The IMB is a multi-service barcode that uses a four-state technology — as opposed to the two-state technology used in POSTNET™ and PLANET® barcodes — and combines the capabilities of POSTNET™ and PLANET® barcodes into one unique barcode.

This unique barcode is composed of trackers, ascenders, descenders and full bars — more commonly known as TADFs. These TADFs represent the data in the barcode. Since more data can be encoded with four-states instead of two, the Intelligent Mail® Barcode is able to contain more information per given footprint.

The IMB’s multi-service barcode offers mailers new services
and improved communications, including:

Delivery point information
Tracking via USPS Confirm® service
Move/Undeliverable–as–Addressed (UAA) information via the Address Change Service (ACS™)

Improved Readability

The Intelligent Mail® Barcode promises improved readability — particularly under adverse conditions — through the use of advanced error correction: Portions of the barcode can be obscured, with all information recovered during the read.

Since the IMB replaces PLANET® used for tracking and tricky–to–read keylines used for ACS, all mailing services will see improvement in readability.

Return Mail Reduction

The USPS is offering fee-free use of the ACS service with the IMB, providing mailers a cost-effective opportunity to augment their pre-mailing address quality processes such as CASS™ and NCOA.

Mailers will have two chances to update their records by receiving two free electronic ACS notices. These notices contain customer move information and are sent back to mailers when mail pieces are undeliverable due to moves or NIXIE information (undeliverable addresses).

Mailers must then act on this information by updating their records through appropriate business responses.

Visual Impact

The IMB not only simplifies the look of mail pieces, but it frees up valuable real estate in the address block area. Additionally, the IMB provides an opportunity to standardize the address block footprint across your enterprise without having to worry about the ins and outs of various barcodes.

Delivery Visibility

To track inbound and outbound mail pieces, mailers can take advantage of the USPS Confirm service via IMB, which ensures mail pieces remain uniquely trackable through the IMB’s ID capacity.

Many expect that the Intelligent Mail® Barcode will significantly increase adoption of track and trace services, including:

Geographic delivery prediction (outbound)
Mail arrival prediction (outbound)
Cash flow prediction (inbound)
Disconnect/termination process avoidance (inbound)

Preparation Efficiency

The USPS offers seamless acceptance for the induction of mailers’ prepared (presorted) mail. Whether preparing their own mail or using presort houses, mailers will benefit from reduced paperwork and greater visibility and transparency with the USPS.