With the advent of new and advanced communication channels, the letter writing business is virtually dead.
This admission from Postmaster General Nigel Cobham as the General Post Office (GPO) launched a new prescription delivery service at its office in Cheapside, The City.
Cobham told the gathering that the increasing reliance on information communication technology has been having such a negative impact on the mail business that the volume of mail has been declining every year, forcing the post office to find other ways to raise revenue.
“As a consequence the need to find alternative revenue streams has become critical,” the postal service official said, adding, “The service we are launching here today is part of a serious thrust by the post office to diversify the range of products and services that we offer”.
However, the Postmaster General did not go into details on the post office’s financial position, even though he said a number of changes have had to be implemented to allow it “to at least cover its expenses” in the face of “reduced mail volumes occasioned by the almost non-existence of social mail and the aggressive campaign being waged by all the large mailers to replace paper bills sent via the post with electronic bills.
“This combination of factors has already forced the post office to re-examine how it does business.
Internally several changes have taken place within the last two years. For example, processes in operations, which for decades have been performed manually, are now computerized, thus resulting in faster deliveries of registered mail, small packets and parcels,” Cobham said.
That area of the operation, he said, had grown significantly over the past two years with the increase in Internet shopping.
The new prescription delivery service aims to assist people who are unable to physically collect their medication from the pharmacy at a cost of between $10 or $15.
However, it is not available over the counter at the post office, but through the pharmacies, where individuals will pay for service delivery.
The 163-year-old organization, the headquarters to 19 post offices across the island, is partnering with Massy Stores Pharmacy and Prescription Plus on the initiative which it hopes to extend to other pharmacies, as well as the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
It is the latest move by the GPO to mitigate the impact of technology on the postal industry.
In addition to stepped up marketing of its “delivery expertise” to manufacturers, retailers and other distributors, the post office recently refurbished and redesigned the physical layout of its business centre, adding some new services.
Cobham also said it was at an advanced stage of upgrading its bill payment platform. (MM)