Turning Point: Digital transformation in the postal and express industry

Turning Point: Digital transformation in the postal and express industry

Christoffer Augsburg, Growth Marketing Manager at e-Boks explains how digital transformation is affecting the postal sector.

“With the world embracing digital technology at an ever-faster rate, customers (both senders and receivers) are increasingly expecting to interact directly with the postal service through digital channels. In addition, according to the Universal Postal Union, 73 percent of postal services, indicate that they have increased their investment in digital postal services. Therefore, it is clear that the digital postal services landscape will continue to evolve in a number of directions.

The postal infrastructure forms the backbone of a government’s communications with its citizens. Although postal services play a vital role in connecting people, businesses and governments across the world, the postal industry is grappling with its greatest challenge yet: digital disruption.

Historically, access to a postal network was as important as access to digital and mobile communications is now. Today, the overwhelming success of email, social and mobile media has led to a decline in physical letter volumes and – more importantly – substitution by other means of communication.

Digitization has changed the role of the postal sector as letter volumes decline and parcel volumes grow. Whereas letter volume decline has shaped the postal market and continues to drive changes, the advances in ICTs (information and communications technology) create new opportunities and demands for the postal market. The combination of strong letter volume decline and growth in parcel volumes has important operational and economic implications for postal networks.

A turning point

Postal services are at a turning point: they need to adapt in order to remain relevant, competing with digitally native companies in different areas of their product portfolio. To be able to compete effectively, postal services need to speed up the digitization of their products. This means that postal operators that have not yet fully digitized, need to do so urgently, or risk being excluded as digital service providers for e-government, e-commerce, and e-finance services.

One thing is safe to say; the importance of digital post will rise, and that hardly any commercial service can match the tradition and deeply ingrained trust that postal networks hold. But a rising public pressure for sustainability leads to a dire need for innovation when it comes to the postal industry.

From physical to digital

Secure, flexible, and inexpensive communication between citizens and public authorities – e.g. through a digital postbox – are some of the many advantages of increased digital communication.

Digital postbox services are a secure delivery channel where consumers can view, manage and organize their digital communications from multiple providers in a single location, through a single login. Through this channel, consumers can receive and respond to various transactional communications, while also securely manage other business relationships, such as paying bills, uploading and storing documents, and receiving important notices and reminders.

A secure digital postbox is much safer than sending physical communications via the ordinary postal system – because it is much easier to steal information from a physical postbox. Among other benefits of having a digital postbox is savings on internal and postage costs while simultaneously reducing your environmental impact.

In some geographical regions, it may be difficult to find the exact mailing address of an intended recipient, or many intended recipients may live at the same address. However, with safe digital post, the sender has a guarantee that each of the documents sent will be received by the right person.

Trust is increasingly important

It is a fact that the postal industry is being disrupted by technological developments. Digital means of communication are replacing paper-based ones and decreasing the demand for physical letters. In other words, this is a call to action to increase the pace of digital transformation within the Postal and Express Industry.

In some EU countries, governments themselves have driven the development in a digital direction, pushing new digital services which enable them to communicate in a secure and trusted way with their own citizens. But there are many countries waiting to take the next digital steps, such as digital mail.

Amongst the different factors influencing usage, trust in government is increasingly important. An advancing digital economy and society impact the routines of people, and this can only work if people trust the organization that is accountable for that change. One possible explanation is that citizens might only be willing to share personal data online when they trust their government to provide high-quality and therefore secure online service.

There is still a lot of ground to be won, even amongst the frontrunners in eGovernment. According to the EU’s eGovernment Benchmark report 2019, the way forward in eGovernment services is building digital public services that people trust and will therefore use as it makes their interaction with government easier.”

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