5 minute read

Despite a shift to digital communications, few organisations are 100% paperless.

For teams responsible for paper-based correspondence, it’s often a manual task. Firstly, writing to customers, employees, suppliers, or other stakeholders, printing, enveloping, and mailing letters is time-consuming.

Secondly, processing paper documents effectively is challenging when physical mail quantities fluctuate, and hybrid working teams now carry out their duties from multiple locations.

Perhaps it’s no surprise therefore that the adoption of hybrid mail solutions is thriving.

What can external print and mail services do?

Print and mail services are hassle-free for organisations to outsource repetitive tasks.

Sometimes referred to as print and post solutions, hybrid mail technology can take care of the whole process. It’s all covered, from printing letters, documents, and inserts to mail fulfilment of final pieces.

Whether it’s a campaign or a crucial communication, users simply upload data and use the solution to do the rest whenever they need to complete a mailing.

How do print and mail solutions work?

Bulk printing and mailing services make communicating with customers, employees and stakeholders as simple as possible.

The print and mail process begins during implementation. Initially, a client services team works with the customer to understand the data format from existing systems. They also establish which communications are currently output and what is needed. They ensure that the data is compatible and apply rules to match the required documents. The technology then applies production rules to produce and deliver your mail.

From the user’s perspective, once up and running, all they need to do is upload the data to a secure portal hosted in the cloud.

The encrypted information is used to create communications that the user can proof as PDF documents.

Once confirmed, the files are automatically sent to a secure printing facility, printed, enclosed, sorted, and ready to post. What’s more, recipients can also receive their communications electronically if that’s their preference.

What kind of documents can you print and mail?

Intelligent print and mail fulfilment services allow users to create more effective and cost-effective direct mail campaigns.

Organisations can use the platforms to create various bespoke documents on letterhead paper, invoices, postcards, flyers and much more.

What are the benefits?

Print and post services can offer several immediate benefits. Not only can organisations make production cost savings by using a platform to produce physical mail items. They can also create a better customer experience.

Teams use the technology to eliminate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, such as manually printing letters and stuffing envelopes. Likewise, mailings are highly personalised, scalable, and delivered to match an organisation’s needs on time and within budget.

Digital communications can also follow up on physical mailings to build a compelling customer experience.

Other benefits of hybrid mail technology such as Aceni are:

  • Better data protection
  • No licence fees
  • Same-day mailing
  • Automated control
  • Document level tracking
  • One supplier, many channels
  • ROI in months
  • Quick and easy set-up
  • Superior security
  • Productivity gains
  • Work from anywhere technology
  • Expert support
  • Postage discounts are available

Moving to a hybrid mail solution

In the simplest form, hybrid mail allows you to transfer digital letter files to a third-party printing and mailing specialist. This intermediary then prints and posts the physical copies and sends them to your recipients.

For many organisations, the desire to change to a more efficient way of working makes total sense. Document automation delivers substantial efficiency gains.

The obstacle can be fear of the unknown.

Procuring technology to move to new ways of working is a significant decision, and managers may perceive it to be costly and add extra work in migration. Teams also often don’t like the idea of change.

However, the onboarding process can be easy and done without extra capital expense with hybrid mail technology.

Hybrid mail solutions, such as Aceni, can be implemented in weeks and drive savings from the get-go.

If your organisation is keen to learn more about hybrid mail platforms, look at our handy guide below of things to consider when buying a hybrid mail solution.

Types of solutions available

There are many providers of hybrid mail solutions within the UK.

Suppliers typically fall into one of three categories; software-led, manufacturing-led, and hybrid mail suppliers.

  • Software-led. These suppliers design and build hybrid mail software but often work with a third-party printer or mailing house to produce and mail documents.
  • Manufacturing-led. Commercial printers or mailing houses have physical production capability but often partner with a software company to give you the hybrid mail user interface.
  • Hybrid mail. Specialists who offer the two specialisms under one roof; both the software and the facility to print and mail items.

Pros and cons of supplier types

Software-led suppliers typically have user-friendly interfaces which they continuously develop and improve. By their very nature, a high level of support is available. However, users may need to find a third-party supplier for the printing and mailing output. Consequently, organisations need to build a strong relationship between software and print suppliers to make this option effective.

The customer works with print and software experts in their respective fields with a manufacturing-led approach. Print quality and the software available are usually high, but transparency on which supplier owns any support issues is required. Furthermore, these supplier types may not have technical staff in-house to support all service elements.

Conversely, hybrid mail suppliers primarily focus on providing clients with the best service. It is one supplier relationship and can offer more responsive support with fewer people. As a result, Information Security controls are easier to govern. The downside is that suppliers may require customers to meet minimum order volumes.

Things to consider when selecting print and mail services

Aside from price, there are essential considerations when procuring a hybrid mail supplier.

When selecting a hybrid mail solution, it is imperative to pay attention to how the supplier actively manages Information Security. Any supplier should demonstrate that they follow all relevant data standards and use independent technical experts to audit and validate the quality of their services.

Whether software-led, manufacturing-led, or both, hybrid mail suppliers should conduct risk assessments to detect and predict the eventuality of any potential issues. This offers reassurance to buyers that the necessary controls are in place to reduce and mitigate a possible data breach, and it should cover accessing, processing, or storing personal data.

A hybrid mail supplier should guide you through the solution set-up process from end to end.

Other considerations include:

IT Infrastructure. Does the supplier offer a web-based solution or on-site software? Ask about Business Continuity, too, for the software, hardware, backups and response times.

Production requirements. Can the supplier demonstrate improvements to current documents? Explore whether they can use compatible envelope sizes, include inserts and handle multiple files for the same person.

Training and support. A provider should offer full training and support to users. Ask if ‘how to’ guides and tutorials, training manuals, webchats, and virtual support are available and included in the price.


Is a hybrid mail platform secure?

Very secure. All data must be uploaded over pre-agreed secure connections. For example, our hybrid mail solution, Aceni is then securely hosted at our UK data centres and/or printed and mailed from our ISO27001 accredited and GDPR compliant UK production centre.

Can recipients also see the documents online?

Yes. You can select to make the documents we generate available in print and online. Some clients send an online version first and set a trigger to send a print copy if it isn’t viewed.

How quickly can print and post services be set up?

With Aceni, simple print projects can be launched within days. For others that need a secure branded web portal and/or complex print projects with different configurations and enclosures, we will always take the time to understand your needs and provide an accurate timescale.

Can you provide documents in other formats?

Yes, the Aceni platform can produce large format documents and offer braille versions.

Final thoughts

Whichever supplier you produce, you should feel confident in the solution from end to end. Selecting a partner and signing the contract is just the first step.

In effect, you need to know what resources are needed, what is involved in the set-up, and how your organisation will be supported.

Take a look at our quick overview of things to consider when buying print and mail services.

Want to know more?

Download our free buyer’s guide to hybrid mail.

In the guide, read our leading hybrid mail expert’s thoughts on the technology in more detail, with best practice advice on what to consider, must-have functionality and more.

The Ultimate Guide to Hybrid Mail will help you deliver the best value solution for your organisation or benchmark a current supplier.

Download guide