Mailers offered access to competing US digital mail platforms

Canadian company Crawford Technologies has developed software to allow US business mailers to get into digital mail without having to wait for a market-leading platform to emerge. As companies like Zumbox, Doxo and Manilla fight to attract consumers and mailers to sign up to their secure electronic mail services, the new PRO Channel Manager software will allow mailers to make use of one or all of the channels without having to predict a winner.

Sitting in between the print process and the mail, the software will access customer databases allowing mailers to switch between channels depending on which individual consumers are signed up to each.

The software, which is set to beginning shipping next month, is modular so that mailers can start with one channel and add additional channels as required.

Crawford Technologies currently has relationships with the Zumbox, Manilla and Doxo platforms, and hopes to bring Pitney Bowes’ Volly service on board when it has its consumer launch later this year.

It could also add other bill consolidation services and digital mail providers – for example, the US Postal Service should it get into the digital mail arena.

“We can almost guarantee that there’s not going to be just one player in this market,” said Crawford Technologies senior marketing associate Jonathan McGrew.

“You could probably argue that today Zumbox is out there in the forefront, but we don’t know if Manilla, Doxo or Volly are going to be just as aggressive as time goes on, and then we expect that USPS will also offer some sort of digital mail solution – because they’ll have to.”

Value

Current predictions are that within five years, the American market should see 2bn paperless bills and statements sent each year to consumers, cutting $1.8bn in print and mail costs for mailers.

Toronto-based Crawford Technologies, which has US offices in New York and Colorado, provides a range of mail software including mail optimisation platforms and tracking systems used in the physical mail space.

McGrew said the company did not see digital mail as a threat to that side of its business, since digital postal mail in the US is still fighting for a single-digit market share.

But, he said the new software would really allow customers in the printing and mailing business to sell the value of digital mail to their end customers, for example the lower costs involved, particularly with the predicted explosion in tablet and mobile internet usage in the US.

McGrew said the PRO Channel Manager was being priced at an “affordable” level for even smaller and mid-sized mailers could invest in the technology and then grow into higher volume businesses.

The software is designed to fit mailers’ existing mail production systems, avoiding the need to purchase new machines to switch to digital.

“We know that there are large service providers that are going to try to do this on their own, because they have enough volume to implement systems,” said McGrew. “We’re hoping that by bringing this to market so early, that instead of that happening, that PRO Channel Manager becomes a standard.”

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