Russian Post and Poste Italiane plan hybrid mail venture

Russian Post and Poste Italiane are planning a joint project to develop a hybrid mail service for Russia. A business plan for the venture is to be produced by the end of this year, with Russian Post suggesting that the outcome could be the launch of a new joint Russian-Italian company to provide the service.

Hybrid mail allows mailers to send documents electronically to a postal operator, which then converts them into physical letters for local delivery as regular mail.

It can save on production, collection and processing costs and cut transit time compared to mail produced and sent by mailers to travel through the whole mail chain.

Russian Post explained: “When using hybrid mail, information is sent along with a database of names and addresses electronically to a print centre closest to the destination of the recipients, where is it printed on customised paper and sealed in an envelope. The messages can therefore bypass the main stage of mail transit and enter recipients’ mailboxes much more quickly than by sending the conventional way.”

Partners

Poste Italiane has been working with Russian Post as a technical consultant since 2010 to help the state-owned operator to modernise and develop new products and services.

Last July, the two firms signed a new agreement to work on a modernisation plan, and introduce “next generation” services in Russia.

Yesterday Russian Post said a joint hybrid mail working group had its first meeting in Moscow recently, along with representatives of Selex Elsag, the Italian communications company which was also part of July’s agreement with the two posts.

The meeting saw discussion of the emerging hybrid mail market and Russian Post’s progress in this area so far, and also outlined a way forward for the development of a new hybrid mail service in the Russian federation.

“Ample” opportunities

Russian Post said the opinion of its partners was that there were “ample” opportunities for hybrid mail in Russia, particularly in the direct mail field, a market which is predicted to grow by 15% over the next three to five years.

As well as business mail and advertising mail, the service could also be used for catalogues, product samples and other kinds of mail, the Post said.

Russian Post said it intends to set up a network of printing and finishing centres across the the country, using state-of-the-art technology, to provide “comprehensive” hybrid mail services to public sector, commercial customers and also retail customers.

The company already has some hybrid mail production capacity at its sorting centres in Moscow and St Petersburg, but believes the new project could increase its current production capacity by 20 times, up to 20m items per day.

Plans include new centres to open in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk and Krasnodar in 2013, with similar centres opening in six more cities in 2014 and 2015, including Khabarovsk, Samara, Voronezh, Mineralnye Vody, Krasnoyarsk and Nizhny Novgorod.

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