Viewpoint: Jon Ingall Partner, Archibald Ingall Stretton
Royal Mail is struggling to deal with healthy competition. Like BT and British Gas before it, this dinosaur institution has been sluggish in reacting to free market forces. And now it has had to make way for a nimbler and more intelligent contender.
Enter UK Mail, which has picked off the most lucrative parts of the business from under Royal Mail’s nose, namely high volume regular users of direct mail. And if recent results are any indicator, it’s reaping the rewards of its approach.
Royal Mail’s battle to win back the business market has not been made easier by a series of strikes. But its difficulties stem from a failure of innovation. Like any organisation that operates a monopoly for too long, Royal Mail has, I believe, become arrogant and complacent.
UK Mail’s iMail service is a prime example. Royal Mail has allowed itself to be wrongfooted by the growth of email, but UK Mail has converted a threat into an opportunity by integrating both media: iMail allows customers to send physical mail directly from their computers until 6pm and still get next day delivery. As well as speeding up delivery, iMail cuts costs and makes a significant impact on carbon emissions.
The cost of direct mail has always been a barrier to advertisers. Any company that can help reduce these costs while delivering what customers want deserves to succeed.
February 2004 UK Mail makes postal history by being the co-author of the first-ever Downstream Access agreement with Royal Mail – effectively ending 370 years of a Royal Mail monopoly.
March 2005 UK Mail is the first operator to provide an unsorted mail service to business customers. [When letters are not pre-sorted by the sender.] Sept 2006 UK Mail processes its 1 billionth item of mail.
January 2007 UK Mail wins £12m contract to deliver post for the Department of Work and Pensions after a one-year trial.
March 2007 UK Mail launches a product called Agent for Access, aimed at reducing the impact of current VAT legislation on the cost of UK Mail’s services to the financial services and charity sectors.
Sept 2007 UK Mail signs a Premium Access agreement paving the way for the development of a next day delivery service. Delivering on a postal promise timeline
October 2007 UK Mail starts using sorting machines worldwide to sort items of mail up to the size of a telephone directory.
March 2008 UK Mail trials iMail, an electronic-tophysical mail solution that provides desktopto- doormat delivery.
August 2008 UK Mail’s high security Disguised Mail solution is launched, where high value mail is sent through the post disguised as plain letters.
Nov 2008 iMail is officially launched as hundreds of souvenir letters are sent to industry regulators, customers, green activist groups and the press to commemorate its first day of service.
April 2009 UK Mail reports processing an average of 11 million mail itemsa day.
July 2009 UK Mail launches iMail Postcards & Appointment cards. As an alternative provider, UK Mail is now the largest operator in the UK handling up to 16 million items every day.
October 2009 UK Mail’s parent company Business Post Group renames itself UK Mail Group.