DEFINITION of Accelerated Reply Mail - ARM

Accelerated reply mail (ARM) is an expedited delivery of business reply mail offered by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Reply mail may be routed to a postal facility other than the one to which the mail is addressed, and is available for pickup by the ARM customer, or reshipped by express mail to the customer. The ARM service is generally used to receive orders and payments faster, thus reducing order-processing times and enabling more efficient cash management.

BREAKING DOWN Accelerated Reply Mail - ARM

ARM is a USPS special stand-alone service for customers that receive large volumes of mail and/or need multiple separations. Reply mail from the customers of the "caller" (the company utilizing the ARM service) is processed on USPS equipment set up to include the unique ZIP+4 digit barcode assigned to the caller for sorting and distribution. The captured mail is either held for pickup by the caller at the facility or reshipped to the caller.

Since there are costs involved in using the ARM service, it only becomes economical above certain thresholds for reply mail volumes. While the ARM service may not offer an attractive payoff for small businesses, it may be a necessary cost of doing business for larger companies. For such companies, faster receipt of receivables, if the reply mail contains payments, improves cash flow.

Example

A magazine publication may collect subscriber payments by accelerated reply mail method. Hundreds or thousands of subscription payments may be consolidated at a secure USPS facility for collection by the media company or sent by priority express service to the customer. Either way, ARM is a convenience for the customer that wants efficient and fast organization of reply mail.