Postal operators are introducing a tracked letter service, allowing customers to track and trace letters just like a parcel.
It’s a value added service that sits between an ordinary letter and a registered letter. Let’s have a look at what Posti (Finland) and Australia Post are doing.
Posti: Plus Sticker
In March, Posti will launch the Plus Sticker, providing traceability for ordinary letters.
“Consumers have wished to have the tracking system available for ordinary letters, too.” - Noora Laaksonen, Vice President, Consumer Mail Business Unit at Posti.
The Plus Sticker isn’t just about tracking items - it’s also about speed. From March, the delivery speed of ordinary letters will change: letters will mainly be delivered within four working days. (This change is pursuant to the Finnish Postal Act that entered into force in 2017.)
A letter attached with a Plus Sticker will be delivered within two working days.
The Plus Sticker is affixed to the letter next to the traditional stamp. (Postage is still required - the Plus Sticker doesn’t include postage.) The sender can follow the letter’s journey to the recipient in the OmaPosti application or Posti’s web service.
The Plus Sticker can be attached to all ordinary domestic letters. The Plus Sticker supplementary service works throughout Finland, excluding the Åland Islands. Letters with the Plus Sticker can be lodged at a Posti outlet or Posti mailbox.
The sticker will be priced at EUR 1.50.
Australia Post: Domestic letter with tracking*
Australia Post is trialling the “Domestic letter with tracking*” service. The trial started in mid-2018, and has been extended to mid-2019.
Domestic letter with tracking* tracks articles the same was as the Registered Post service, with the difference being a scan on delivery rather than a signature on delivery.
While Posti has a tracking sticker, Australia Post has chosen to use prepaid envelopes. (See main image above.)
DL-size prepaid envelopes cost $2.20. (A standard domestic stamp costs $1.) For an extra 50c, customers can send their tracked letters priority, which in theory makes the letter up to two days faster than the standard letter service.
The Domestic letter with tracking* prepaid envelopes aren’t available for purchase at all post offices, as the product is still in trial. The envelopes are also being sold on the Australia Post eBay Store and Australia Post’s own online store.
The number of tracking scans will vary depending on how (and where) the item is lodged, processed and delivered.
A scan on lodgement, if lodged over the counter at a post office
A scan at a processing facility, if processed by automated mail processing equipment; and
A scan on delivery, where a tracking scan can be captured.
In theory, all delivery drivers and post offices have scanning equipment to allow for a delivery scan.
So what’s the point?
It looks like both Posti and Australia Post have come to the same conclusion: there’s customer demand for a tracked letter service that offers visibility of postal items without demanding the face-to-face handover of registered letters.
Will a tracked letter service (priced between the standard and registered products) dilute registered post volumes? It’s certainly a risk, although most likely each postal operator has forecast that tracked letter volumes won’t merely cannibalise registered volumes but create new demand.
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