Canada Post Begins Internet Postage Pilot ProgramOTTAWA - Canada Post Corp. began piloting an online postage program with E-Stamp Corp., San Mateo, CA, this month.
Canada Post and an outside market research firm randomly selected 30 small office/home office customers in Calgary, Alberta, to test E-Stamp's Internet postage solution for six weeks.
E-Stamp allows users to purchase, download and print postage - in the form of two-dimensional barcodes - from their computers onto envelopes, labels or documents using laser or inkjet printers.
Particpants log onto CPC's Web site, www.canadapost.com - which is integrated with E-Stamp's software - to download postage. They also use E-Stamp's electronic vault, a small device attached to their computer's parallel port and printer, to complete the process.
Participants use the service to send letter mail and packages within Canada and to the US.
CPC wanted to test an online postage pilot to see if it would serve the needs of Canada's 1 million SOHO businesses and because "there seems to be some interest in Canada for this type of service," said CPC spokesman Rheal LeBlanc.
During the pilot, E-Stamp will track participant purchase behavior on the CPC Web site and pass results to CPC for evaluation. CPC will also contact participants weekly to see how the program is going.
If the test is successful CPC may extend the program throughout Canada although it is not contractually obligated to do so. But CPC believes the online postage program can provide convenience for its customers.
"We're always searching for new ways to simplify the shipping and mailing process for our more than one million small office and home office businesses," said Daniel Sawaya, CPC's marketing and product management vice president.
The test, LeBlanc said, is one of several e-commerce solutions CPC is developing to make the post office more convenient.
Last month, for example, CPC introduced eParcel Stores, a service that allows small and medium-sized e-tailers to quickly create a bilingual online store.
E-tailers can select from 10 different currencies for their site, and offer customers various payment and shipping options. The system was formed through an alliance with Clic.net Télécommunications, Quebec City, Quebec, an Internet service provider.
The company sold a 10 percent stake to Deutsche Post last year and has agreements with Deutsche Telekom, the former German phone monopoly, and global mailing system vendor Franctoyp-Postalia.
"In the coming year, E-Stamp will continue to invest in strategic business areas that enable us to expand our business model and reach new markets," said Robert H. Ewald, president/CEO of E-Stamp.