Royal Mail launches Mailmark tracking system

Jenny Roper
Monday, March 17, 2014

Royal Mail has launched the first phase of a new Mailmark system for closer tracking through its sortation and delivery system.

The service uses printed barcodes and recent upgrades to its optical recognition and sequence sortation systems, to provide reports on where individual pieces of mail are at up to five different points in the mailing process.

This is designed to give a higher level of reassurance that mail has been delivered, a more accurate indication of delivery date and to improve Royal Mail internal processes, reported head of business development Charles Nielson.

“If you’re a customer with high revenue items you want to make sure they’ve been delivered,” said Nielson. “If you send us 20,000 and we only see 19,000, you might want to know which 1,000 we haven’t seen and Mailmark gives you the chance to do that. Whereas before we could only say there were 1,000 missing.”

Mailmark will bring printed mail more into line with digital communications in terms of analysing impact, said Nielson.

“It doesn’t go as far as many digital media go but it does improve the value of mail, because it does show there’s a good chance that it’s been delivered,” he said. 

“I think there’ll be a lot of work where people say ‘if I know this mail arrived on a particular day, can I look at my responses and see what the time lag is. So if I mail someone on Thursday do they respond Friday or Saturday? Then I might know I need to staff up my call centres on a Saturday.”

The service will also help those legally obliged to prove receipt of information, such as energy companies now obliged to make customers aware of cheaper tariffs, said Nielson.

Currently the Mailmark rollout is in the ‘system learning phase’. Two projects have successfully been mailed this way, a Royal Mail HR project in February and a recent British Gas mailing.

Currently both Communisis and Opus Trust Marketing have worked on successful Mailmark mailings, with other mailing houses still at the testing stage. 

“This current phase will last for two or three months then we’ll start to push the product out a bit more,” said Nielson, reporting that Royal Mail’s aim was to have 80-90% of machineable mail part of the Mailmark system by the end of 2016.

The key challenge facing mailing houses was repurposing layouts to include the Mailmark barcodes, said Nielson.

“If you’re a small mailing house I think it’s pretty straight forwards; if you’re a big mailing house with legacy systems then perhaps it’s a little bit more complicated,” said Nielson. “Large transactional mailers have been using these systems for many years and changes aren’t necessarily easy.”

Mailmark does not add to cost of postage for Royal Mail business, advertising or bulk mail products.

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