional messages and important scheduled communications such as electronic statements, all sent from the same address. Due to their nature these messages will most likely be opened or marked as important by the user. So your marketing communications sent from the same address will be recognised as relevant and important too.

While “Smart” Inboxes are relatively new and may represent a small percentage of your database, the point is, the email landscape is changing. You should be changing your thinking too.

(P.S. – We used Gmail as an example to highlight “Smart” inbox concept – the other email service providers do have similar features built in as well, so this concept is not unique to Gmail. Where smaller service providers may not have this feature now you can reasonably expect that they will follow.)

http://www.striata.com/resources/insight-newsletter/the-future-of-ebilling-what-are-the-trends.html

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 | Customer Applications, Industry News, Operational Tips | No Comments

The future of eBilling – what are the trends?

1. Online portal paper suppression rates will continue to disappoint;

15% of any average consumer base is usually ‘technologists’ who are happy to embrace a technology like eBilling. The remaining 85% are generally concerned about the cumbersome registration process associated with online billing, and then once logged in find it fairly confusing to navigate and retrieve their bill.

2. Billers will begin charging for paper bills or full detailed bills, however this will have little lasting impact on paperless adoption rates;

We have seen a number of billers trying to charge for paper bills, the most recent example being ‘T-Mobile’ in North America. This usually results in a consumer backlash – consumers are not willing to pay for an item that they believe should be provided to them anyway. The result: although this strategy may impact paperless adoption rates, it is fraught with danger.

3. Detailed online bill analysis will not improve paperless adoption;

Many organizations have enabled detailed online bill analysis, but haven’t yet addressed the 85% of consumers who have refused to register for the service in the first place, so a solution like this will impress technologists, but not the remainder of the base.

4. Integration with personal financial management tools will do little to assist with paperless adoption;

Personal financial management tools are elements that will again only attract technologists who are willing to register for a paperless solution. So the inclusion of tools like this still doesn’t address the 85% of people who are reluctant to sign up for paperless billing.

5. Internet Banking will continue to be the most common method of eBill Payment;

Internet banking is a very convenient way to pay, however it still requires additional logging on and navigating within the security requirements of an online portal. Consumers are looking for easy, simple ways to pay their bills without having to log into a separate environment.

6. ‘Pushed’ email bills (delivered to the inbox) will continue to grow in popularity among consumers;

In every country that we operate, we continue to receive rave reviews from consumers because our solution allows them to receive their bills without having to collect them anywhere. It is delivered directly into their inbox, and it allows them to facilitate payment directly from within the bill, without having to visit a separate payment portal.

7. Home-grown ‘Push’ eBilling solutions will disappoint because of the requirement to pre-register online;

We’ve seen a number of billers try to implement their own electronic ‘push’ solution. However, it usually fails because there is still a registration requirement and consumers are looking for a service that is provided to them automatically without the need for a complicated system generated username and password process.

8. The EU proposals for electronic invoicing methods will continue to frustrate, confuse and slow down the adoption of eInvoicing in Europe. This will not affect electronic invoicing adoption in the US.

If you are in the EU, you may be familiar with the discussions that have been ongoing for the past 3 / 4 years regarding electronic invoicing across Europe.

On 26 March 2010, the 27 EU Nation States reached an agreement that the solution proposed by these EU Ministers doesn’t effectively allow the rapid introduction of eInvoicing. We predict that these conversations will continue for another 2 years, so why wait for the bureaucrats? Instead, implement something that makes business sense.

Conclusion: The solution to an effective paperless billing strategy is to remove all registration requirements.

  • As long as you have the consumers email address, you can provide an electronic bill.
  • Make sure that the bill is delivered directly to the inbox.
  • Ensure that they don’t have to jump through any hoops to receive their bill.
  • Make payment as simple as possible by including capability to settle the bill within the eBill itself.
  • Any marketing included in the eBill must be personalized in order to drive more targeted traffic back to your website. Enabling cross sell and up sell opportunities.

Mailing Industry Careers in TN & NC!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | Career Opportunities, Industry News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Streamline Group is actively seeking talented & experienced sales personnel for the Nashville, Chattanooga & Knoxville markets in Tennessee & in the Charlotte, Asheville, Greensboro & Winston-Salem markets in North Carolina. Both sales & sales management opportunities are available. We are specifically seeking individuals with experience selling mailing systems or postage metering devices. Feel free to apply online at http://www.sgllc.net/about/careers/account-manager/ .

