Modern postage meters are so full of features that it can be difficult to understand all their benefits.
Here’s a jargon-free look at the most important ones:
A postage meter’s processing speed is the rate at which it’s able to add postage to items of mail. You’ll usually see it measured in terms of ‘pieces per minute (PPM)’ or ‘letters per minute (LPM)’, but it’s sometimes expressed as ‘pieces per hour (PPH)’ for high-volume postage meters.
Expert Tip: The more mail you send, the more speed you’ll need. Processing speed - or PPM - should be your first consideration when you’re shopping for a new postage meter.
The feeder is the technology that moves your mail through the postage meter. Manual feeders require you to load each piece by hand, semi-automatic feeders automate some parts, and fully-automatic feeders are completely automated. Most entry-level postage meters are either manual or semi-auto, but top line solutions like the FP PostBase integra have auto feed capability.
Expert Tip: Postage meters with automatic feeders aren’t necessarily better - it depends whether they can handle poorly stacked items of mail. If they can’t, you might end up spending more time fixing jams than you would with a manual feeder. If you’re not sure, ask suppliers for a free trial so you can try before you buy.
The Weighing Scale
All postage meters have a built-in scale that weighs each item to calculate the correct postage. One of the main differences between models is how much weight they can handle. The most basic Neopost meter (the IS-280) has a small 2 lb scale for envelopes, which is a far cry from the 70 lb set of scales in the most advanced FP postage meter.
Expert Tip: Even if your average piece of mail only weighs a few ounces, choose your postage meter according to the largest, heaviest package you expect to send.
The Printing System
This is what actually prints the postage mark on a piece of mail. Some meters use thermal printing, which is a reliable option that prints well on glossy surfaces. Others use inkjet printing, which prints faster than thermal and is easier to buy ink refills for.
Expert Tip: There isn’t really a difference in the quality of different printing systems. It really boils down to the cost of ink refills, which do vary a lot by make and model.
The sealer moistens the glue flap on envelopes and applies pressure to seal them shut.
Expert Tip: Factor the costs of postage meter supplies, like sealing solution, into your buying decision. These add up over time, so it makes sense to think about them from the start.
The Exit Tray
This is where processed mail gathers once it’s been weighed and stamped. It’s often just a static container that you have to empty every so often, but some meters feature an automatic conveyor to keep mail from building up in one place.
Expert Tip: Look for postage meters that stack mail neatly in the exit tray, as these will make life easier (and more efficient) for your mailroom employees.