For the second year in a row, over 4,000 people came together at the National Postal Forum (NPF). This year’s conference in San Antonio marked the 50th anniversary of the NPF. Things have changed a lot since 1968, and the 3 words that sum up the US Postal Service’s (USPS) message throughout the show were: informed, integrated and disruptive.
In her keynote address, Postmaster General (PMG) Megan Brennan challenged attendees to reimagine mail. While e-presentment and e-pay slowly erode First-Class Mail volumes, the combined use of Informed Delivery and Informed Visibility are disrupting marketing channels. Physical mail – with real-time data on delivery and responses – is becoming the best tool to seal the deal. As companies use omni-channel communications to reach their customers, mail occupies the space at the intersection of physical and digital.
PMG Brennan’s message was carried forward by Isaac Cronkite, Vice President of Enterprise Analytics, and Jakki Strako, the Acting Chief Customer and Marketing Officer. The promise of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) is being fulfilled – at the operations and customer level. The IMB, combined with geospatial data, surface visibility data, scan data, and eDoc data is creating a mountain of information – a mountain that is growing at 4 TB per minute.
But it’s not just the volume of the data, but the tools that allow the USPS and mailers to mine for the valuable nuggets that will drive change. USPS Operations is able to gain immediate knowledge of ground conditions, and then reroute mail and assets. This was most noticeable during the storms in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last fall.
For customers, this represents a tipping point to magnify and multiply the value of mail. Informed Delivery builds on the emotional connectivity to the mailbox, extending the “mail moment”. The technology adds a mobile dimension to mail, driving people to online stores – where over 80% of Americans made a purchase in the last 30 days.
And all those purchases need to be delivered. A noticeable difference at this year’s NPF was the emphasis on parcels. The trade show floor had more vendors with solutions for parcels – inbound and outbound. From tracking systems to intelligent lockers to consolidation services, there was a lot to take in.
The Berkshire Company doesn’t endorse any vendor or product, but we still get excited about innovative approaches to problems. As I was walking through the show, I was asked by Pat Deacy of Chicago Tag & Label to learn about their latest product – a multi-part shipping label. In one pass, packers can apply a shipping label, packing list and return label. A convenient timesaver for shipper and recipient.
As in the past, attendees took advantage of the educational sessions. Whether it was 8:00 in the morning, or the last session on the last day, people actively participated in the classes. As both an instructor and a student, audience contribution is important to the success of the lesson. People were interested and involved, asking questions and challenging assumptions.
We normally kick off NPF as the sponsor of a Habitat for Humanity build day. However, harsh weather made site conditions unsafe, so the build was cancelled. We gathered the volunteers together for a networking and “thank-you” breakfast. A donation was made to the Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio, and we’re all looking forward to helping next year.
That’s right, even while we unpack from this year’s NPF, we’re starting to plan and prepare for NPF 2019 in Indianapolis! We hope to see you there.
Congratulations to the NPF staff for a successful show to celebrate their 50th anniversary!