Starting a Mail Service

Goals

To provide a step-by-step guide to starting a mail services business, including office space, software to cover the back end of business, postal regulations, language used to describe and advertise services, and any pitfalls. A suggested research strategy is to look at companies already offering this service.

Early Findings

Regulations

  • In the US, any person using a private mail forwarding service must complete a USPS Form 1583. At face value, the completion of the form appears to be mandatory. However, when reviewing several companies of this nature, it was noted many do not make customers complete this form.
  • Any company that is forwarding physical mail for customers is subject to USPS regulations relating to items that are restricted or prohibited from being sent by mail. A list of these items is available here.
  • If the company is sending mail internationally, it will be required to adhere to the customs and immigration regulations of the country to which the mail is being sent. They will also be required to adhere to US Homeland Security regulations regarding what can be sent from the US.
  • The company would also be subject to the relevant federal and state laws relating to data protection and privacy. California led the way in the US, enacting the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). The act sets out what is required of companies doing business with Californian residents. It is one of the broadest pieces of legislation relating to online privacy in the US. Since it was enacted, other states have followed California´s lead.

Software

  • Postscan Mail (Certifix) provides the software needed to run a virtual mailbox service. It can be used to scan and upload mail, packages, magazines and postcards to the cloud. "Postscan Mail does not require an upfront capital investment. They offer simple flat-rate pricing, training and automated mailbox renter billing. "
  • Stamps.com provides software companies "looking to print USPS postage stamps and shipping labels directly from their computer."
  • SendPro (Pitney Bowes) provides software that can be used as a shipping and mail room management solution.

Summary

  • In our first hour of research, we have located some of the relevant regulations that a mail services company would have to adhere to in the US and internationally. We have also identified some software products that are used to carry out mail forwarding, back-office, and virtual mailbox services.
  • There are a number of companies online that could be used as case studies of mail service companies. The information required from each of them is almost always precompiled and relatively accessible.

Proposed next steps:

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