With the advent of digital technology, postal service all over seems to be fading fast into complete irrelevance. What should be done, from a marketing perspective, to stem the Nigerian postal service from going out of business? – A. O. Adegoke
The answer to why the Postal Service seems to be going out of business is not farfetched – Clearly the advent of digital technology (with the Internet and its associated electronic mail or email, assorted forms of the mobile phone). This does not only hold true for Nigeria, where the Nigerian Postal Services or NIPOST is quite synonymous with postal service, but in most other parts of the world. It seems ages (even while I prepare this piece) recalling the days when those khaki-wearing postal workers called on houses in various parts of the country to deliver mails. Indeed the issues of the P & T (Post and Telegram), have become a relic these days of email, pervasive cellphones, and even landlines (where still reliable). With mobile telephone subscription of over 113 million in Nigeria, and about 48 million Internet users from 200,000 in 2000 (2012 figure), one can see clearly how postal service is losing out here.
Going by historical trends of modern communication, it used to be the Morse code a long time ago. Then this gave way to telex machines and teleprinters, which ultimately paved way for the electronic printers and computers. The advent of the computer (along with its associated much faster, far cheaper and more convenient email) has stifled the demand for postal service. Just visit what remains of the post office today, you will surely be confronted with virtually empty halls that reflect a complete shadow of the good old days when long queues of customers was the vague. This is why some justifiably view postal service presently as “almost being relegated online slots to a novelty service”.
Considering what obtained in the past, it will not be out of place to deduce that postal service comprised an essential part of the social fabric which affected communities in Nigeria. Even in some rural areas, the post office (often tagged postal agency) sometime provided a meeting place for members of the community. The post office network was clearly a means through which governments of the time supported the delivery of government services to the public. Considering what obtains presently, these activities seem issues consigned to history – Thanks to digital technology, as stated above.
Postal service has the Post Office right at the core of its operation. The major functions of the Postal Service are the collection and delivery of letters, parcel post, and printed matter, such as books, magazines, and newspapers, and the issuance of domestic and foreign money orders. The Post Office is an office or building where the public has access to services of the postal system. It is indeed a place for mailing and stamps. On a wider level, it can be referred to as the national organization or government department that is responsible for a country”s mail service or national mail system. In a nutshell, think of these offerings being of a typical post office: Mail-related services such as acceptance of mail and sale of postage stamps, post office boxes, and sale of packaging and stationery. Also, some post offices offer non-postal services such as passport applications and other government forms, car tax purchase, money orders, and even banking services.
It is on record that post offices comprise the largest employers of labour in the United States and Germany. I am not sure if this is the case with Nigeria. Nevertheless, one does not have to be a keen watcher to make out that NIPOST has continuously strived to be relevant despite glaring shift of public patronage, which obviously emanates from the significant encroachment on its market share by digital technology. To remain in business, NIPOST’s offerings which include mail services, counter services, private mail bag, special delivery, financial services, postal media, etc, require some degree of projection to awaken public realization of their existence. The same holds for these business units of the same organisation which ought to arouse patronage: Nigerian Philatelic Service, NIPOST Workshop, Courier Regulatory Service, Bulkpost Venture, Parcel Post, EMS/Speed Post, Post Cash, Nigerian Postal Institute, NIPOST Logistics, and IPS Web Client.
While reflecting on the mailbox, which used to adorn many residential buildings and even strategic public places, becoming increasingly irrelevant, I am still of the conviction that the Mail is not going away anytime soon – No matter the degree of marginalization, courtesy various digital forms of communication. This justifies the urge on my part towards heeding to any call on what can be done to stem dwindling postal services – Through applying marketing components to help turn the tide. This is in sync with my belief that there is no harm in taking a shot at it, with this saying right in my mind: “No one has ever gone blind by looking at the brighter side of life”.
In line with my endorsement of any positive moves to bolster an organisation’s desire to remain afloat in the market, NIPOST’s recent move to collaborate with the School of Banking Honors (SBH) to revitalize stamping (N50-stamping) on all bank receipts, such as bank tellers and electronic transfers valued at N1000 and above, is perceived here as a master stroke. (To be continued).