Small business franking machines offer an ideal opportunity for companies which send out low volumes of daily post to save money on their postal costs. Whilst the upfront cost of franking machine may be viewed as an unnecessary expense, the truth is that there are franking machines available to suit every business budget and mail volume requirement.
The cost of a cheap small business franking machine is soon balanced out by the improvements in business efficiency; the need to raid petty cash and make a trip to the post office to buy postage stamps becomes a thing of the past when you own a franking machine.
Furthermore, a small business can reduce its expenditure on postage by up to 30% thanks to the Royal Mail discounts applicable to the use of a franking machine. These cover not only first and second class post, but other services including recorded delivery, special delivery and some international postal services.
Currently available cheap small business franking machines
A small business franking machine doesn’t have to break the bank; by shopping around the main manufacturers and the Royal Mail’s approved distributors there are always bargains to be found. Here an idea of the capabilities of some of the best cheap small business franking machines currently on the market:
• Franking machines for postal volumes of up to 50 items per day
A low-volume franking machine can cost as little as £500 and up to £1,500 to purchase outright, and there are enough models available to suit the needs of most small or home business needs. Many models, such as Mailcoms’ ‘Mailstart’, Neopost’s ‘Autostamp’ and Pitney Bowes’ ‘DM55′ feature an integrated weighing platform for automatically applying the correct postage on items weighing up to 2 kilograms.
European Postal Systems’ ‘Personal Post’ system uses a separate electronic scale which is connected via a cable to the franking machine.
Franking machines at this end of the scale tend not to incorporate label or tape dispensers and will accept a maximum package width of around 9mm. The ability to include personalised messages or business logos on the franking imprint may not be supplied as standard with this type of machine but may be available as a chargeable extra.
Small business franking machines in this class can usually process a maximum of twenty items of post per minute.
• Franking machines for postal volumes of up to 100 items per day
Companies requiring a cheap small business franking machine that can handle a higher daily volume of outgoing mail can expect to pay from £1,500 – £3,000. Neopost’s ‘IS330′, for example, has a list price of £2,285. Franking machines in this range can significantly improve the efficiency of a company’s postal operations.
Whilst retaining a small footprint and relatively quiet operation, these franking machines offer capabilities such as automatic feed, package sealing (via a tape dispenser), post stacking, customiseable franking imprints and the ability to accurately weigh and frank heavier and thicker packages, in some cases up to 10mm.
Unlike their SOHO counterparts, franking machines such as Pitney Bowes’ ‘DMI100i’ and FP’s ‘Optimail 35′ can process more than thirty items of mail per minute, and may also feature multiple user accounts which can allow the tracking of postal expenditure for different departments within a small business.
• Franking machines for postal volumes of up to 200 items per day
At the upper end of the scale of cheap franking machines for small businesses are those which can handle volumes of up to 200 mail items per day, such as Mailcoms’ ‘Mailbase’, Pitney Bowes’ ‘DM200i’ and Neopost’s ‘IS350′. These franking machines are suited to companies that send out a mixture of letters and packages of different sizes and weights and feature weighing scales that can cope with packages of up to 5 kilograms.
The inclusion of a differential weighing facility means that items of different weights can be fed into these machines and the correct postage will be calculated and applied automatically. As franking machines in this class are likely to be dealing with a greater volume of outgoing daily post they generally have the ability to frank at least forty items of mail per minute.
The typical purchase price of a small business franking machine that can handle 200 items of post per day starts at around £3,000 (Neopost’s ‘IS350′ has a list price of £3,115).
Top 5 Models
The following list features our top 5 low volume franking machines that have been specially designed for small businesses looking for an entry-level introduction to franking.
“Possibly the easiest and most eco-friendly franking machine currently available”
Designed and manufactured in Switzerland by Swiss company Frama, the Ecomail has been specially designed to use rechargeable ink-ribbon cassettes in tandem with its patented ComTouch touch screen technology. This makes the Ecomail arguably the easiest (and most eco-friendly) franking machine to use currently available on the market today.
Described by Frama as the ‘franking machine for small postal volume’, the Ecomail can actually handle 2000 frankings per hour. It can hold up to 8 company slogans/messages in its memory and is capable of changing dates automatically. It also automatically calculates tariffs and you can program 9 fixed values into the machine for regular mail recipients.
2. Optimail 25
“Has a lot of wonderful features for a small machine”
The Optimail 25 is designed and produced by Germany-based Francotyp Postalia (FP), a company which has always been at the forefront of innovative technology for businesses. The Optimail 25 is the company’s offering for low-volume users, with the capacity to frank up to 30 items a day.
The Optimail 25 has a lot of wonderful features for a small machine: free postage top-ups, auto postage value resets, teleset postal loading, plus it can warn you if your postage is high or low. It can connect digitally through the FPConnect software for tariff updates. You can also program up to 6 advertising messages or slogans into your franking stamp. You can also add an envelope sealer to your machine to make your mailing tasks even easier.
3. Pitney Bowes DM50
“Customisable machine with a PIN code security system”
The DM50 is the entry level machine on offer from Pitney Bowes, a company which has enjoyed nearly a century of excellent reputation.
The DM50 can frank up to 30 pieces of mail per day and comes with an integrated scale which can weigh up to 2.5 kg of mail. You can customise your franking stamp with promotional slogans or messages or your company logo. You can also set up a PIN code to prevent unauthorised use of your DM50. This machine can be updated with the latest postage rates online, and you can even top up your postage credit by phone.
4. Neopost IS240
“Easy to use”
It is the ease of use that many up and coming businesses enjoy about the IS240 from Neopost. The shortcut keys give quick and easy access to your most popular and frequently used settings.
Designed for up and coming businesses, the IS240—also known as the AutoStamp2—offers high-quality digital printing, an integrated 2 kg scale, PIN-protected access, and up to 10 customised slogans to give your business mailings that unique personal touch. It can frank up to 20 letters per minute.
5. Mailstart 2
“Compact and ideal for first time franking machine users”
Awarded the accolade of approved Royal Mail Independent Maintainers and Inspectors of Postal Franking Machines in 2008, Mailcoms is a £1 million-turnover family-run business offering business customers a first-class, low-cost service.
It has now been approved to market its own range of low to high volume franking machines.
One of these is the compact Mailstart 2 which has been designed for low-volume postage users or stamp users ‘looking to switch to franking for the first time.’ The Mailstart 2 boasts of a 2 kg digital posting scale, PIN security setup, automatic date changes, and can handle letters up to 8 mm thick. It also allows you to incorporate advertising messages and other marketing tools into your franking stamp.