‘Snail mail’ still run­ning smoothly in the Philip­pines

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - NATHANIEL R. MEL­I­CAN

Lovers may have switched to text mes­sag­ing and email to keep in touch, but “snail mail” re­mains big busi­ness, ac­cord­ing to the chief of the Philip­pine Postal Corp. (Philpost).

Post­mas­ter Gen­eral Ma. Jose­fina de la Cruz said the gov­ern­men­towned and con­trolled cor­po­ra­tion man­ag­ing the coun­try’s postal sys­tem posted a net in­come of 640.43 mil­lion pe­sos (US$14 mil­lion) last year, the bulk of which came from “snail mail,” so called be­cause it takes mail­men sev­eral days to hand­de­liver the let­ters and doc­u­ments na­tion­wide.

“Many peo­ple think snail mail is dead, but our big­gest busi­ness is still snail mail,” De la Cruz said on the side­lines of Philpost’s 23rd an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions.

“You’d be amazed at the va­ri­ety of mail we re­ceive and de­liver,” she added.

The Philpost head said about 80 per­cent of the com­pany’s in­come come from the tra­di­tional mail op­er­a­tions, up­end­ing the com­mon no­tion that text mes­sag­ing and email, among other new com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies, have caused the demise of snail mail.

In fact, the Philpost 2014 an­nual re­port in­di­cated that the num­ber of mail posted last year in­creased to 88.48 mil­lion, up 44.56 per­cent from mail in 2013. The com­pany also de­liv­ered 133.25 mil­lion mail na­tion­wide last year, a 12.75 per­cent in­crease over 2013 fig­ures. The in­crease ex­plains Philpost’s net in­come of 640.43 mil­lion pe­sos last year, from 588.96 mil­lion pe­sos in 2013.

Com­mer­cial Post

The in­crease in mail vol­ume can be at­trib­uted mainly to the in­creas­ing cor­re­spon­dence be­tween over­seas Filipino work­ers and their friends, fam­i­lies and col­leagues in the Philip­pines, De la Cruz said.

She noted, how­ever, that per­sonal cor­re­spon­dence, such as love let­ters and greet­ing cards from all parts of the world have shrunk in num­ber and now ac­count for only 18 per­cent of Philpost’s de­liv­er­ies.

“Nowa­days the bulk of what we re­ceive and de­liver is com­mer­cial post — mar­ket­ing brochures, state­ments of ac­count, and even credit cards and check­books. The na­ture of items be­ing sent has changed, but there are still items be­ing sent (or mailed),” she said.

Di­ver­si­fy­ing

Other sig­nif­i­cant sources of busi­ness are the courts, which rou­tinely send out and re­ceive ju­di­cial plead­ings through reg­is­tered mail, a sys­tem that al­lows them to track when a plead­ing has been sent or re­ceived by a re­spon­dent.

But although the mail busi­ness re­mains strong, Philpost is bent on di­ver­si­fy­ing the ser­vices it of­fers in a bid to rein­vent it­self as a com­plete lo­gis­tics so­lu­tions provider, the Philpost chief said.

Last year, it launched a next­day par­cel and cargo de­liv­ery ser­vice. The com­pany re­launched the ser­vice this year to show­case the 50 de­liv­ery vans it re­cently ac­quired, all of them equipped with global po­si­tion­ing sys­tem (GPS) bea­cons that are ex­pected to make mail de­liv­ery quicker and more ef­fi­cient.

“Our vans are also ready for e-com­merce de­liv­er­ies,” De la Cruz said.

The post­mas­ter gen­eral said the com­pany was also in­tent on cap­i­tal­iz­ing on its over 1,300 post of­fices na­tion­wide to pro­vide un­prece­dented last-mile de­liv­ery ser­vices.

“Our na­tion­wide net­work is un­matched, which means Philpost can re­ally excel in last-mile de­liv­ery. We are (also) con­vert­ing ex­cess spa­ces in re­gional of­fices into ware­houses,” she said, adding that pri­vate com­pa­nies can now view the com­pany’s stor­age ca­pac­ity for

pos­si­ble use in their busi­nesses.

Postal Money Or­der

Al­ready, pri­vate en­ter­prises and sev­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies, among them the Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment, are tap­ping Philpost’s ware­houses in the Bi­col re­gion and in Min­danao for their lo­gis­tics re­quire­ments.

Philpost has also inked a deal with the Depart­ment of Health for the postal de­liv­ery of medicines to the bar­rios and has ini­ti­ated a re­mit­tance ser­vice un­der its postal money or­der busi­ness, us­ing its more than 300 post of­fices con­nected to the In­ter­net to trans­fer cash in­stantly.

Ir­re­place­able Part

De la Cruz said the lo­gis­tics and money or­der busi­nesses of Philpost con­sti­tute just a small part of its busi­ness for now, but the com­pany was bullish about the growth of th­ese ser­vices in the com­ing years.

Still, the Philpost chief said snail mail re­mains an ir­re­place­able part of the com­pany’s busi­ness.

“Even with so­cial me­dia, noth­ing can to­tally re­place tra­di­tional snail mail,” De la Cruz said. “If you are court­ing me, I won’t say ‘yes’ if you don’t write and send me a (love) let­ter.”

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