Press Release – Streamline takes 1st Place in New Business Competition

Thursday, May 27th, 2010 | Uncategorized | No Comments

 ***Press Release from The Development Corporation of Knox County (TDC)***

http://www.knoxdevelopment.org/PDFs/Press%20Release%20from%20TDC%20-%20May%202010%20-%20Competition%20winners.pdf 

Business Plan Competition Winners Announced 

TDC’s second annual, Start-up Business Plan Competition concluded on May 11 with presentations on a range of business ideas. Judges from the world of entrepreneurial development, small businesses, and venture capital evaluated the applicants on commercial potential, innovation, feasibility, and on their ability to pitch their business plans at a public forum.  

First Place 

Streamline Group 

First and only business source for electronic mailing with integrated billing and direct pay solutions and services 

First Runner-Up 

Boulder Booties 

Product to protect the specialized climbing shoes worn while rock climbing 

Second Runner-Up 

Knoxville Robots 

Retail, training, and public meeting facility for robot enthusiasts, engineers, inventors, and educators 

First and second place winners will receive business development packages including complimentary business consulting services from local providers, cash for start-up costs, and free rent during their start-up at Fairview Technology Center – the TDC managed business innovation center. 

For more information on the competition, please visit 

www.knoxdevelopment.org or contact Todd Napier, Executive Vice President The Development Corporation of Knox County at 865-546-5887.  

Streamline Group wins local competition

Friday, May 14th, 2010 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Harrington: Startup winners announced

Carly Harrington
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Eric Bernstein provides businesses with mailing, shipping and receiving solutions through his new company, Streamline Group LLC.

But as a re-seller of a new electronic billing technology, the 38-year-old also is able to help customers eventually “turn off the paper.”

“We are able to satisfy a client’s electronic and physical needs,” Bernstein said.

Streamline (www.SGLLC.net) was selected this week as the winner of the second annual Start-up Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Fairview Technology Center, a small business incubator owned by Knox County and managed by The Development Corporation of Knox County and Technology 2020.

It took top honors for its market potential and comprehensive business plan.

E-billing can be cost effective as the average company spends $1.21 per bill for ink, postage, paper, equipment and other processing costs.

Bernstein said he can do it for 10 to 20 cents per bill.

“If you’ve got a half million bills going out the door every month, that’s a pretty big cost savings,” he said.

Streamline Group also helps companies get paid on average 11 days faster and allows them to track consumer behavior for targeted marketing.

Bernstein said he plans to launch a major campaign “to let the market know my company exists.”

Intelligent Mail Services & the USPS

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 | Operational Tips | No Comments

Intelligent Mail

Intelligent Mail is the technology platform for the next generation of mailing services, features and products. Mailers and the Postal Service™ will gain end-to-end visibility into the mailstream through the use of the suite of Intelligent Mail barcodes and by submitting electronic documentation, which will create actionable information about mail for marketing, financial and operational environments.

Steps to Getting Started
To get started with Intelligent Mail here are a few basic steps to get you on your way:

Talk with your local BMEU or MDA to receive guidance on how to best meet your mailing needs with the Intelligent Mail options the Postal Service has provided.

Apply for a Mailer ID (MID), which you will use to identify your mailpieces and mail aggregates.

Register for Business Customer Gateway access, which you will use to submit electronic documentation.

Learn about the suite of Intelligent Mail barcodes: Intelligent Mail barcode for letters, cards and flats, Intelligent Mail Tray barcode, Intelligent Mail Container barcode and Intelligent Mail Package barcode.

Determine which OneCode Services you would like to use.

Access guides and specifications for Intelligent Mail.

Review presentations about Intelligent Mail.

Each of the aforementioned steps are explained at the following link: http://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_guides/documents/tech_guides/BeginnersOverview.pdf

Direct Mail Marketing – Is it a good fit for my business?

Monday, April 26th, 2010 | Uncategorized | No Comments

Anyone who’s used Direct Mail can tell you that it’s a powerful way to deliver a message right to your customers’ doors—and bring more business through your own. The U.S. Postal Service has made it easier than ever to build your business with Direct Mail. Start here and learn smart and imaginative ways to plan a Direct Mail advertising campaign, plus discover useful tips and helpful resources to make your Direct Mail produce strong results.

Start out by discovering exactly how powerful Direct Mail can be in growing your customer base.

Learn how to plan your first Direct Mail campaign—from budgeting to making an appealing offer.

Find out how to build and maintain an effective mailing list.

Learn how easy-to-use software can help you design and print a professional-looking mailpiece.

Get advice on the most budget-efficient ways to deliver your message.

Allow Streamline Group to provide free consultative guidance to get you started or just to see if it’s a fit. Of course we’re hoping you’ll invite us to help build your solution but there’s absolutely no obligation to do so. Thank you in advance!

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