Signed, Sealed, but Not Delivered

As online shopping continues to surge in popularity, have you ever wondered what happens to all those lovely parcels sent in the post which for one reason or another can’t be delivered?

Browsing the papers at the weekend, one headline instantly caught my attention.

According to the article, millions of pounds are being wasted on undelivered post after it emerged Royal Mail shreds almost 300,000 items each week – quite astounding.

Return to Sender

The article reveals how Royal Mail sends over 40,000 letters, parcels and packages to its National Return Letter Centre every day. Staff at the centre do their best to trace the senders, and at a last resort, the failed deliveries are then shredded. Any valuable goods are auctioned with Royal Mail keeping the proceeds (last year, this amounted to nearly £1 million).

Although the sums involved are very small in terms of its annual turnover, Royal Mail says the proceeds are used to recoup part of the cost of the centre – which actually employs over 140 people and costs Royal Mail a staggering £4 million a year.

The figures follow a report from the freedom of information request which revealed 15 million items were sent to the centre in Belfast for destruction last year.

Failing to Deliver

It should come as no surprise that the majority of undelivered post is business mail. Beyond postage costs, this undelivered mail means extra cost and a damaged reputation for your company. When business-critical mail and transactional mail such as legal documents, cheques, invoices and statements go undelivered, delayed payments or reduced customer satisfaction impact on costs, revenue and cashflow. Not only are companies wasting money on postage and printing, not to mention the waste of paper products and natural resources, they’re missing opportunities to communicate with customers and prospects – and ultimately grow their business.

While the quantity of letters sent is falling, the number of parcels being posted is growing due to the rapid flourish of online shopping sites like eBay and Amazon. And with many retailers now focusing on their delivery process as a key way to ensure customer retention, the reputational damage of a failed delivery can be unquantifiable.

There is nothing more damaging to a reputation than dealing with an irate customer who has taken the day off to wait for a delivery that never turns up. It’s an expensive problem to put right and the reputational damage can be irreversible.

Stamping out the Problem

Royal Mail highlights incorrect and outdated addresses as one of the main reasons for post not reaching its intended destination. As a supplier of data validation, it is so frustrating to hear easily preventable wastage is occurring with something as simple as data maintenance.