bpost tests bundling of household mail

Belgium’s bpost has launched initial testing on a new way to present unaddressed advertising mail – bundled with householders’ addressed mail. Tests began a couple of days ago for about 1,500 households in each of two cities within Belgium – and Verviers. A second phase will see the number of households on the trial increased to about 6,800 in each area.

To start with, items are being manually sorted into bundles for each house, with mail carriers providing the final processing bringing together unaddressed mail items with addressed mail that has been fully sequenced on machines.

Ultimately if the testing finds consumer acceptance, the company will look to develop automatic sorting systems to bundle unaddressed and addressed mail into folders for delivery to households.

If successful, bpost believes it could see a nationwide roll-out by 2016.

Piet Van Speybroek, spokesman for bpost, told Post&Parcel today that the new system could mean better visibility for advertising materials within the mail stream, since flyers and leaflets would be included in folders along with other types of mail such as transactional items.

“There are many competitors in the field of unaddressed mail, and we are not currently the number one,” said Van Speybroek. “But our feeling is that what we offer is very good quality and has very good visibility, and of course bundling mail like this would mean even more visibility for our unaddressed mail.”

Vision 2020

The bundled mail initiative comes as a part of boost’s overall transformation programme, Vision 2020, which is streamlining processes and improving operational efficiencies as the company responds to current trends in the mail.

Van Speybroek said it was quite a difficult process to bring together the unaddressed and addressed mail streams into bundles for individual addresses, so assuming the initial tests go well, bpost is anticipating the need for highly specialised sorting systems before the system rolls out nationwide.

Testing will have to show that mail carriers can deal with bundled mail, for example fitting bundles within household mailboxes, and that householders are happy to receive their mail in this way.

If testing is successful, new machines would be developed from 2014 for deployment in 2016 under boost’s current plans.

The spokesman said bpost has had some good feedback already from customers, who have recommended the use of paper-based folders, rather than plastic, on environmental grounds.

“They are also saying there should be information provided on the paper folders so they are not just plain white, otherwise there is not so much added value for householders,” he said, adding: “We are looking at providing local information, perhaps local news, games like crosswords and perhaps some advertising on folders.”

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