The pandemic was a not-so-subtle reminder that our world—and thus, customer needs—are constantly changing. And with consumer habits driving the postal industry, it’s especially important to stay on top of the newest technology, strategy, and trends. To get (and stay) ahead of the curve, we sought opinions and insights from over 150 respondents across 70 national post offices around the world. We collated this information into digestible, actionable feedback you can put to use in your organization right now, and it’s all available in our 2021 Future of Posts report.
In this report, you’ll learn about postal operators’ plans surrounding automation, new areas of investment, point-of-sales channels, future network strategy, and more. This blog post will be the first in a series to highlight the most relevant and useful findings of our survey. Read on to understand the top trends and priorities in 2021.
It comes as no surprise that digital transformation stood out as a key trend among survey respondents, with 63% of Posts citing it as one of their top three investments over the next one to three years. During the pandemic, people began to exclusively shop online. The resulting e-commerce boom made people more and more accustomed to digital communications, accelerating the need for Posts to follow suit. People expect to track parcels on their phones, print shipping labels at home, and self-serve at kiosks, parcel lockers, and more.
For a business model historically focused on letter mail, switching to a parcel-based business presented delivery challenges as well. This year, many postal operators are continuing to invest in the operational aspects of parcel delivery, particularly in the last mile. In fact, 58% of respondents listed the last mile as one of their top three investments. Improved parcel handling, route optimization, automation, and track and trace functionality – all of which support last-mile delivery – were noted as key investment priorities as well. These planned delivery enhancements also positively impact the customer experience too while streamlining post operations.
Additionally, delivery upgrades go hand in hand with digital transformation. Together, they contribute to greater efficiency and lower overall costs, helping recoup pandemic losses or other setbacks. While digital transformation, last-mile delivery, and cross-border e-commerce are the top 3 investment priorities across the board, there are interesting differences in how regions invest in those areas. In EMEA, digital transformation is a much higher investment priority than everywhere else; 54% of postal operators in EMEA listed it as a top priority, versus 31% in the rest of the world. On the other hand, customer experience (37% vs. 26%), domestic e-commerce (37% vs. 16%), and parcel track and trace (35% vs. 15%) were more than twice as important for respondents in the rest of the world when compared to EMEA.
Similar to past Future of Post Reports, postal operators believe e-commerce will have the greatest impact on the industry over the next five years: 8.9 on a scale of 1 – 10. To keep up, Posts need a solid self-service and supply chain strategy. Furthermore, 73% of Posts are focused on automation over the next 12 months. Combined with improved track and trace technology and advanced data analytics, automation can get parcels where they need to go faster. With regards to customer experience, Posts are looking to enhance mobile technology, implement parcel lockers, and roll out PUDO as ways to provide greater convenience for customers.
There are other priorities on the horizon as well, such as developing digital IDs, offering financial services, and fostering retail expansion. While investing in everything at once may not be possible, setting your sights on ways to optimize your delivery process while delighting the customer should be top of mind. And, the good news is, much of these investments will pay huge dividends in the long run.
The global pandemic brought about wide, sweeping changes in every industry, but especially Posts. Although there were clues that e-commerce would soon be the dominant form of shopping, COVID-19 expedited that transition, forcing Posts to quickly adapt to a new reality. With that comes a necessary investment in consumer-focused technology, delivery operations, and analytics to support continuous improvement across postal organizations.
As an international leader in providing technology solutions for Posts, Escher is well-equipped to gather and offer these informative insights from postal operators. We believe our fourth iteration of this report elevates important topics of interest for the entire industry.
Learn more about how Posts are preparing for this year and beyond by downloading the Future of Posts Report today.