Q1. How does mail tracking work?

A1. SnailWorks™ Mail Tracking builds the intelligent mail barcode (iMb) for each record in your mailing. One element of the iMb is a unique sequence number. As mail travels through sorting equipment at various USPS processing facilities, the mail pieces are scanned, capturing the unique sequence number (as well as the mailer ID, Service Type, processing facility, operation number and processing date and time). The Postal Service “shares” this data with SnailWorks™ and SnailWorks™ in turn provides reporting on the scans.


Q2. How does the SnailWorks™ “scan type” menu option work?

A2. SnailWorks™ mail tracking reports can be viewed by using different scan types received from the USPS:

  • First Scan – a first scan is the initial scan reported by the Postal Service for an individual piece of mail, generally performed at the destination NDC or SCF.
  • Last Scan – a last scan is the last scan reported by the Postal Service for an individual mail piece.
  • *Delivery Date – Every scan within the postal system carries an operations code. Certains codes are classified by the USPS as “stop the clock” operations codes. When SnailWorks receives one of these codes a projected *Delivery Date is calculated utilizing an algorithm that weighs the time of day the scan occurs and other element/conditions. As additional scans are received for a mail piece, delivery date projections are adjusted as necessary.

Users are able to select the type of scan they would like to view by selecting from the drop-down menu located at the top of the reports dashboard.


Q3. How often are reports updated?

A3. SnailWorks™ receives scan data from the post office overnight and updates the data and reports for each piece of tracked mail. Depending on the volume of data being reported by the USPS all mail tracking reports should be updated and current by 9:30am EST. Q4. Is every mail piece scanned? A4. While the post office strives to scan 100% of the mail processed, most jobs have a small percentage of un-scanned mail pieces. This does not mean that the mail was not delivered., only that those pieces bypassed mail sorting equipment. Scan rates for letter-sized mail pieces usually average 90% or better and for flat-sized mail scan rates are typically around 70%. Some flat mail has lower scan rates than letters since some USPS facilities do not have flat sorting equipment.


Q5. What are some of the conditions that could cause lower scan rates?

A5. There are a number of factors that can impact scan rates – equipment availability at the particular USPS processing center, mail pirce size and thickness, and the sort level and density of the mail file. Postal facilities may opt to bypass machine sorting of mailing if an entire tray of mail is going to a single location or carrier.


Q6. What types of mail is SnailWorks able to provide tracking services for?

A6. Mail tracking services are available for First-Class, Periodicals and Standard Mail letters and flats. Bound Printed Matter and other Package Service classes are not spported by SnailWorks mail tracking.


Q7. What Reports are available?

A7. The SnailWorks™ reports provide mail tracking information by geography cross-tabbed by scan date. Each report allows users to drill down from the USPS Postal Area to the individual mail piece; counts are reported both by day and cumulative total. You are able to select the report type by selecting from the options listed in the drop-down menu located in the upper right-hand side of the reports dashboard. Results may be viewed for “first scan” activity, “last scan” activity or “delivery date” (see A2 for a description of each type scan). Select the scan type activity from the drop-down menu located to the left of the report type menu.


Q8. Are any of the reports downloadable?

A8. SnailWorks™ offers a variety of performance reports that are available as downloads as well as viewable on-line. The performance reports may be selected by scan type and are available by Postal Area, NDC, SCF, State, Zip3 and Zip5 (and by User Defined criteria).


Q9. Are the Forwarded and Returned Mail reports part of ACS?

A9. They are not. The SnailWorks™ Forwarded and Returned mail reports provide data for mail pieces that are redirected in the postal system to an address other than the one originally placed on the mail piece. SnailWorks™ is also able to manage your ACS reporting data and provide reports for address changes and undeliverable mail reported through the USPS OneCode ACS program.


Q10. I am noticing that my mail is taking longer than anticipated to deliver, is there anything I can do?

A10. One of the major benefits of mail tracking is learning the amount of time required to get your mail into the hands of your recipients. If you find there are some ZIP Codes or SCF’s that are taking longer than others to deliver you may contact customer services at the USPS and share the mail tracking results with them.