The postal service dates back hundreds of years, it’s an established institution that’s gained a place at the heart of our society. However, this institution has come under threat in recent years as digital technology has reduced the need to send communications using the mailing service. The simple art of sending a letter is beginning to diminish.
Letter volumes have dramatically reduced as people prefer to communicate quickly via email and even text messaging. Digital communications have provided people with an instant means of sending important information, documents and files. This change has come about extremely quickly, forcing an industry that had largely remained unchanged for hundreds of years to consider where their future lies.
In order to maintain their position, the postal service may need to consider some drastic changes in the near future. It’s impossible to work against this new wave of technology, so how can postal operators use it to their advantage? We take a look at the opportunities available, and what some mailing services are planning to do to create a brighter future.
Hand in hand with the decline of the letter has come the rise of the parcel. More and more people are shopping online and the items they order need to be delivered. This is a huge opportunity for mailing services worldwide and where most currently see the future of the mailing service lies. But the switch from letters to parcels is far from simple, and it also comes coupled with a demand for fast delivery. Here’s how mailers are adapting.
There have been multiple reports of different delivery services testing out deliveries by drone. Drones can deliver mail quickly by air, and are especially effective at getting mail to locations that are difficult to reach by land. Areas with rough terrain or surrounded by water may really benefit from drone delivery services.
This technology isn’t being widely used yet, but testing has been prevalent and some big names like Amazon and Google are conducting their own trials. It could only be a matter of time before drones join forces with the mail delivery services.
You’ve seen the Postman Pat Movie, right?! Okay, maybe the future isn’t going to be quite like the animation, with Pat shaped robots that nobody can distinguish from a real person.
In all seriousness, reports from earlier this year explain that the German postal service have been trialling mail delivery robots. This is due to the difficulty experienced by increasing numbers of parcels, which cannot be carried by delivery staff as easily as letters could.
These robots don’t look like people though, more like tables. They are simply transportation aids that will accompany a delivery worker on their rounds. In time, it’s possible that they could work autonomously, collecting parcels from customers. Keep an eye out for this in the future!
New Sorting Machines
Standard sorting machines were designed for letters, but of course the increased volume of parcels has changed the goal posts here too. In the US, huge new package sorting machines are being tested which can sort 7,200 packages within an hour.
Those pesky parcels also often don’t fit through a standard letter box, or in the US, struggle to fit in the usual mailbox. Larger US mail boxes are also being trialled, helping reduce package damage and loss, as well as providing a more convenient mail storage solution.
Recent changes in technology have also opened up new opportunities to marketers that impact on the mailing service. Access to detailed data, sales history and information about customers is now collected by retailers who can use this data to target more effectively. This opens up possibilities for more effective direct marketing.
With the rise of digital technology, many have said that direct mail is dead. In fact, we’re not seeing the steep declines that were predicted. In 2015 direct mail volumes declined just 7.1% year on year according to the Abacus Alliance annual trends report.
Marketers are being smarter about their direct mail campaigns, but they’re still sending them. Data is being used to more effectively target and personalise pieces, and intelligent marketers are reaping the rewards. Over time, although each individual campaign might require less mailing volume, more retailers are likely to combine direct mail with their digital marketing plan to improve their results. This means that direct mail is still a big part of the future of the mailing service.
Although technological advances have brought about some huge challenges for postal services worldwide, we still need deliveries and rely on having a good infrastructure in place. The future of the postal service may look uncertain, but ultimately there are needs that must be met. Established institutions need to rise to the challenge or they could find that their place in the delivery world has been taken up by newer, younger and more adaptable companies.