The pandemic has significantly altered the way consumers shop, expediting the shift to digital shopping by roughly five years. In fact, e-commerce sales are projected to generate over $843 billion this year alone. With a change in consumer behavior comes a shift in expectations一particularly around customer engagement.
Here at Escher, we carefully watch and assess any trend we believe will have an impact on Posts and postal operations. Below are three main trends we’ve identified: Adding Post functionality in third-party retail locations, increased advertising technology integration, and improved personalization. In this article, we discuss the highlights of each trend and explain why they are relevant even beyond this year.
What if you could buy candy, soft drinks, and stamps, send a letter, and return an item all at the same location in one transaction? With Universal ePOS, that dream of convenience becomes a reality. Universal ePOS solutions connect directly to retailers’ existing payment devices or POS systems, giving Posts the ability to offer full postal service functionality一parcel drop-off and pick-up, flat rate parcel shipments, Click n’ Ship and more一at any third-party retailer. For customers, this makes trips to the grocery store, petrol station, or mini-mart more productive and efficient.
Besides a much-improved customer experience, Universal ePOS greatly benefits retailers and Posts. Offering postal services in-store garners retailers more foot traffic, and ultimately, more revenue. From the Post’s perspective, Universal ePOS significantly reduces fixed costs since they no longer have to deal with new post office leases, or require extra hardware and maintenance, or new staff. Plus, Universal ePOS immediately expands a Post’s network, allowing for more flexibility around logistics.
Although some people may think direct mail marketing is dead, they are severely mistaken. According to Forbes, U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to earn $2,095 worth of sold goods一a 1,300% return on their investment. In the U.K., 60% of consumers say direct mail keeps brands top of mind, so it’s not surprising that even B2B companies are hopping on the direct mail train. Nearly 20% of B2B marketers’ budget is assigned to direct mail marketing and printed advertising.
To capitalize on this trend, many businesses are adopting ad tech strategies like augmented reality and video-enhanced printing. Direct mail with augmented reality has digital graphics that display when activated by a smartphone camera. This adds an element of intrigue and pushes consumers to physical stores or websites. Similarly, video-enhanced printing leverages QR codes to take customers from a page in a magazine to a product page on a website. Both ad tech strategies make receiving direct mail a fun experience and encourage consumers to interact with brands. These innovations breathe life and renewed excitement back into the direct mail space. Posts should watch this trend and consider ways to support organizations that are embracing these new options.
Of course, implementing just any direct mail marketing tactic won’t work. These days, consumers expect a degree of personalization, tailored to their needs and wants. Posts therefore might consider assisting large brands with improving their targeting capabilities. Gleaning these insights based on real-time analytics across a Post’s entire network can support not just postal operators, but also partners like third-party retailers in making data-driven decisions. And aggregate patterns like seasonality, popular PUDO sites, and app engagement rates are useful to companies in creating personalized mail experiences.
Other new technologies like near-field communication (NFC), IP targeting, and location targeting, have burst onto the scene as well. Using short radio waves, NFC microchips in a sticker or a product label initiate personalized digital content directly on a consumer’s smartphone. IP targeting transforms mailing lists into digital address lists that retailers can utilize for omnichannel campaigns, and location targeting allows retailers to send mail to new audiences based on areas they shop, work, or play.
Improving the customer experience is critical to any Post’s success. More than ever, customers want to limit their time at the post office, get excited by direct mail, and learn about new products and opportunities that will benefit them, specifically. Posts that offer a unique combination of Universal ePOS, support the growth in ad tech integration, as well as improved targeting will become indispensable resources to the general public and retailers alike.
Keep up with all the new Post trends by visiting Escher Group’s blog today.