Trend Observation: The New Snail Mail

A company called Outbox has modernized the snail mail experience by digitizing it.

Staff are called “unpostmen” and they collect users’ correspondence and bring it to a processing center where letters are scanned and uploaded online. Users don’t ever have to interact with their mailboxes. Instead, they get an email notification when new items are available for viewing.

After signing up for the service, which costs $5 a month after a free month’s trial, it asks for an image of a user’s mailbox key, if applicable. According to the company, keys will be used only for mail retrieval and then destroyed or returned upon termination of service. Once set up—either for an individual or all members of a single residence—the unpostmen visit the mailbox three days a week to pick up mail and drop off any packages at the door.

“Basically, the user signs up and within about 30 seconds, we make them paperless—all their postal mail, paper correspondence now comes in an app, on the iPhone, iPad or desktop. As a result, the user has a painless paperless experience.”
Will Davis, co-founder of Outbox, to Dvice

Going paperlessly postal

Consumers and companies all over the world are switching to paperless forms of interaction and communication in their lives and their work: in the retail sector, in the classroom, and in the air. We’re even seeing more consumers showing a preference to make purchases using mobile or card payments, avoiding paper money and paper receipts entirely. As cloud computing becomes increasingly popular, we’re seeing consumers do more online.

According to Mintel’s Living Online US July 2012 report, 54% of consumers said they check email all day long—whether at their desk or at home in the evenings, 38% said they feel like they are always connected.

As consumers continue to up their connectivity, companies and services that cater to this online lifestyle are sure to succeed. Alternatively, we are seeing some questions being raised about the eco-friendliness of the kinds of computers necessary for so many of us to go paperless. Companies will do well to find a way to deliver convenience alongside eco-responsibility in order to appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

For a deep and complete analysis of the current situation of connectivity, Mintel published the following market research: Living Online

This is an observation from our Inspire trend Never Say Die, which looks at the popularity of nostalgic goods and practices.

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