In the past few decades, the postal sector has undergone some radical changes, which have primarily been driven by operational and technological transformations. The onset of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has not only added competition to the market, but has also provided public and private organizations with ample opportunities to broaden and improve their services and product range. Postal operators have responded positively to this change and have adopted postal digital solutions to improve the quality of existing services and introduce new value-added services. Therefore, having realized the potential and need for electronic services, postal operators are diversifying into different services in a digital sector, offering a wide range of products and solutions to match the competition and meet the needs of customers. However, the postal sector has not yet realized the full potential of digitalization.
This book deals with the challenges the digital age poses to the postal sector and the vast opportunities it provides to postal operators to develop new business solutions and services tailored to the needs of their customers. The book aims to analyze these opportunities and identify ways in which postal operators can benefit from the digital age and new market requirements. The chapters in this book have been contributed by experts and professionals in the postal sector. The book is structured into three broad sections: various digital dimensions; e-commerce challenges; and opportunities that postal operators run across when partnering with governments. The final chapter reflects on the developments described in the book and on the views and ideas presented by the authors.
The first section, on digital dimensions, is comprised of chapters that highlight market developments and digital developments and analyze the role postal operators can play in this area. These chapters discuss letter demand and its substitution, the emergence of the digital postal network, the concept of business models for post in the digital age, case studies, and best practices for being successful in the digital age. The chapters emphasize the need for digitalization of postal services as an opportunity to enhance the profitability in and value of the postal business and to diversify into new business areas, thereby responding to new market and customer needs.
E-commerce offers great opportunities to the postal world. The second section deals with the “e-commerce challenge” and focuses on the opportunities offered by e-commerce, as well as the obstacles and barriers that postal operators must overcome in order to be major players in this business field. This section provides insights into the role that postal operators play in supporting the growth of international e-commerce, proposing and discussing some key value propositions of postal operators. One of the key themes in this section is the shift in the paradigm of the logistic service providers in relation to the booming e-commerce industry.
Postal operators are starting to realize that close cooperation with governments, particularly in the field of digital services, could benefit postal operators and governments alike. Postal operators with expertise in various e-services, gained through adoption of digital infrastructures, are emerging as strong contenders in alliances where governments seek partners in the implementation of various digital public services. Postal operators are appearing as strategic alliance partners to governments, offering public services through their efficient and secure digital interface. The section on “partnering with governments” discusses the role of posts in the adoption and implementation of various e-government services.
The digital age has confronted the postal industry with huge challenges and ever-greater losses in their core business of letter mail. At the same time, the digital age has opened up completely new business potentials and postal services have only just started to grasp the opportunities that the digital age has opened up for them. These changes are far-reaching and disruptive, but also filled with opportunities. The last section of this book reflects on these developments, challenges, and opportunities and analyzes the ideas and views that the chapters' authors have presented. It tries to identify the unique selling propositions (USPs) that would enable posts to differentiate themselves from other service providers and offer unique and valuable services and business solutions that are tailored to the needs of today's customers. If posts succeed in creating business models that are based upon their USPs and tailored to market requirements and demands, the opportunities are considerable. The digital age, which was initially viewed by many as a threat and challenge, will finally reveal itself as the biggest opportunity the postal sector has ever seen.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank all the authors who agreed to contribute to this book and share their experience and views. We would also like to thank our publishers for their support and assistance.
Matthias Finger, Bernhard Bukovc, Muqbil Burhan