Co-palletizing and co-mailing have been touted as two of the top ways to decrease distribution costs while simultaneously appeasing the USPS, which is pushing for greater distribution efficiencies even as its rate hikes take effect this month. In other words, sacks are bad, skids are good. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to get up and running quickly.

What’s the Difference?
Both co-mailing and co-palleting offer the publisher a savings potential. But co-mailing is the more exact sortation of the two. The printer essentially examines a publisher’s mail.dat file to determine other publications it will mingle with on the same pallet, or skid. Individual pieces of mail are bundled. "Co-mail merges everyone’s list and co-mingles multiple titles in the same mail list," says Tom Fogarty, vice president of production for Ascend Media. "It creates the finest sortation possible out of the number of publications that are going to be in that actual pool."

Co-mailing does have limitations. Some titles are too heavy for the co-mail machines to take advantage of co-mailing. "A co-mail machine looks like a big selective perfect binder but instead of pulling an individual signature, it pulls out a completely bound magazine," says Fogarty.

Co-palleting bundles a number of copies of a single title and arranges that bundle on the pallet with other bundles all going to a common zip code. "Co-palletization is just taking six copies of, for example, Beverage Industry in the 606 zip code and hitting that particular skid," says Fogarty. "But my Beverage Industry magazines are all in the same bundle. Everybody’s magazine is on the same skid for a drop ship toward a more local entry."

Fogarty notes that Ascend achieves a greater return on co-mailing versus co-palleting, but anything that he can’t co-mail, he co-palletizes. Quebecor World notes that co-palleting can save 0.7 cents to 1.5 cents per piece, while co-mailing can realize savings of up to 16.2 cents per piece.

And Fogarty says there are no minimum requirements. "There should be no minimums based upon if you’re a 5,000-circulation or a 180,000-circulation magazine."

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