Several years ago, I evaluated mobile apps that let people send postcards because we are a leading print & mail fulfillment provider in this space. One thing became abundantly clear - mobile users don’t tend to keep many physical addresses for their friends, relatives and acquaintances on their devices.
This presents a growing inconvenience for an increasingly mobile-centric world. How can someone quickly and conveniently send a physical card, letter or package from a mobile device without the need to ask the recipient for their physical address (and spoil a surprise) or hunt it down some other way and then enter it into a small mobile device?
Companies have attempted to solve this problem with different solutions and have been met with limited success. One reason may be the trust factor. Specifically, who are you willing to trust with the combination of your preferred email address, telephone number and home address in the public arena? Obviously, businesses and organizations of all sizes and types have this information for many customers and constituents; especially when customers want online billing or promotional email offers. However, I’m referring to a different resource because many companies can’t, don’t and won’t release the information publicly.
When it comes to a public resource - what I call the physemail vault (pronounced fizzy mail), who would you really trust? Who would you trust to authorize someone using a mobile device to send you a card, letter or package conveniently and without revealing your home address to them? Some federal agencies like the NSA and IRS have a mountain of data but they don’t have the trust factor nor do they have the mission to provide this type of resource. What about private companies like Facebook® and Google®? Believe it or not, in 2013, a poll of more than 1,000 people showed that people trust the NSA and IRS with their private data more than these two companies.
One Step Closer to the Physemail Vault - Informed Delivery™ from the USPS®
The USPS® is launching a nation-wide service called Informed Delivery™. Soon, consumers in nearly every part of the country will be able to receive an early morning email and with access to a personalized dashboard that lets them view images of the physical mail they will be receiving. It’s a welcomed resource. Throughout testing and development these past two years, 97% of subscribers have indicated that they would like to continue the service and 88% would recommend it to their friends. With more than 115 million households in the United States the number of subscribers could be very large indeed.
The USPS® Has the Trust Factor & the Scope
An organization with the trust factor and scope has a good chance of becoming the nation’s physemail vault and the USPS® is uniquely trusted. Indeed, the USPS® is the fourth highest trusted brand in America, and at the end of 2014 was viewed as the highest trusted federal agency according to the Gallup Organization. It’s not a big stretch to imagine a day when the public will be given the opportunity to grant the USPS® permission to release your home address in an encrypted format to another person who only has your telephone or email address. A plausible scenario would be the release of an encrypted scanning code that lets the USPS process a real card, letter or package but prevents the mobile device user or actual card sender (such as a business) from seeing the physical address of the recipient.
As Informed Delivery™ evolves, the USPS® could become the leading conduit for applications that would access an API to indicate whether a desired recipient has elected to receive physical mail pieces via this electronic resource. With 12% of the population moving every year, the USPS® is in a good position to provide one of the best resources available to the public.