It's Not a Postal Meter: It's a Software Platform

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It's Not a Postal Meter: It's a Software Platform
It's Not a Postal Meter: It's a Software Platform

Pitney Bowes, long a major presence in millions of corporate mail rooms, has gone digital with focused urgency.

Yesterday, the firm announced a partnership with four digital companies heavily involved in aspects of eMarketing and eCommerce, as well as a hackathon to develop new apps for Pitney Bowes' Commerce Cloud and SendPro C-Series via Google's Android OS. This follows last week's announcement of the SendPro C series, which moves Pitney Bowes's metering capabilities to operate seamlessly in a multi-varied parcel shipment market.

“We were on an inevitably melting iceberg,” said Pitney Bowes' CEO, Marc Lautenbach. “That ended last week when we announced the product [SendPro C Series.]”. Unlike paper mail, which is in decline, parcel shipping is growing 7 to 8% per year, Lautenbach noted. This is a natural trend following the increase in online shopping. 

The digital partners announced today are Yext, Acquisio, DocuSign  and Nimble CRM. What Pitney Bowes has to offer is its existing base of one million clients. The company is aiming these products and services at the small- and medium business market.

Lautenbach described century-old Pitney Bowes as a “start-up up company,” albeit with one million clients. Pitney Bowes' Commerce Cloud is its “calling card” to potential partners who want to tap the company's client base. The partners will see different opportunities in collaborating with Pitney Bowes' cloud. 

Yext, for example, is a digital knowledge management company. Acquisio specializes in “smart search” that provides correct location and contact information to the user. DocuSign provides secure electronic transmission of corporate documents. Nimble CRM delivers social sales and marketing CRM that can be combined with other apps. 

Pitney Bowes' hackathon will run from September 29 to October 1 (September 27 registration deadline). Software developers will be crafting apps for Pitney Bowes' platform. A Pitney Bowes app store will eventually offer yet-to-be developed apps that can go beyond shipping and mailing.

“We will be curating the ideas and apps from third partners,” explained Patrick Brand, Senior VP and GM for global SMD products and strategy at Pitney Bowes. Brand speaks from previous experience, having overseen the integration work that went into the SendPro C Series, a “smart” postal meter that integrates and simplifies shipping and pricing information from a number of carriers, all presented in one simple screen on the device. 

“We have to work with so many different partners…to take their APIs and seamlessly integrate them.” Brand said. No two companies were alike in their work flows and practices. But the customer need not know those behind-the scenes details. All the screen has to do is display useful information—shipping options, prices, and the correct name and address of the recipient.”We took a customer-first approach in testing,” Brand said. “We took all the hard stuff and ironed it out.”

It's about “how not to overwhelm the customer with information,” Brand added.

Pitney Bowes, based in Stamford, Connecticut, has been in the postal metering business for about a century, it's electro-mechanical machinery long a standard in many corporate mail rooms. Like many businesses that have “been around” for a while, it has embraced digital technology to stay in business, hopefully for another century. 

Corporate history is littered with the names and logos of firms that failed to make that switch. Does any reader remember Kodak? 

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