• on Feb 9th, 2015 in Products & Services | 3 comments

    People may not like getting bills, but they prefer to receive them in the mail and pay them online.

    That’s the finding of our study on transactional mail, which is made up mostly of household bills and payments moving as First-Class Mail.

    We collaborated with the consulting firm InfoTrends to analyze 3 months’ worth of customer billing data from a major U. S. utility. We also jointly interviewed executives who manage bill delivery and payment processing to help determine how the utility’s delivery-and-payment costs and customer preferences compare with those at other utilities and even in other industries.

    As you can see in our new white paper, Will the Check Be in the Mail? An Examination of Paper and Electronic Transactional Mail, we found that despite a clear preference to pay bills online, 91 percent of customers prefer receiving their bills by mail. Even among the utility’s newest customers — those expected to be more digitally savvy — an average of 89 percent opted to have their bills mailed to them, though, like the others, most preferred paying online.

    The reasons are pretty simple. People like having a physical mailpiece as a reminder to pay and as a record-keeping tool. The execs we spoke with said our results are consistent with what they’ve been seeing and hearing.

    It’s also consistent with another clear directive from consumers: they want options in just about everything, including bill delivery and payment. So, in addition to being good news for mail, our findings suggest that a company offering a variety of bill delivery and payment options will keep customers happy.

    Do you prefer receiving your bills via regular mail or email/text? How about paying – do you pay online or ‘is the check in the mail’? 

  • on Feb 2nd, 2015 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 11 comments

    You can’t cut your way to prosperity. It’s a common saying in business circles, particularly in the mailing industry. The U.S. Postal Service has done a good job cutting costs, yet still needs to grow revenue with new products and services.

    Indeed, recent reports suggest a sure way for a post to boost revenue is by offering customers a range of innovative products, such as parcels, logistics, banking, insurance, and digital services. Many of our papers have encouraged the Postal Service to explore these kinds of revenue-generating products and services.

    Yet diversification doesn’t necessarily mean wandering too far from the mission, or reinventing the wheel. Good ideas can be found close to home, using existing assets. Our most recent paper, Revenue Opportunities for Innovative Mail Services, presented some ideas that could take advantage of the Postal Service’s existing network, brand, excess facilities, equipment, or other assets.

    For example, we looked at International Mail Forwarding (IMF), a service that provides recipients a U.S. address from which packages and mail can be collected, held, digitally scanned, or shipped anywhere in the world. This booming business – a current U.S. market of over $1 billion from service and shipping revenue – is expected to grow even more because foreigners need a U.S.-based address to buy online from U.S. companies. Given the Postal Service’s reputation for being secure and trustworthy, and its experience in international delivery, it could grow quickly in the IMF market, our research indicated.

    We saw another opportunity in continuity shipping, a service where a consumer agrees to receive merchandise automatically at regular intervals until canceling the shipments. This established and growing segment of the retail industry is an integral part of eCommerce fulfillment because it helps automate merchandise shipment and return. Given the Postal Service’s expansive facility and transportation networks, and experience with parcels, it is in a strategic position to offer continuity shipping services.

    These types of products would take advantage of the Postal Service’s existing assets and experience. In addition, they open the door to further innovation and value-added services. Are there other innovative ideas that are similarly “close to home” and worth exploring? Do you think these types of ideas have merit? Is there value in smaller revenue products or should the Postal Service not waste time on smaller projects? 

  • on Jan 28th, 2015 in Products & Services | 5 comments

    The sometimes elusive concept of “brand” is very real and useful to businesses and organizations of all kinds and sizes. A brand encompasses an array of tangible and intangible elements, from a company’s name and logo to consumers’ expectations of a particular product or service. For instance, the names and logos of Mercedes Benz and Lexus usually make people think of reliable, well-built, luxury cars. Wal-Mart and Target are most often associated with large inventories of everyday goods at discounted prices.

    The U.S. Postal Service has a brand, too. Its attributes include reliability, convenience, value, and tradition. Where the Postal Service differs from many other businesses and organizations is in the management of its brand: To get the most financial value out of their brands, successful firms treat them like other assets and carefully measure and monitor them. Brand valuation is an important management tool used to do this. But while the Postal Service has worked to enhance some of its brand attributes, it has never conducted a formal brand valuation.

    We worked with Premier Quantitative Consulting (PQC), experts in brand valuation, to develop an estimate of the Postal Service’s brand value. Based on extensive research and analysis detailed in our new white paper, The Value of the U.S. Postal Service Brand, PQC conservatively estimates the Postal Service brand value is $3.6 billion, based on fiscal year 2013 financial data (the most recent available when PQC performed its study). This means the Postal Service would forego at least an additional $3.6 billion in future cash flows if it had no discernable brand. In other words, if the Postal Service were indistinguishable from a generic delivery brand, it would not realize these significant cash flows.

    PQC also suggested some ways the Postal Service could further enhance its brand. For example, the organization could (1) aggressively respond to inaccurate “doomsday” reports and predictions about its future, (2) involve employees – who are truly “the face of the brand” – in implementing brand strategies, and (3) expand licensing activities.

    Do you think the Postal Service brand is important? What could the Postal Service do to enhance its brand? What are some attributes you associate with various brands? 

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