In a world where trends emerge at pace and rapidly increase customer expectations for service and products, it’s a continual challenge for large national and international companies, such as Posts, to anticipate future requirements and gear their development activity to remain relevant and be the chosen provider for businesses and consumers.
Inevitably Posts are reliant on complex infrastructures, systems and processes integrating the technical and operational to provide a reliable and effective platform, delivering access to a range of services to customers. Understanding the interdependencies across the business is vital, since a change in one element can result in issues and consequences elsewhere. On-going investment in the infrastructure and access channels is equally important, so as to sustain business success in what is an increasingly fast-moving climate.
For those of us with long corporate memories it is always interesting to have seen a couple of familiar names crop up in the news highlighting their on-going track record as providers to Posts. Such companies continuously support delivery of customer service throughout periods of change. For example, Escher has just celebrated 20 years of Riposte retail software. Even though the systems have been around for such a long time, it is still quite relevant. In the last 12 months Escher has agreed contracts for its Riposte software to be used in Malaysia, Swaziland and Pakistan by the national postal operators.
Swift Postal, with 10 years’ experience, has just completed installation of a new postal counter automation system for Nieuwe Post (the postal operator for the former Netherlands Antilles) in the Caribbean. Swift Postal has deployed the system across its retail network in the islands of Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St Eustatius and Saint Maarten.
Those of you who keep a keen eye on the business results of Posts would, in recent weeks, have noted several references to a fall in annual returns where, in part, the cause has not been purely linked to volume decline and revised patterns of business, but where attention has been drawn to significant investment programmes to modernise and change the business, particularly in relation to revised technology based platforms.
As industry experts and as a PAF reader you are likely be aware, to some extent, of the different approaches, partnerships and customer-supplier relationships which exist between Posts and advisers or providers in relation to their current or planned technical infrastructures or architecture. By way of an example of a recent initiative we recently drew your attention to the India Post award of a major contract to Infosys to upgrade its financial services infrastructure in 150,000 post offices across the country.
We constantly see evidence of Posts involved in on-going work to expand customer access channels and improve their platforms for delivering new products and services. Supporting e-commerce has been a major theme over recent years, whereby Posts have been working to protect their share of the fulfilment market. Canada Post provides a recent example of this. Canada Post has retained IT services company OSF Global Services to help integrate its shipping services more effectively with e-commerce websites. OSF is developing an easy-to-use interface for Internet retailers based on the Demandware software platform, so their web shops integrate with Canada Post delivery.
In Belgium bpost has the ambition to be a one stop partner for all consumer deliveries linked to online shopping and returns. This is part of their “Customer First” programme, which includes new and improved services such as “bpaid”. This is a prepaid credit card launched early last year, which has seen 100,000 cards sold up to the end of 2012, and a new same-day consumer delivery service, “bpost by appointment”, which is being piloted in four municipalities and further testing to follow later this year.
Postal access via smartphone apps is another major investment area for Posts. Canada Post offers a Smartphone App that provides package tracking, nearest Post Office destination, access to postage rates and a postcode finder. A recent enhancement includes the facility to store and pay household bills. Deutsche Post is one of the Posts that has optimised its website to enable access from browser links on mobile phones and or via Post Mobil Apps.
PostNL offers an App for customers to provide them with an overview of their online purchases. At point of checkout the consumer’s web profile directs them to web shops for further added value options or requirements. Consumers are also able to use the App to redirect expected parcels for alternative delivery.
Singpost’s ScanDelight is a QR scanner application where the customer can scan any QR code with the application, and also enjoy free sample redemptions and e-Coupon offers, without having to visit any store. The process is simple as it requires three steps only: Download the free ScanDelight App to a mobile phone, check the inbox for merchants’ direct mailers with ScanDelight QR Codes. Scan the ScanDelight QR Codes to access the offers
Hybrid and digital mail services continue to appear. Russia Post and Poste Italiane have formed a joint working group to assess technical requirements and needs in relation to hybrid mail. The hybrid mail services to be offered by Russia Post will be based on Poste Italiane’s existing hybrid mail service, Postel.
Polish Post, now facing competition due to market liberalisation, has launched a service for hybrid greetings cards and postcards. This service, named NeoKartka, was developed as part of the customer demand for more digital mail services. This is similar to Singpost’s Post-a-card that allows the user to send postcard from anywhere in the world.
Conscious that people travel widely but may have a need to access and pay for official services from within their home nation whilst overseas, India Post has announced eIPO (electronic Indian postal order), a collaboration with its government departments, which provides a simple means of payment for citizens living abroad who need to use the country’s “Right to Information” service. It will enable the purchase of an Indian Postal Order as payment for government services on line from anywhere in the world with the transaction taking place through India Post’s e-post office portal.
As this piece was being produced the team were conscious that a range of significant events in the industry calendar will have commenced or be at an advanced stage of planning. For example, Postal Vision, which took place on the 23rd and 24th of April and Triangle’s World Mail and Express conference to take place in Madrid from the 4th until the 6th of June.
In particular the recent shortlist of companies and programmes selected by the independent panel to go forward to the final stage of judging at the Triangle World Mail Awards on 5th June at the Madrid Hilton Hotel may have reminded you as to the breadth and diversity of innovative programmes underway in Posts.
It may be helpful and timely to remind you that in addition to our sharing PAF news, we undertake bespoke work for members, which look in much greater depth at some of the topics of interest to those in the postal industry looking to future-proof their organisations. It’s always worth a discussion to see what and how we may work together – just don’t ask us to predict the winners of the Awards until after the ceremony on 5th June.
However even if we are not predicting outcomes, we can suggest you may find it valuable to attend the Triangle event in Madrid, which will provide you with the opportunity to network with peers and share common challenges.
For those of us staying home and relying on technology to keep us up to speed, we will be back in touch next month.
Source: Ann Nevison
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