Mindless Algorithm

A blog for someone who sometimes writes

Postal UX

May 14, 2019

Every day I get letters through the door, despite my attempts to redirect everything I can into email. Packages are a constant battle to be in the house when they are delivered.

There are a lot of problems with post that are simply to do with it not being digitalised:

  • Hard to search
  • Irritating to delete/archive (takes up space)
  • Can’t apply automatic filtering (for deleting spam or archiving)

Even apart from these problems, I feel like we can do physical post better.

Some ideas:

Redirection

Instead of users having to continually update their addresses when they move with every entity they correspond with, they should be able to specify their ID in the postal service database. The user could then update the database once, and automatically redirect mail to a new address.

This also has the advantage that one’s physical address is one step removed from the entity in question. In theory they need not know where you live, only the postal service knows.

It should be possible to redirect on the fly, depending on where I will be that day or time.

In fairness, the Royal Mail has the concept of a PO box, where one can have mail delievered to a separate address and then redirected. I believe this is mostly for businesses however, and is bizarrely expensive (~£25/month). There are redirection services for individuals, but again, they are expensive.

Accreditation

Why not have all senders be registered and accredited, similar to how domains are for email? Spammy senders could be taxed, consumers could opt out of receiving their mail, or bad senders could just all be blocked.

Preferences

It should be easy to specify general preferences about:

  • When mail should be delivered, which can vary by time and package type. E.g. During the day you can deliver to my work, but only small packages - larger packages can wait until the weekend and be delivered to my home etc.
  • If I will need help with certain items (e.g. heavy packages)
  • Safe spaces to leave items.

I should not have to do this for every single entity I interact with. I should be able to order something without worrying if I will be in, whether I will be able to track it, etc.

Tracking as standard

I should be able to know:

  • When an entity sends me a letter or package.
  • Its contents
  • When it will arrive (including tracking an app, on the day)

Digitalisation

Letters should mostly be emails, but clearly some entities want to send physical copies as well. The mail provider should offer a service to digitalise my letters into emails and send me both copies (according to my preferences). They should keep a searchable archive of all my post for me.