Ron Wiener, CEO, Earth Class Mail Corp.

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Ron Wiener, CEO, Earth Class Mail Corp.


Q: What is your company's role in the postal world?


A: Earth Class Mail gives users access to their postal mail online from anywhere in the world. We were recently a first-time exhibitor and presenter at the 11th annual Post Expo in Barcelona.


Q: How does the US Postal Service differ from international post offices?


A: The rest of the world is facing a different scenario since we have the last post office in an industrial nation that hasn't been privatized. As a result, while the rest of the world is experiencing between 1.5% and 4% declines in first class mail, in the US this is being mitigated by the fact that a lot of advertisers have moved to First Class mail in order to lift response rates.


Q: What effect has online advertising had on post offices?


A: The fact is that online advertising is growing at meteoric rates, which is causing declines in mail volumes for post offices in some industrialized nations. Already, a few international post offices have taken steps to address this migration. In Denmark, 60% of households have an account with the post office enabling them to log in and see all of their transactional mail in one convenient location.


Q: What can a post office do be more relevant in the Internet era?


A: Post offices are in a position to build a much larger online advertising industry than Google and all the other search engines combined. First, however, everybody needs to have an account with the post office, thereby establishing their online identity similar to what a physical address accomplishes for individuals and businesses. Second, the post office needs to gather information about account holders' preferences with regard to the type of mail they want to receive and how they react to campaigns — respecting their privacy, of course.


Q: What effect would this measure have on direct mailers?


A: There are all these organizations trying to curtail direct marketing. But direct marketers don't need to be stopped, they need to be better focused, and who is in a better position to have the necessary customer information to accomplish this than the post office? The answer isn't the credit houses or the list brokers, who have taken technology as far as they can trying to target mail better.


Q: Is what's happening in Denmark a real possibility in the US?


A: As far as I can tell, the USPS has no such plans. It doesn't listen to any constituency as much as it does to mailers, so if mailers were to get together and say they're tired of paying for postage on mail that isn't being opened and that they're concerned about the impact on the environment, it might listen. Will the USPS let the online mail model overrun it or continue to be the key communications channel? What needs to happen is that consumers and businesses have to know they can deliver documents online with the post office in a reliable and secure method.


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