First All-Digital Alternative to Snail Mail Launched

mailman_small.jpg In today’s digital world, snail mail is still incredibly labor and resource intensive. Letters must be placed in an envelope, stamped and placed in the collection system. After it is sorted and driven around, it is hand-delivered to its final destination. Will the digital age nearly completely overtake this brick and mortar industry?
Zumbox aims to change the industry by introducing a paperless postal service. This service was just officially launched yesterday at Simply stated, Zumbox creates a webpage for each physical address, allowing users to bypass the snail mail system.

Personal correspondence, financial statements, catalogs, and bills can all be received in this virtual mailbox. Numerous interactive formats can be used, such as Flash, audio, video, and HTML, thus transforming the experience of opening mail. Everything can be sorted and stored digitally, saving large amounts of paper, ink, and file cabinets.
Zumbox boasts bank-level security. After registering on the site, a PIN number is snail mailed to the stated address to ensure privacy.
It is free to send and receive mail, except some charges apply for advertisers and marketers. This may prove to be a very cost-effective and creative format for many organizations and individuals to send mail.
“The paper mail delivery system has not fundamentally changed for two centuries and is a complete disconnect from the digital world,” said Maury Friedman, the founder of Zumbox. “People are ready for a solution that will enable them to benefit from a platform that transforms mail into a rich digital offering, while using the same street addresses to deliver the same mail content.”

The Postal Service
A staggering 202.7 billion pieces of mail were delivered in the 2008 fiscal year (October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008). This actually represented a 4.5% decline from the 2007 fiscal year. It is the largest volume decrease since the great depression, according to Stephen Kearney, senior vice president of customer relations for the Postal Service.
This volume decline is attributed to use of electronic mail and a slow economy. Postal volume has even been called a lesser known economic indicator. For example, direct mail campaigns are being reduced during recessions because they are expensive and banks are extended fewer offers of credit. In addition, some do not mail campaigns have been launched in recent years to save trees.
The Postal Service has come late to the digital world and faces numerous challenges. It is a very labor-intensive business that must operate within the constraints set by Congress, while competing with private delivery companies.
“A lot of people have predicted the demise of the postal service many times before, including after the invention of the telegraph, the telephone and the fax machine,” said Stephen Kearney. “We think when the economy recovers, demand for our shipping and mailing services will be renewed.”

Sarah Lozanova is a green copywriter and communications professional specializing in renewable energy and clean technology. She is a consultant for Sustainable Solutions Group and a regular contributor to environmental and energy publications and websites, including Mother Earth Living, Home Power, Earth911, and Green Builder. Her experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and she resides in Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage in Midcoast Maine.

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