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Better Postage Solutions for Small Biz

Most small businesses wrestling with $5.50 gallon of diesel fuel are dealing with heavy-duty new-age business concepts like online office processes say, Google (GOOG) Apps. But there is a much smoother road to innovation and saving that most smaller businesses seem to avoid: the basic -- but crucial -- process of mailing your business letters.

Bulk mail solutions that send out thousands of letters once were strictly big-company options. But they're far less complex and pricey than before. Even heavy-duty mailing equipment supply companies like Rena Systems, Secap or Addrex offer powerful bulk mailers that can fit on a desktop and handle thousands of pieces of mail per hour. And pricing is reasonable: An Addrex bulk addresser, for example, lists at about $2,500, which for a marketing or mail firm is easily financed.

Even small businesses with less intensive mailing needs can expect to find plenty of innovation. I like what I am seeing in entry level, all-in-one weighing and postage systems. The names here are Hasler, Neopost (NEO) and Pitney Bowes (PBI). These units, like the Hasler PostLink (approx $25 per month rental fees but rates vary by region and you will need to work with a local sales rep) can place postage on about 20 letters per minute, have their own internal scales and let you download postage.

The downside with these units is the monthly rental fees, which can add up. And you still need to address your envelopes, which either ties up your office printer, which can be a royal pain on some printers, or forces you to invest in an address labeler. So you spend more.

A Little Dymo

However, the most interesting end of the new mailing environment is the low end, desktop mailing solutions. Stamford, Conn-based label printing outfit Dymo, a unit of Newell Rubbermaid (CHX), makes a neat line of postage systems and labelers. My assistant Nick and I have for the past few weeks been testing one such unit: the Dymo Label Writer Twin Turbo ($189). This small printer and postage machine is easy to fit on your desk and in your business. The Dymo can hold two different size label rolls that let you print nice-looking address labels and professional postage stickers at roughly the same time. Slick.

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