Royal Mail is investing more than £70m in a new barcode system for direct mail, which will allow business customers to track their campaigns through the postal network to final delivery.
The scheme means brand owners will know when customers’ statements and mailshots will be delivered; previously, this information had only been available through higher cost tracked services.
It will also pave the way for the postal operator to launch a Google Analytics-style service, first mooted by Royal Mail MarketReach boss Jonathan Harman last month.
Royal Mail believes the initiative, due to launch early next year, will increase the value of mail to businesses.
Large mail users will be able to improve their efficiency and customer service by staffing operations, such as call centres, based on the exact date customers receive statements or business mail. It will also enable them to improve the effectiveness of marketing mail campaigns and to more accurately link associated communications activities, for example, a text message, with delivery of their mail.
The investment is part of Royal Mail Group’s strategy to manage structural changes in the letters market. Its core letters business generated almost £4.8bn in reported revenue during the 2012-13 financial year, a rise of 3% on a like-for-like basis.
Initially, 47 companies, organisations and mailing houses that collectively send more than eight million items of mail a day, including the DVLA and retailer N Brown Group, are taking part in the initiative which will launch on a phased approach. Royal Mail expects it will then be further rolled out to all business contract customers over the following two years.
Each customer will be able to add barcodes to their mail which will give them access to daily online reports detailing which mailings have been processed and sent out for delivery.
Royal Mail managing director of consumer and network access Stephen Agar said: “The introduction of this new barcode technology to letters will enable businesses to track the progress of bulk mail consignments through the postal network, helping them to improve their own efficiency and customer service.”
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