From Pony Express to Technology & Marketing Champions

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 National Postal Forum (NPF) in Nashville.  Thinking of Nashville and its rich history in Country Music, I can’t help but think about the USPS and its history. Starting with the Pony Express, to rail car mail sorting, to barcode scanning technology; if you really think about it the transition of USPS through time has been astounding.
The 2016 NPF theme, Tune in to Success, is certainly fitting as the USPS continues to change and evolve by tuning into the needs of their customers. Here are some things I heard this week that has brought me a new sense of assurance in the trajectory of USPS.
The USPS has been diligent in listening to customers and their needs for capabilities and service enhancements.  They have been extremely responsive to the needs of marketers and advertisers by changing the nature and use of mail to become more flexible in order to build brand awareness.
A pilot program in New York City called “Informed Delivery” is intended to bring value to both marketers and consumers by capturing images of mail pieces as they pass through the barcode sorters.  Consumers can enroll through to receive a daily email of images for mail pieces they will receive that day.  Marketers can elect to add links to these images that will allow consumers to click and be redirected to a website, landing page, video, or other web based information.
There are promotions that help bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds. Creating campaigns that use printed media to entice the consumers to experience new online methods to respond and make purchases on line are beginning to take hold.  Such promotions highlight the connection of print to digital with QR codes, Near Field Communications, Augmented Reality, and Video in print. Still others elicit a sensory response to mail pieces, be it the use of variable color, or print finishing technologies, or dimensional popups, all to extend the mail moment and drive response.
Internally the USPS is also working rapidly to deploy technological advancements under a program labeled “Informed Visibility” or IV.  This initiative is intended to provide more visibility within the USPS operations to forecast operation demands and identify bottlenecks in order to fix issues before they negatively affect service performance standards.  In addition, IV also allows for the consolidation or linkage of what was previously many silo’ed data systems.
I am very excited about how the USPS has engaged technology to not only enhanced their operations, but also to provide its customers more relevant value.  I am encouraged that there is change in the wind that will allow the USPS to remain relevant for decades ahead as they build a culture that embraces change and endeavors to meet the demands of their customers.

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