Postal rate change forces rethink for the UK’s SMEs

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With the huge increases in the postal rate announced this week by the Royal Mail, it’s important that Britain’s SMEs are not caught out. The changes mean that those businesses that still use first-class stamps could see their postal bill rocket, with the cost of a first-class stamp rising from 46p to 60p for the smallest letter and second-class stamps rising from 36p to 50p – increases of 30 percent and 38 percent respectively. However users of franking machines will bear a much smaller increase from 39p to 44p for first class and from 28p to 31p for second class.

The new prices will come into effect on 30 April, giving the UK’s 2,645,000 SMEs and SoHos little time to consider their options.

Initially this may appear a considerable challenge, but there are some alternatives to consider. For instance many customers can cut costs immediately by moving to metered mail, which has become increasingly attractive financially.

So-called smart franking machines, such as the Pitney Bowes range, are equipped with postal scales to ensure that the right price is applied every time. As well as safeguarding the user against overpaying for post, this also ensures that you never run the risk of underpaying, which can be costly to businesses as well as detrimental to their brand. In conjunction with the forthcoming postal rates change, administrative fees will move to 80p for every underpaid item, in addition to the underpayment amount. Those who want to stick with stamps can also make savings by folding documents into letter format.

Pitney Bowes has published comprehensive advice online at www.ratechange.co.uk as well as offering specific product options suitable for small and micro businesses. We are also inviting existing users to view a Pitney Bowes webinar to help them understand the issues and which response is best for their individual situation.

The gap between the cost of stamps and metered mail is widening each year and many SMEs would be well advised to consider moving to a franking machine if they haven’t done so already. In addition to instant time and money savings, metered mail delivers a range of benefits such as better ‘open rates’ and presents a more professional image to customers, as well as enabling users to access a range of other bulk-mailing discounts.

Businesses should not abandon physical mail in a bid to avoid high postage rates; it still has an important part to play. Successful customer communications depend on a delicate balance of message, medium and timing. Although digital communications undoubtedly have their place, traditional print campaigns are still critical for most businesses and are likely to remain so for many years to come.

Recent consumer research by Pitney Bowes has shown that customers still enjoy physical mail and in many cases it has clear advantages over email. However both physical and digital customer contact are likely to exist alongside each other for many years and SMEs should take the opportunity to review their entire communications strategy.

Pitney Bowes recently released the results of customer research showing that consumers are becoming increasingly jaded as a result of excessive contact from businesses, and revealing the Seven Deadly Sins of Communication. (http://pressroom.pitneybowes.co.uk/why-your-customers-are-just-not-that-into-you/)

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