Postal mail played a vital role during the pandemic, serving as a communication and delivery lifeline to locked-down populations. As we unwind from the restrictions of the past two years, what shape is mail in today?
Boom time for e-commerce
Online retail has been growing consistently. But in 2020, with High Streets and malls forced to close, consumers filled their online baskets like never before. According to the analyst group Mckinsey, e-commerce grew two to five times faster during the pandemic. In the UK, for example, the e-commerce share of total retail sales leapt nearly fivefold. Other countries also saw large gains, with e-commerce’s share of total retail sales in the US more than tripling, and the share doubling in both Germany and France.
The very latest analysis suggests that although this rapid growth has tailed off somewhat as bricks and mortar shops reopen, the graph is still rising. For example, in the first quarter of 2021, the number of parcels sent via Royal Mail was 19 per cent higher than in 2019.
The direct mail renaissance
E-commerce growth is not the only postal headline to emerge from the pandemic. Direct mail is also experiencing a renaissance. Reports from mail market expert Jicmail show that, although direct mail volumes dipped as the pandemic struck – with businesses understandably uncertain about how and where to allocate marketing spend – this tried and tested technique is on the rise again.
Jicmail’s Q4 2021 report shows a +17% year-on-year growth for direct mail. And the channel is proving hugely effective at driving store footfall. The report states that:
“Mail continued to cement its position at the heart of multi-channel marketing strategies by further expanding its effectiveness at driving advertiser website traffic, product and service information gathering online, and record levels of smartphone and tablet usage. While 9% of mail (across Direct Mail, Door Drops and Business Mail combined) prompted a website visit, mail also continued to record robust effects for traditional bricks and mortar retailers. With the nation managing to avoid another lockdown over Christmas, the proportion of mail driving consumers in store doubled in comparison to Q4 2020.”
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