The Current Postal Landscape
There are many existing challenges Posts face, such as escalating costs, enhancing the customer experience, limited operating hours of Post-owned branches, dealing with increasing parcel volumes and of course, competition that has intensified greatly over the years. And we’re familiar with these, but the challenges on the horizon perhaps deserve our greatest attention.
Customers should have more flexibility to complete their postal transactions – to begin a transaction online and complete it in store or at a kiosk for example. And finally, perhaps now more than ever, Posts need an easy way to diversify services to bring in new sources of revenues to ensure long-term sustainability. But how is this possible? How can Posts increase revenue when it seems they’ll experience a corresponding increase in costs?
Furthermore, how do Posts:
Embrace the Agile Retail Network
One of the best ways to do this in the current environment is to fully embrace what we call the agile retail network. When you transition to an agile retail network:
How do Posts transition to an agile retail network? Below are the four key components that are required.
Unified commerce. This is a term many of us our familiar with and it’s the idea of providing a seamlessly integrated platform that delivers a consistent experience and data to your customers, regardless of the physical or digital channel they choose. Unified commerce is what enables the customer to start a transaction on one channel and complete the transaction on a different channel. This can be a powerful competitive differentiator too, allowing customers to create their own journey based on their circumstances, location, and preferences.
A unified commerce framework is:
Consider for a moment, any large third-party retail environment – the biggest convenience store chain you can think of. Now picture a partnership with that convenience store chain, and a single, unified POS system in that store that handles both general merchandise items from the store as well as your Post’s postal transactions. Imagine, as a postal operator, that this is incredibly easy to set-up and scale across all these convenience stores in your country. As you’ll quickly come to realize, this Universal ePOS solution, expands your flexibility as well as the scope of your postal retail network. This is why such a Universal ePOS solution is a core component in your agile retail network.
It too is enabled by micro services with a third-party POS. So, that large convenience store franchise that your Post partnered with in this scenario, can leverage the Universal ePOS solution on their existing POS systems or payment terminals, processing all your Post’s transactions along with general store merchandise in a single transaction when the customer checks out. This completely transforms the front of store check-out area at that large retail chain. But why stop there?
You can also partner with smaller convenience store chains or petrol stations as well and even leverage the solution for seasonal pop-up shops in busy malls.
So as you can imagine, this is an incredibly cost-efficient way to rapidly expand your Post’s retail network, reaching more customers and driving more revenue for your Post.
POS-as-a-Service, another critical component of the agile retail network, is a subscription-based model of delivering postal services. You can think of this as Post Office on-Demand. Posts pay a monthly amount and receive all the hardware, software, maintenance, and support needed to deliver postal services in any retail environment. So by removing the traditional upfront fixed costs of hardware, software, office leases, dedicated communications lines and more, it is yet another way for Posts to rapidly expand postal services across a country, reaching far more customers, generating more revenue, at a fraction of the cost if you were to go the traditional expansion route.
The POS-as-a-Service solution works well in delivering postal services over the counter, mobile, or self-serve kiosks. Post office functionality can be set up in less than a day, you can swap out hardware or software to meet your requirements, you can scale it up or down based on demand, and more. This type of POS-as-a-Service can be used in traditional third-party retail environments, but it too could be used to set up pop-up post offices in a mall during peak season, or in a disaster recovery scenario.
What could be easier then placing your order for this POS-as-a-Service online and when it arrives, you open the box, turn on the device, it automatically downloads everything it needs, and you’re ready to start processing postal transactions. This is the promise of POS-as-a-Service, and it’s the reason it should be part of every Post’s plans as you build out an agile retail network.
Self-Service Hybrid Model
And lastly, the agile retail network incorporates a self-service hybrid model which is really the idea of embracing multiple devices and form factors. Depending on your requirements, perhaps your Post doesn’t require a full-scale ATM-style self-service kiosk within the walls of your corporate post office. Perhaps a few self-service tablets mounted on the wall or counter area, or as a customer display unit on the standard POS terminal could work as well. Using this self-service hybrid model, a Post could still process many transactions such as picking up or dropping off parcels or Click2Ship, without the need for a full POS terminal. So more customers can be served, generating more revenue, but at a fraction of the cost.
Increase Revenue While Reducing Costs by Embracing the Agile Retail Network
It’s entirely possible to increase revenue while reducing costs, and you can do so by embracing what we call the agile retail network. Leveraging a framework that supports unified commerce that enables seamlessly integrated physical and digital channels, expanding your retail network using a variable cost model made possible with Universal ePOS and POS-as-a-Service, and leveraging a self-service hybrid model, are four powerful approaches you can use to grow revenue while keeping costs down.
By embracing the agile retail network, you achieve a highly desirable outcome for your Post. You now have a unified customer experience, that is seamless, engaging, and convenient. You also have new point-of-sale solutions and services that improves ease-of-use for retail partners and significantly reduces IT run costs. You have a way to rapidly expand your postal retail network to meet evolving customer demands. And in the process, you have transformed into a highly cost-efficient, yet responsive Post because you’ve transitioned from a fixed-cost structure to variable.