In this guest post today, Hugh Craigie Halkett, Managing Director of Stamp Free discusses some of the frustrations marketplace sellers face on a daily basis and how these issues may soon be solved.
Can a mobile app revolutionise sending and returning items?
As a marketplace seller, we’ve all experienced a multitude of frustrations, from data security to supply chain stock issues to economic uncertainty and unplanned price increases.
But quite often, the simplest of steps in the journey of sending our parcels can leave us banging our heads against the wall and wondering why there aren’t simpler solutions available in this day and age. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most frustrating elements of the ecommerce journey for both rookies and seasoned veterans and highlight just one of the ways this is being tackled via smart technology.
You’ve got great products and manage your stock with pride. You’re in a great marketplace. Customers are finding you. They want your product, and they place an order. Hooray – you’re an ecommerce winner! Until you realise that your printer has run out of ink (if you even have a printer), you can’t print the address label, let alone the returns label that your customer may or may not use. Or you’ve run out of labels, or even worse, get a paper jam on the last label that you need to print! What about the added frustration of your returning customer getting to a parcel shop only for the print-on-demand not to be working. Plus, you’ve accepted an order with a delivery promise that you can’t afford to fail.
The humble label can often be one of the most stressful parts of the whole process, and that’s before your customer has had to grapple with labels for the return too. The label contains a plethora of information, including location and price. It is a vital source of information for the carrier or postal. But in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new technology companies, there must be a simpler solution for marketplace sellers to manage the sending of parcels and the management of returns. One that reduces the stresses and inconvenience of the label whilst still giving carriers all the information needed to get a parcel safely from A to B.
The answer may just lie in the ubiquitous smartphone. After all, 97% of the UK population have one compared to only 82% of the population having a printer (and it’s a sure bet that not all those printers are updated like we do our smartphones).
But how can a smartphone replace a label and provide more convenient shipping and returns?
The answer is in the rapid pace of advancement in AI made usable within a smartphone app.
AI is a wide-ranging branch of computer science concerned with building smart machines and deep learning, capable of performing tasks that typically require human intelligence. We all use it daily, from our Netflix recommendations to Alexa around our homes. And it is the power of AI that is now playing its part in the transformation of the postal and logistics industry.
Challenger sector technology innovators like Stamp Free have harnessed AI handwriting recognition technology delivered via a smartphone app to free small businesses and marketplace sellers from needing any label at all. No need for labels, printers or even queuing!
The technology may be AI, but it is super simple. It requires no stamps or labels, just a pen and a mobile phone. You’ll never need any form of paper receipt ever again, either, when they can be stored neatly in the app for hassle-free peace of mind.
Via the app, anyone from an individual to an ecommerce seller can pay for postage and be issued a unique ‘Digicode’ that is then handwritten onto the parcel. The app scans the handwriting to verify the code, and then the parcel is good to head off on its journey. And there are no issues with accuracy as the advancements in AI technology mean that all handwriting, even the messiest, can be scanned accurately in the blink of an eye. So, when it enters a postal or carrier network, they can be assured that address details are correct and that the data in their systems is too.
Crucially, the same returns technology is also available for paid or free return options providing a simpler, hassle and label-free process for customers wishing to return an item.
One simple code, generated by an app and written on a parcel, contains all the information that a seller, customer and carrier need to get that parcel to its destination. And it’s good news for the environment too. Over 4bn parcels and their respective labels were shipped in 2021, according to Statista. Making even a small dent can be good news.
And, if it sounds like this is future technology, it’s not; and it’s ready to get going on a path of ecommerce convenience, smartphone simplicity and personal productivity.
So, the potential is there to say goodbye to label frustrations for good, whether you’re generating a parcel or a customer sending back a return; all you’ll need to do is find a pen that works!