Royal Mail are to invest £70 million to add barcode tracking to bulk mail. 47 customers have signed up so far for the service including DVLA. Together these 47 companies send over 8 million items of mail each day.
Stephen Agar, Royal Mail’s managing director of consumer and network access, 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“.
Companies will print the barcodes on to envelopes, and be able to track mail using online daily reports.
The barcodes due to be launched early next year, will only be used on bulk mail. Royal Mail say that they have no plans to add the barcodes to personal mail or parcels. The new barcodes will not cost participating companies any extra so the service will be considerably cheaper than existing tracked services such as recorded delivery. The service will be rolled out to all business contract customers in 2015 to 2016.
The idea is that companies will be able to predict more accurately when marketing mail and credit card statements arrive with the consumer. This should allow integrated marketing campaigns with follow-up phone calls, emails and text messages able to be coordinated with letter deliveries.
Whilst Royal Mail say that there are no plans for the new barcode service to be introduced on personal mail and parcels, they will be upgrading sorting machines and developing software. Is it possible that lower cost tracking could one day be as simple as downloading and printing a barcode stamp from the Royal Mail website?
Regardless of whether the service becomes more widely available this is a great move by Royal Mail. They’re stuck with delivering the final mile service for competitors and the chances are that many of the bulk mailings you receive are posted with a competitor but delivered by Royal Mail. The additional tracking is a reason for companies to come back to Royal Mail and a way to differentiate themselves from competitors.