Worth the wait?
Mailmark is Royal Mail’s newest franking mark. Introduced in 2014, the 2D barcode takes the place of a stamp or existing frank
mark and contains data which makes it easier for Royal Mail to process mail.
Royal Mail has invested heavily in this new technology and customer migration to the Mailmark option is growing. One of the biggest reasons to upgrade is cheaper franking – Mailmark users make a saving of at least 2p per letter compared to the standard franking tariff.
Another attraction has always been the promise of useful new services for customers. But have these actually materialised?
The short answer is ‘Yes. But in a trickle’.
When Mailmark was introduced, Royal Mail also launched a Pre-Pay Reply service not previously available to the franking channel. This gives users the option to include a franked pre-paid reply envelope in a mailing to encourage customers and prospects to respond. End users can post the reply paid envelope in any post box.
David Beirne, Neopost’s Royal Mail Products and Services Manager, says a number of sectors have found this service particularly useful, including estate agents, solicitors, financial advisors and councils.
This July, Royal Mail is introducing improvements to the Business Mail Advance (BMA) process, which it says will save franking customers even more time in the mailroom.
BMA offers additional postal discounts for high volume users. Organisations that send 500 or more letters in one batch and meet certain requirements for the preparation and presentation of mail can obtain a discount from the franking tariff. Discounts are based on volume so the more letters sent in one transaction, the bigger the discount.
David Beirne says the re-worked product will improve the user experience and that customers who have trialled the service have recorded high levels of satisfaction.
“There will be no need to log your order on an Online Business Account, no need to create a sales order or count the mail,” he said. “The pricing and rebate process will be managed through the franking account held with your franking supplier so there will be no back office handling or banking of cheques. It also offers improved transparent invoicing.”
In addition to Royal Mail derived solutions, franking machine manufacturers are developing their own services compatible with Mailmark franking machines.
For example, Pitney Bowes provides an additional cloud-based solution, INVIEW, which captures information from the franking machine and shares it back to clients. This enables businesses to review data to help them improve their postal efficiencies and maximise their postal budgets.
Colin Forrest, Director, Demand Generation, SMB Mailing Solutions Europe at Pitney Bowes, says that other Mailmark services will be developed in the future. “Pitney Bowes continues to work with Royal Mail on potential solutions for the MailMark franking channel and is confident new products and services will continue to evolve, which will harness the MailMark technology Royal Mail has deployed,” he said.
Franking machine users who made the switch to Mailmark expecting to be able to enjoy a raft of new mailing services on top of reduced postal tariffs might have been disappointed with the results so far.
The good news is that more products are in the pipeline. The bad news is that neither Royal Mail nor franking machine manufacturers are currently able to comment on what they might be or when users can expect to see them.