The Isle of Man Post Office has now launched its digital/hybrid mail service – ePostbox – to a global audience.
The service uses Swiss Post technology, allowing customers to control every piece of physical mail they receive, and choose whether to access it digitally or in hard copy.
Users can view scans of their unopened physical mail before deciding whether to have it opened, scanned and converted to digital mail, or delivered physically to an address anywhere in the world.
ePostbox was introduced domestically in the Isle of Man last year, although regulatory issues restricted it to the local market until now.
While the Isle of Man Post Office told Post&Parcel its customer response during the first year had been “pleasing”, expectations are that many more people – particularly ex-pats – will use it to control their mail from outside the island. It is believed as many as one in 10 British citizens are currently living abroad.
Mike Kelly, the Isle of Man Post Office chief executive, said electronic mailboxes would soon turn from a niche product to a service for the wider public.
“This is a very exciting time for the future of Isle of Man Post Office as we launch our first digital mail product worldwide,” said Kelly. “It is an important time for the future of our postal industry.”
The ePostbox service uses a white-label version of the Swiss Post Box, which has been offered by Swiss Post subsidiary SwissSign since 2009, before the Isle of Man Post Office became its first licensed partner last year.
The technology developed with Siemens Mobility allows customers to use their smartphones as well as their personal computers to access the ePostbox service, with iPhone and Blackberry apps.
Benoit Stroelin, head of Swiss Post Box and a SwissSign board member, said it was now “critical” for Posts to build up a digital reputation and develop their role as a trusted third part on the Internet.
“We strongly believe that connecting the ample and long-standing competence in ‘physical logistics’ with the profound knowledge of secure, digital communication and digital identities in the net is the missing part to make life of mobile people easier, and will be an important business area for innovative postal operators,” said Stroelin.
The Isle of Man Post Office made a GBP 2.49m profit in its most recently-reported financial year, the 12 months up to March 2011, on GBP 26.7m sales, while remaining under “immense pressure” from the impact of declining mail volumes, changing social trends and increased competition.
The company sees its ePostbox service as the “transition to the digital age”.
Mail volumes have declined 30% in the past five years, with a 7% decline in the 2011/11 fiscal year, to 38.5m items. The Isle of Man Post Office said its new ePostbox service would contribute additional revenue.
The company told Post&Parcel it was actively promoting the service to 1.75m expats around the world through various media channels as part of a marketing campaign, and is also harnessing the power of social media.
Source: Post&Parcel/Isle of Man Post Office