Unlike many other government institutions that have been hit by rapidly changing technology and competition from private players, the postal department is reinventing itself to remain relevant even at a time when people no longer write letters.
The department is positioning itself as an efficient courier service for online businesses and has already become Amazon’s biggest partner in east India. The other companies it is partnering with include Naaptol and Snapdeal.
“Our parcel business grew 13% over the last one year, and we are expecting a 100% increase in the next five years because the habit of online shopping is on the rise,” Amitabh Singh, Postmaster General (Kolkata Region), told The Hindu.
“Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities don’t have malls but there are people who have the money to spend. Those people are going to drive our business,” he said. In his region, which spans from Kolkata right up to Murshidabad, the number of parcels delivered in a day has more than doubled from 1,200 to 2,600 in the last one year.
“Parcels occupy space, and at the moment, we can handle only about 5,000 a day, but soon we should be able to handle 7,000 to 8,000 a day,” Mr. Singh said.
To ensure faster delivery of parcels, he purchased 20 electric scooters for his region last September and plans to hire 200 more. This is the first time the postal department is using this vehicle anywhere in the country.
“Electric scooter is cost-effective and easy to maintain. It doesn’t cause pollution and you don’t need a licence to drive it,” he said. The scooters are running mostly in Durgapur, Barasat, Barrackpore and Berhampore. Also set to roll out soon, he said, was a direct van service from Kolkata to three cities — Patna, Guwahati and Bhubaneswar — for faster delivery.
“We are not only cheaper but also provide efficient service. There are certain remote locations where the regular courier guy won’t even have the guts to go, whereas for the postal department, no location is too remote,” said Mr. Singh.
“And online businesses are increasingly engaging us not because of all the good things I have to say about my department. They have a parcel-tracking system in place, therefore they can see for themselves how efficient we are,” he said.
Having said that, letters and parcels — according to Mr. Singh — account for only 45% of the postal department’s revenue. The remaining 55% comes mainly from saving schemes and services such as issuing of passport, driving licence and Aadhaar card.
Source: The Hindu