What’s in Your Digital Mailbox, Canada?

Matt Swain
Jan 31, 2013

Although epost has been available to Canadians since 2000, there are recent signs that Canada Post  is invigorating this digital mailbox initiative. The service has grown from 100,000 registered users in 2001 to more than 8 million having registered today. To put this in perspective, that’s around 30% of Canadians over the age of 18.

I had a chance to learn more about 2012 progress and future plans when I visited with Kerry Munro, President of the Digital Delivery Network,  last week in Toronto.

Munro joined Canada Post in August of 2011 when, President and CEO Deepak Chopra created a new executive position to focus on expanding Canada Post’s digital capabilities and directing much needed attention toward a number of new and existing digital initiatives, including epost. Leveraging his 20 years of executive management experience in technology and digital media, Munro started looking bigger. Why stop at consolidating bill and statement delivery when you are really creating a platform that can serve a much broader role in consumers’ digital lives? Here’s how Munro put it:

“Our vision of the digital business is twofold.

First, to extend our capabilities from the physical infrastructure to digital—essentially allowing consumers to interact and transact with us 7-by-24-by-365, anywhere, anytime through any device. Second is to help stimulate and grow a digital economy that benefits all Canadians. Using epost as the platform that connects consumers with business and government, we enable a new set of digital connections, at scale and with the sense of trust and security that Canadians have come to expect from Canada Post.”

Canada Post ramped up marketing efforts for epost in 2012, including a new marketing campaign complete with billboard media purchases to bring renewed consumers awareness to the service.

On the user experience front, the last 18 months have brought a redesigned website and user experience, as well as an integration of epost into Canada Post’s mobile app, which last year was the #1 downloaded free business app in Canada.

Here are a few of the other services that epost plans to add to the epost offering:

  • Identity and authentication tools for ecommerce
  • Centralized application process for permitting and other services that currently require a trip to a government building
  • Opt-in relevant direct marketing and coupons

Compared with the early days of the service, there are about the same number of mailers feeding content to epost (100), and they are only delivering about 25% more document types (250) than they were 8 years ago, although Munro acknowledges that there has been a notable increase in mailers and documents over the last 6 months which has not been reflected in these numbers.

At a macro level, there are several factors that should give Canada Post an edge with epost when compared to digital mailbox services in development in the U.S.:

  • The market is already highly consolidated (e.g., 20 banks vs. 7,000+ banks in the U.S.)
  • There is high Internet penetration in Canada, at 83% (it is 78% in the U.S.)
  • Canada Post is already integrated into consumers’ lives (compared with new services trying to build brands in the U.S.)
  • epost is integrated with the banks. The service sits behind bank firewalls to directly connect bank bill payment to document review (as long as the biller is registered with epost)
  • epost has been in the market for over 12 years
  • Canada Post has 6,600 physical locations, creating other opportunities to engage consumers
  • Canada Post has existing relationships in place to drive government communications

While these are nice advantages for Canada Post, Munro still needs to make epost a destination. For instance, there is a difference between registered users and active users. Munro is tasked with converting registered inactive users to active users by adding value to the service. “This is a journey that started in late 2011 to re-invigorate epost,” Munro stated. “We made solid progress in 2012 across a number of dimensions and 2013 is off to a very good start.”

We’re happy to see epost receiving renewed attention from Canada Post and look forward to watching the evolution of the service as Munro leads the charge toward extending Canada Post’s value proposition in the digital world.

Matt Swain
Associate Director, Document Outsourcing
@SwainfoTrends

Since completion of our landmark study, The Emergence of Digital Mailbox Services, InfoTrends continues to track, present on, and consult for the digital mailbox services market in addition to our broader tracking of the customer communications delivery and payment markets via studies like our recently-launched The Future of Multi-channel Transactional Communications.

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