Australia Post will officially launch its new digital mail service next month, chief executive Ahmed Fahour confirmed today.
Addressing the Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) today in Melbourne, Fahour said the speed of change in Australia’s communication technology, and switch by consumers to Internet and smart phones had been “startling” in the last four years.
But he said if Australia Post sat back and ignored the digital economy, it would see its share of the country’s communications market continue to dwindle.
Instead, the new Australia Post Digital MailBox will launch in October as a free service for consumers to receive and manage their bills and statements, and make payments. The new platform will use Pitney Bowes’ Volly technology.
The Australia Post CEO said businesses could cut their delivery costs for essential communications by up to 70% through the new service.
“The Digital MailBox will really deepen engagement levels between service providers and their customers – there will be no spam, no clutter and no junk mail,” said Fahour today.
“Businesses will be able to track how their customers are receiving their digital mail – and acting on it – in real time.”
Fahour said the new Digital MailBox is now live and undergoing final testing with staff members.
“By early next year, all Australians will have their own official Digital MailBox,” he said.
Three major commercial partners – Telecoms firm Telstra and financial services firms AMP and Westpac – have signed up to use the Australia Post Digital MailBox so far.
Many other mailers – including government agencies and businesses – will be revealed as new clients for the service next month Fahour promised today.
Australia Post’s new service will be competing against a similar new secure digital mail service offered by private sector consortium Digital Post Australia, which is also currently undergoing testing and is due for a launch later in 2012.
Australia has one of the most Internet-savy populations in the world, with six in 10 adult Australians now using smartphones to access online content according to Fahour, who said one in three Australian households are expected to own an iPad tablet computer by the end of this year – after it was originally launched in Australia only as far back as 2010.
While Australia Post will benefit from the move towards online retail, its CEO said, but the online boom has seen its traditional mail volumes fall by 20% in the past four years.
“Some parts of our business at Australia Post are really suffering, while other parts are booming as a result of the digital economy,” he said.
“We have been losing a substantial amount of money in our regulated mail business for several years now.”
Fahour said Australia Post could site back and let the core business decline or embrace the opportunities of the digital economy. Since he joined the company in 2010, he said the Post has chosen the latter option.
While he said the most obvious growth opportunities are in ecommerce parcels, if his company did not offer a digital alternative to letters, it would see its share of the broader communications market continue to fall.
“So we are matching our nationwide physical logistics network with a virtual network backed by a secure, Australian-based cloud,” said Fahour.
“We have a proud track record as a trusted intermediary that connects businesses and government with their customers… and we are intent on maintaining that position of trust whether it be for sending mail, transacting and shopping online or securing your personal information in our Digital MailBox.”
Fahour said ultimately the Digital MailBox was part of overall efforts at improving customer service within Australia Post, following a long tradition of communications innovation at the company.
“The Digital MailBox is going to be our next major contribution to upgrading Australia’s communications infrastructure,” he said.
Source: Post&Parcel/Australia Post