UK

Now you can collect stamps… and barcodes! Move by Royal Mail to improve efficiency

Royal Mail will add barcodes to stamps to improve efficiency sparking fears it is the beginning of the end for traditional design featuring the Queen

  • A pilot by Royal Mail will add barcodes to second-class stamps from March 23
  • Move is arguably the biggest change to post since Penny Black stamp in 1840
  • First barcodes will appear on 20million stamps sold to business customers

Barcodes will be added to stamps in a UK first, prompting fears it is the beginning of the end for the traditional design featuring the Queen’s head.

The move is arguably the biggest change to the way post is handled since the Penny Black stamp was introduced in May 1840.

The pilot by the Royal Mail will add unique barcodes to second-class stamps from March 23, in a bid to make the service more efficient as each individual letter can be tracked.

The first barcodes will appear on around 20million stamps sold to business customers via office supply and stationary specialist Viking Direct and the Royal Mail online shop.

The pilot by the Royal Mail will add unique barcodes to second-class stamps from March 23, in a bid to make the service more efficient as each individual letter can be tracked

It will sit alongside the main body of the stamp, separated by a simulated perforation line, and will match the stamp’s colour, as pictured.

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: ‘We are looking to transform the humble stamp so that we can offer our customers even more convenient, new services in the future.’

The traditional stamp has already been removed from large parts of the post. Royal Mail has used barcode technology printed directly on to envelopes and labels for some time.

The initiative is part of Royal Mail’s ongoing modernisation drive to boost convenience and reflect the rise of internet shopping.

An external view of the Royal Mail sign outside the Barnby Street Royal Mail Group depot, in Euston

An external view of the Royal Mail sign outside the Barnby Street Royal Mail Group depot, in Euston

Postal industry expert David Jinks, of ParcelHero, said: ‘Adding barcodes to stamps means smaller businesses can take advantage of commercial mailing rates and services to send mail-sized parcels from individuals’ homes without specialist franking machines or having to buy expensive pre-printed envelopes.’

Royal Mail said there are ‘absolutely no plans’ to make the traditional stamp featuring the Queen, created by Arnold Machin and first used in 1967, redundant.

A spokesman said stamps ‘remain a core part of Royal Mail’s business’.

In October, the Royal Mail launched a parcel pick-up service in a shake-up of the daily round. Parcel Collect has enabled postmen and postwomen to collect parcels and returns from customers for a small fee while they carry out their daily round.

The move enables online sellers and online shoppers to mail or return a pre-paid item by post from the comfort of their own home.

In November Royal Mail launched additional ‘in-flight’ delivery options which enables customers who are not going to be at home to receive their item to select alternative delivery options while the parcel is on its way, such as requesting delivery on another day or arranging to collect their items from Royal Mail Customer Service Points and Post Offices across the UK.

In December Royal Mail joined forces with a consortium of established UK drone companies to become the first nationwide UK parcel carrier to transport a parcel for recipients via an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). A delivery was made to a remote lighthouse on the Isle of Mull.

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