Royal Mail: connecting the physical letter with the digital world

Royal Mail: connecting the physical letter with the digital world

Royal Mail has announced that following a successful national trial, it is adding unique barcodes to all its Definitive stamps.

The move is part of the Company’s extensive and ongoing modernisation drive and will allow the unique barcodes to facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services for customers.

Recipients of mail featuring a barcoded stamp can watch an exclusive video by scanning the stamps in the Royal Mail App. The video features Shaun the Sheep, created exclusively for Royal Mail by the multi-award-winning British animation studio, Aardman. The video is the first in a series of planned videos to be released during 2022 that will allow customers sending stamped mail to choose which video the recipient can see when they receive an item of mail.

The new barcoded stamps will have a digital twin and the two will be connected by the Royal Mail App. The barcodes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line.

Definitive stamps are the regular ‘everyday’ stamps featuring the profile of HM The Queen created by the sculptor Arnold Machin. The design has changed very little since it was introduced in June 1967. The image has become one of the most iconic pieces of artwork in the world and has been reproduced in excess of 175 billion times.Non-barcoded Definitive and Christmas stamps will remain valid until 31 January 2023. Customers are encouraged to use their non-barcoded stamps before this date. Alternatively, non-barcoded stamps can be exchanged for the new barcoded version through Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme.The ‘Swap Out’ scheme will open on 31 March 2022. Customers will be able send unused stamps via  a Freepost address. Forms will be available via a variety of channels, including: local Customer Service Points; the Royal Mail website and via our Customer Experience team. Further details will be announced shortly.

Nick Landon, Royal Mail Chief Commercial Officer said: “Introducing unique barcodes on our postage stamps allows us to connect the physical letter with the digital world and opens up the possibilities for a range of new innovative services in future.”

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