Australia Post are they the next Internet victim?
It has started, in the USA of course with verified digital mail, now it is only time before…
The death of postal mail has long been in discussion since the Internet first kicked off in the early 1990’s. Well we all know that change even one as rapid as the Internet is not necessarily as fast offline as it is online. Sixteen years later and we are now starting to see some of the effects of the digitisation of mass and 1-2-1 communications. We have already seen the rapid decline of print with Newspapers and Directories now it is Australia Posts turn.
Australia Posts mail volume fell 4.2 per cent in 2009/10 and as AusPost is such a volume player this hit them hard with a fall of 66% for their annual profit. Australia Post has actually been doing quite well until recently compared to other postal services around the world until recently.
Thing is whilst Australia Post is seeing a decline in their mail volume and they start to look for ways to digitise their business their are already players out there competing successfully with new services.
So whilst the CEO of Australia Post, Ahmed Fahour (ex-NAB CEO) wants to change the direction of the AusPost Super Tanker into a nimble Frigate by;
“Everything that we can do physically to the best of our ability we want to offer digitally. We are looking to have an Australia Post shop online, sometime next year.”
And that is what I want to write about, you see I am sure that the Australian Government will continue to run AusPost as a Public Good for sometime yet. Even if Fahour gets to didgitise elements of AusPost and build in a Financial Services arm.
Australians love the internet, but do they love postal mail?
But what I think is really interesting is the opportunity which the change in behaviour of consumers and business using the Internet is creating. Australians love using the Internet, we may currently have slow connections compared to other countries but we have over 80% penetration of usage with Australians being online. This actually represents a 151% growth in the last 10 years.
So, this means that trend being a marketers friend shows that there is easily enough of the population online to start offering more services, and more trusted services, via the Internet at that. Even better, we also have the National Broadband Network looming large on the radar which will be 21st infrastructure that will drive real opportunity for Australians online at FTTH speed.
So, what could this all mean?
Well this could mean an opportunity for business and consumers to not receive any post to their letterbox or PO Box ever again.
It really is a game changer, you would not ever have to receive a paper based communication or flyer to a physical mail box again. All of your post could be delivered directly to a secure and permission based online post box. So, you would have complete control over who sends you marketing materials. Of course, the delivery of bills and services would still be a necessary evil.
So as we look out into what this new world of digitised trusted communications could mean is that what was once a given opportunity for Direct Marketers would be completely permission driven. The postal address for a consumer would not exist. This would have a serious impact on how direct marketers market today. In many ways it would be for the better for the recipients of the communications.
Has anyone done this yet?
Yes, in the USA there is a company which has started to do exactly what I have talked about. Zumbox, provide a secure and verified digital mailbox for business and consumers. No more paper based bills, junk mail or direct mail offers.
What is even more surprising is that the service is offered FREE to users in the USA. No charge. So they can compete head to head with the US Postal Service. Clearly, the are no barriers or vested interests that have tried to block the Zumbox business, thing is can our regulatory environment in Australia allow for a Zumbox service. I am sure that as we are a free market that the ACCC would have something to say about any barriers created by the natural monopoly that is the current Australia Post.
So, we believe it is really just a matter of time before services like Zumbox arrive in Australia.
Oh and how do they make their money, have a look here.
Hopefully this is food for thought about the changing nature of communications and direct marketing in particular direct mail marketing!