Review of Marketforce’s European Post and Parcel Services Conference

Now in its 17th year, Marketforce’s European Post and Parcel Services, is the go-to event for the postal sector, attracting leading figures from the world’s top postal organisations to discuss the key issues affecting post today. Last week, I attended the event for the first time to gain a deeper understanding to where the industry is heading.

For me, Brody Buhler from Accenture’s overview of the market really stood out, but there were plenty of others who shared his levels of optimism about the future and determination to respond to the various opportunities and challenges. Despite all the news about the demise of mail, the overall opinion from the event was that mail can still be profitable. Here are some of my key takeaways from the event:

Mail no longer has the biggest revenue potential

Accenture’s latest research highlights that non-mail revenue now exceeds mail revenue for the top postal service companies. The rise in ecommerce is producing a fresh stream of revenue from parcel volumes that has the potential to grow faster than mail ever did, however the average growth of just under 5% between 2011 and 2012, is less than the overall growth in the parcels market, suggesting that other courier businesses are growing their market share too.

Importance of offering a diverse range of products and services

Diversification was a common theme throughout the event. The top performing postal organisations are aggressively transforming their businesses, taking full advantage of their networks to provide: parcels, logistics, banking, insurance, ecommerce and other digital services.

Digital as a channel

Digital channels are playing a wider role in postal services with technology such as Blippar, which transforms physical mailing into a digital experience, helping to bridge the gap between the traditional offline and online worlds.

The consensus is that whilst digital mail is not the answer for the posts, digital as a channel makes total sense.  The key, however, will be for the posts to transform from a business model where there is little relationship with the end customer, to one where the customer is pivotal to the business.

According to Accenture there are three areas of interest in this space:

  1. Identity services – using the trusted brand and reach of the posts to improve UX and reduce fraud in ecommerce.  La Poste’s IDN service was a good example of this.
  2. Mobile Commerce – reducing the number of clicks to improve user experience in the delivery and data capture processes.
  3. Analytics – taking advantage of the huge volumes of data in the posts to predict behaviour.

There’s still a place for direct mail

Despite the growth of technology and the internet, direct mail still has an important role to play in the marketing mix, and executed properly it can be highly effective. Unlike many forms of marketing, direct-mail marketing allows you to create highly targeted campaigns that can yield a great rate of return. The message from posts is very clear – direct mail is here to stay!

What did you think of European Post and Parcel Services? What were your biggest findings? Please feel free to share your thoughts below.