#InsideOut - Post Office is Key to Unlocking Benefits of a Digital World

The position of the Post Office as both a physical and digital proposition offers consumers an integration of channels through which they can get the important things done. As part of our #InsideOut blog series, Post Office Communications & Corporate Affairs Director Mark Davies explains that as live experiences have prospered from the development of digital, not suffered, opening up face-to-face opportunities for consumers rather than closing them down.

Here’s an idea: a vision in which the Post Office is one of the keys to unlocking the benefits of a digital world.

The Post Office and digital are, after all, close bedfellows. If that sounds odd – a 370-year-old institution alongside a relative newcomer – consider this: the Post Office was invented to support communications and ensure a speedy flow of information (even if when the role of Master of Posts was developed, the pressing issue was ensuring that the court of Henry VIII was up to speed on developments across his kingdom).

And the digital revolution is about nothing if it is not about the sharing of information in a way that has opened up vast potential for collaboration.

Indeed, one might be seduced by the idea that the advent of digital signals the decline of the Post Office. But the mistake here is to assume that the digital world is an end in itself – when in fact it is a means to an end: a utility that makes life much easier, for sure, but not something which makes face to face contact defunct.

Indeed, as the writer Simon Jenkins has pointed out, live experiences – whether music festivals, travel or theatre – have prospered from the development of digital. The web opens up face-to-face opportunities rather than closing them down. It enables people to access the things that matter most to them. Far from being threatened by this, the Post Office is increasingly able to complement it as another enabler, helping people get important things done, travel money ordered online and picked up in the Post Office, for instance.

The potential for this role to grow is significant. The need for identity verification or assurance will become ever more important as more and more services move online. Whether you’re dealing with Government, your bank or an insurance company online, you need to be able to prove you are who you say you are. For many people, this will involve having their identity assured.

And in that area, with branches within three miles of 99% of the population, the Post Office is ideally placed to play a role here, continuing its historic role of helping people get the important things done.

Consider, for instance, the potential for the small firm, now able to sell its products worldwide because of access to the digital web, but also needing a convenient place to get those packages into the worldwide physical distribution system to fulfil that promise. For this firm, the physical Post Office with its unrivalled UK accessibility realises the promise of the web, and helps to facilitate and enable to growth in the key small business sector.

In financial services too, the Post Office offers that enabling ability to provide a physical link so cherished by customers. This element of our business is growing all the time, with an increasing synergy between its digital and physical elements.

A post-digital world is one where we have moved beyond the physical and the digital being perceived as separate, opposing concepts. It is when we accept that the physical and the digital are intertwined so that they together enable people to simply do what they want to do, or need to do. In that context, a physical Post Office intertwined with its own digital capabilities and those of its customers can be seen as a natural, thriving and desirable asset for our communities and their economies.

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