In the profitability equation for posts and delivery organizations, service optimization and cost-cutting are usually the first items on the executive’s minds. Operational excellence is a prerequisite for growth through reliable, predictable service. From there, revenue growth is the KPI that can revitalize a business, attract new investment, and enable additional measures to increase profitability.
In our recent article “The Top 4 KPIs for Postal and Parcel Organizations,” we presented the most important metric categories driving performance: profitability, customer experience, service, and delivery. This article will focus on the revenue component of post and delivery profitability.
Use Data to Do More With Existing Channels
Is your parcel, post or delivery organization maximizing the capture and utilization of CRM (marketing, sales, customer service), operations, transportation, and delivery data? Numbers on performance, efficiency, and perhaps most importantly, customers are at your disposal. The thousands or millions of customers you deliver to are all capable of deciding to use your service versus a competing one, and it’s in your best interest to understand as much about them as possible, leveraging that data to reach them with the right messaging at the right time.
Postal and delivery environments are data-rich by nature—they handle huge volumes of mailpieces and parcels, delivering them to equally large numbers of recipients. Antiquated pencil and paper processes must give way to digital recording, through to automated data capture for every touchpoint through the process: acceptance, in-route, processing, delivery, etc.
What then becomes of this captured data? In top-performing companies, it’s processed at scale to obtain business intelligence. Advanced business analytics driven by statistical models and machine learning are the toolsets and technologies custom to each organization that allows the processing of data for decision-making. When performance is recorded over time, analytics and machine learning can help identify and resolve issues proactively and may also make prescriptive analysis available to organizations to solve the problems. Commonly studied challenges include production bottlenecks, seasonal demand, improving workflow efficiency, and reducing error frequency. Optimizing the back-of-house is usually the first order of business in stabilizing postal revenues– growth in revenue can come from better communication with customers, and analytics can help achieve that.
In a multi-year engagement with the USPS, Assurety Consulting tackled a single-source customer database that needed upgrade by linking the digital data of customers and digital IDs. We expanded the sources feeding this database from three to 36, greatly improving its suitability for targeted marketing campaigns and personalization. The resulting increases in per-customer order value show that improved marketing of existing services development of new personalized services and products that meet customer demand are pathways to revenue growth. Learn more about the full stack of technologies that drove this effort in our case study, and consider whether your own customer record-keeping and personalization are reaching their full potential.
Make it Easy to Use Your Services
“Mobile-first” is a term that started appearing in design circles around 2012, a few years after the emergence of smartphones for the everyman. Six years later, in a time where consumer’s lives are increasingly dominated by smartphones, mobile-first sounds less like a vanguard strategy and more like common-sense. But, in practice, the mobile experience many companies offer to users is sub-par if extant.
Every customer your organization delivers to either owns, has a family member who owns or will own a smartphone at some point in their relationship with you. Conveniences like transactions, package tracking, and order management should all be available to your customers on any device they choose. To extend the point, it’s time to stop thinking about these services as conveniences. People are now building their itineraries and lives around the utility of their smartphones. A broken mobile experience is a bad customer experience and a threat to your top line.
Are there services you provide that are not available digitally? Updating these and distributing their access through web-based portals should be a priority, and the design of these services should be feature-complete across all device categories.
Develop New Opportunities
Launched April 14, 2017, the USPS’s Informed Delivery hybrid mail service has been given a prominent rollout across the US. Informed Delivery allows consumers to see a virtual preview (via email or smartphone app) of incoming mailpieces and packages. A USPS marketing campaign surrounding the new service shows average people describing the myriad benefits of being able to see their mail before it arrives.
Informed Delivery can be monetized through advertising. It gives mailers an opportunity to attach a digital message or offering to a physical mailpiece, doubling the touchpoints for any given direct mail campaign and opening a new venue for creative marketers to create hybrid offline-to-online experiences for consumers. This solution multiplies brand impressions to consumers, increasing ROI and directly impacting the top line.
Hybrid Mail is not a brand-new concept, but Informed Delivery marks a milestone in its maturity and is the largest implementation yet, with an estimated US volume of 400 million mail pieces annually, and currently serving about 10 million US households as of May 2018.
Outside of hybrid mail, your post or mailing org can consider piloting new services like same-day delivery or delivery of perishables—this is especially true in markets with a potential for first-mover advantage, or in ones where regulation is less strict. The post office itself often represents an untapped revenue stream. Consider value-added services like packaging or community-based services that can be delivered through the brick-and-mortar presence.
The post or delivery company which best utilizes mass volumes of data covers all the bases on the mobile experience, and continually seeks new ways to exceed customer expectations is the one on the path to revenue growth.