The society’s needs of postal services (PTS-ER-2019:25)
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) has engaged the consultancy company Analysys Mason to conduct a qualitative survey of the needs of senders of postal items, with a focus on government agencies and large companies that send and receive large numbers of letters. One important element of the survey was to find out what the consequences would be for the organisations surveyed if the frequency of delivery were to change.
The digitalisation of society, with its changes to communication and consumption patterns, is having a major impact on the postal market in the form of, among other things, reduced volumes of letters and increasing volumes of parcels. The Swedish postal regulation, which was last changed in 2018, will therefore need to be reviewed once more in the next few years. The assignment given to Analysys Mason represents one stage in the authority’s work to map out how the universal postal service might need to be changed in order to meet society’s needs, while still being sustainable in the long term.
The transition to digital communication methods now taking place among senders who send a lot of letters, in both public and private sectors, is clearly evident in Analysis Mason’s survey. The organisations interviewed state that they will be sending fewer and fewer letters in the years ahead. Despite this, they still need a reliable letter delivery service in order to communicate written messages, although not necessarily with delivery five days a week. The need to be able to send and receive written messages quickly in the future will also remain to some extent.
Postnord has announced that the operator intends to introduce a new postal delivery model with delivery of certain items every other day. There is some concern among the organisations interviewed about what such a change may involve. They are also concerned about how they will communicate the change to, among others, socio-economically vulnerable groups who are largely dependent on letter services. It is clearly evident that it is very important that Postnord informs customers and the general public in good time and in an easily understandable way, if there is to be a change in the frequency of delivery, and to explain the actual consequences for users of postal services.
The survey shows that society needs to make sure that users such as small businesses, the elderly, socio-economically vulnerable groups and those who need physical consignments still have access in future to postal services that meet their needs, are reliable and maintain good quality.
Companies state that they have fewer problems than the public sector when it comes to switching to a lower frequency of delivery. This is because companies have already digitalised their handling of post to a greater extent for cost reasons and do not have the same social responsibility as the public sector has. Large companies are better equipped to handle a transition from written to digital messages than small companies, especially in sparsely populated and rural areas.
A lower frequency of delivery brings demands for the further development of digital services, shaped with a focus on the needs of users based on an accessibility perspective. The survey shows that government agencies whose activities have been digitalised to a lesser extent may need support and resources for their development. There may also be a need to adapt legislation to facilitate digital communication between government agencies, to promote digital mailboxes and digital inclusion.