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Digital mail won’t stop the presses, says Salmat

Wednesday, 21 March 2012
By Print21

The two companies that dominate the essential mail market in Australia, Salmat and Computershare, are joining together to launch a digital mail system with the aim of reducing the amount of printed statements and bills.

The traditional mail giants, who account for 80 percent of the essential mail marke in Australia, each hold a 40% stake in the new Digital Post Australia (DPA) joint venture, with 20% held by US-based software developer Zumbox. The closed system service will make mail available securely and digitally in one central online location, restricted to verified mailers and individually verified consumers linked to a physical mailing address. The competition watchdog, the ACCC, said it was not examining any anti-competitive implications from the move.

All parties involved in the joint venture stress that digital post is a complementary channel to exiting market offerings, rather than shutting down presses in the short to medium term. Salmat alone has 60% of the business-to-consumer mail market in Australia.

Grant Harrod, CEO of Salmat, sees digital postal mail as an extension of the company’s multi-channel communication strategy and in particular our focus on digital communications.

“This investment in our BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Division will complement the extensive communication services already undertaken by that business, including electronic delivery of essential mail. Our partnership with Computershare and Zumbox provides unrivalled reach to bring this innovative new service to market,” he said.

A Salmat spokesperson told Print21, “Our existing services will not be overtaken by DPA, that’s including electronic delivery that BPO does for a lot of our clients.

“Mail will continue to be a very important part of a lot of our client’s communications with their customers. In the short to medium term this joint-venture will definitely not shut down our presses.”

The concept behind the enterprise is a secure communications delivery service that users can access for PDF versions of important mail like bills, notices and statements. DPA’s research indicates that over 50% of Australians find the idea of digital postal service appealing, adding the fact that it is highly secure and free made it even more attractive to consumers.

Printing Industries
CEO, Bill Healey, finds it interesting that their research shows that only 50% of people would prefer that service. “This indicates that there is still a significant market out there for paper based mail.

“Only time will tell whether the commitment to printed mail continues. Print has its place in the market, but it will be one element of a much broader and more sophisticated communications system. It’s no surprise that Australia Post has also moved into this market,” Healey said.

He can see the enterprise providing commercial printers with a few challenges, since a number of them have moved into mailing as a service offering and they often print the material that gets mailed.

David Hynes, chairman of Digital Post Australia, believes the new service will transform the way people receive and organise all essential communications. “We are taking one of the oldest forms of communication and making it more relevant to today’s marketplace. The Australian consumer is ready for the next generation of mail delivery and the benefits it will bring will be significant and widespread for both consumers and business.

“The need to deliver physical mail isn’t going away anytime soon, but the need to deliver transactional communications online through a secure channel has evolved – and Digital Post Australia is bringing this to the market,” said Hynes.

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