IT WAS good to hear Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte acknowledge the challenges facing TTPost last week. Speaking at the launch of the Address Improvement and Postal Code Implementation project for the area overseen by the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation, he noted that technology is having a dramatic effect on the future of the postal service. In November 2018, TTPost chairman Eula Rogers acknowledged that the business is not profitable.
The state postal and courier service has not prepared and presented financial statements since before 2014 and the company has not articulated any plans to assess or retrain its 1,015 employees. But the challenges of the service are also an opportunity.
The growth of e-commerce can empower TTPost as a delivery service, but the state agency must evolve its capabilities to handle deliveries that not only flow into this country through online purchases but can also enable SME efforts to develop exports for small packaged goods.
Much of the potential for the service will depend on a full implementation of the Postal Code initiative, which will assign every building and residence a six-digit code identifying it more efficiently. It’s been slow going for that project, which began in 2012, but it’s critically necessary to create a robust and accurate delivery system beyond the more developed areas in the country.
Lamp post numbers and directions involving local vegetation simply won’t cut it if TT is to meet international standards for delivery location identification and create a sustainable network for delivering goods. The company’s efforts to supplement its bottom line with special edition stamps and specialty mailboxes won’t lead to success. The core business model must change.
TTPost’s past successes were based on handling high-volume, low-labour letters, particularly documents that needed to be sent quickly and attracted handsome fees. E-mail and digital transfer services have scuttled that business, killing off most regular mail and the document handling businesses, leaving only low-volume, labour-intensive package movement as a business model, but it’s one that global services such as FedEx and UPS have already honed to an almost unassailably high efficiency.
TTPost has an opportunity to develop a business model that yokes online ordering from TT small businesses to a delivery system that takes advantage of its native knowledge of the local territory and an established network of offices. That’s going to demand far more customer-centric thinking from TTPost, engaging both businesses looking for a partner to lubricate the delivery of packages and customers keen to receive their packages in a timely and secure system.
The survival and evolution of the service depend on that kind of innovative thinking.