In our just released Future of Posts 2020 Report, “customer experience” was not ranked as one of the top investment priorities by our participants. However, this fact might be a little misleading. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find one element of the postal experience that doesn’t have an impact on customer experience.
For example, participants ranked technological innovation as the 3rd highest priority and this area is closely related to enhancing the customer experience. Perhaps nowhere is this more prevalent or prioritized than in point of sale (POS) channel diversification. Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic (it should be noted, this survey was conducted pre-outbreak), postal operators can still expand their services through POS diversification even, and perhaps especially, as they experience decreased traffic to traditional post offices.
There are plenty of reasons why postal operators might want to diversify their POS channels. Posts are hoping to, in whole or part, impact the customer’s experience, decrease queues, add more convenient points of engagement and more.
Traditional postal services and POS still contribute the most to current customer needs – 98% of Posts still use post office counter to serve customers. However, as more people work and stay home, so, too, will Posts need to adapt to changing customer needs.
Let’s examine some of the POS channels Posts are using now and those they are considering adding over the next twelve months and beyond.
Self-service kiosks are already a popular option for many Posts. 60% of Posts already use them, and 42% will implement more within the next year. Furthermore, of those surveyed, an overwhelming 90% of operators plan to include more kiosks at locations other than the post office. Only 63% of Posts don’t have plans to use more self-service kiosks, citing cost as the top reason.
During the next five years, most respondents intend to invest bullishly in POS. Of those plans, mobile apps are already getting adopted at an increasing rate. 50% of Posts will implement mobile apps in the next 5 years, and 42% will do so within the next 12 months.
Although only 29% will invest in it this year, PUDO is a primary postal investment. A much larger number of Posts, 48%, will look to them within the next five years. With the reality of COVID-19, we would not be surprised to see both of these numbers increase significantly.
Currently, 52% of Posts use PUDO as a point of sale option. Prolonged concerns of stolen packages and missing deliveries combined with a variable cost-structure for Posts, makes expansion via PUDO a win-win solution.
Even during the pandemic, delivery staff is a top POS for many operators. As there was a huge increase in parcel volumes this year, more staff was necessary. Whether this is a sustained need or a temporary one has yet to be seen.
Only 22% of Posts currently use mPOS within their post office with just 8% of Posts planning on adding this POS channel in the coming months. However, over the next 5 years, 31% of Posts plan to add mPOS to their channel mix. Given that the 2nd most popular reason for increasing POS channels was reducing line queues, this makes perfect sense. mPOS has helped many Posts reduce line ups by freeing clerks to service customers directly in line with a tablet.
POS diversification continues to drive innovation and provide more options to Posts who are looking for alternative and enhanced flexibility in a post-COVID world. Through innovation, the melding of technology and customer experience will provide a pathway to success for many postal operators.