Have you ever wondered if that important piece of mail came today but you’re stuck at the office? You’ve been waiting for a wedding invitation, or maybe your Federal tax refund? Well, wonder no more because the U.S. Postal Service has began a service called Informed Delivery that will deliver actual letter-sized, black and white digital images of your mail pieces to you via email every morning. You can receive up to 10 scanned mail pieces that can be viewed from your email on a computer or smartphone, and additional images can be accessed via the online dashboard. The service can only scan letter-size packages at the moment, but flat-sized pieces, such as catalogues or magazines, may be added in the future. A few of the benefits of the program include:
- Allowing interaction with digital content associated with mailpiece images (such as special offers, coupons, related links).
- Real-time recognition if you are a victim of mail theft.
- Opening up new opportunities for marketers to interact with consumers.
- Seeing mail contents when out of town or on vacation.
- Ability to plan ahead to make a deposit if you know check is in mail.
Starting as a pilot program in Northern Virginia in 2014, it soon expanded to parts of California, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, and Washington D.C. And since April 14th of 2017, the program now covers most of the US, including Kansas and Missouri. There is a ZIP Code lookup tool to check if the service is available in your area on the USPS Informed Delivery web page. You can also sign up for the service from this page, which is provided at no additional cost.
Mail delivery for the USPS has dropped dramatically over the past 10 years (it handled 61.2 billion pieces of first class mail in 2016, vs 98 billion in 2006), so this is an attempt to reach Americans that are shifting to getting their information digitally. The scanning software used for the program has been in place since the 1990’s, and can now be leveraged to not only provide a service for the customer, but a unique way for marketers to reach those customers with offers and messages.