Americans have experienced some of the most jarring months in modern history. The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted every aspect of our lives. Businesses have had to rethink how they interact with their workforce critically, and logistics departments are no exception. Mail centers have done their best to reduce the amount of human interaction between delivery personnel and employees. How can mail centers continue to maintain their daily operations during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Digital Mail

Digital mail couldn’t be more critical today. It provides mail visibility to employees and allows them to choose their handling preferences without being physically present in the building. With this technology, incoming white mail is converted into a digital format and delivered to an addressee electronically. Digital mail is offering companies a way to enhance efficiency and create quicker access to incoming documents, all while reducing human-to-human contact. Depending on the complexity of the services provided, such as mail scanning and mail forwarding (more on this below), each mail center can reduce contact for their entire operation. This is an excellent way to ensure the safety and security of your mail center, but in some cases, it means that recipients receive their mail even faster than they would through your usual processes.

Address Forwarding

The concept of address forwarding is quite simple: A facility’s mail center, upon the request of a recipient, redirects received mail to a forwarding address. Though this may seem like a simple tool, it has a significant impact on a facility’s operations. An address forwarding process will get mail to remote recipients and keep your team safe by reducing human-to-human contact. Most logistics platforms give companies two distinct approaches to perform address forwarding.

1. Integration with an existing ERP system

Integrate your tracking system with your company or university’s ERP system to import forwarding addresses on file. Mail center employees would scan the barcode on a package and assign a recipient. An alert would pop up saying that student or employee has a forwarding address. The employee can print a new label and prep the package for outbound shipment, ensuring it does not collect dust or take up valuable space.

2. Service Request Form

Most tracking systems can also collect forwarding addresses via a request form completed by the user. To enter a forwarding address, students, employees, or anyone else receiving mail at the company would input their new address into the Address Forwarding request form on the web portal, which automatically updates the recipient database.

Remote Package Quarantine

The off-site or remote quarantine method is among the more accessible strategies for a company to implement when it comes to receivables. To use this method, a facility must first dedicate an area for quarantining packages. Once you have a dedicated space, you must allow all incoming packages to remain in that space for 24-hours to ensure sanitation. After 24-hours have passed, mail center staff send an email/text notification to the recipient to inform them that the package(s) is ready for pickup or delivery. This is a simple and effective strategy to mitigate any opportunity for disease spread through human contact.

Intelligent Lockers

The integrated intelligent locker is an incredible tool for companies to implement during the pandemic, as they have multiple functions. Traditionally, companies would use smart lockers as an additional way to “deliver” packages to employees. However, during this pandemic, companies have been using intelligent lockers as an effective way to perform contactless delivery. Mail centers can hold packages in a 24-hour quarantine in a locker before making it accessible to the recipient, thus minimizing the opportunity for COVID spread. Employees can also use this quarantine method for outbound packages, which helps ensure the safety of mail center employees. Intelligent lockers are an excellent way to engage in touch-free delivery for packages, parcels, or any item of value for your mail center – both on the shipping and receiving side of operations.

Kiosk Use & Remote Location Pick-Up

Mail centers have a particularly difficult task in that they must reduce the use of their service windows. Fortunately, kiosks have been an innovative way to engage in the pick-up process of mail, packages, and other central services. Kiosks work in conjunction with remote pick-up locations, which allows a recipient to forgo a person-to-person package transfer and safely retrieve their package at a remote location within a mail center. People would swipe their ID cards to access the kiosk to see if they have any packages available and designate if they want to pick them up now or later. The recipient will receive a notification when their package is in the pick-up area, eliminating in-person interaction and the number of people in the mail center.

As Vice President of Emerging Markets, Bruce is responsible for developing international business as well as managing channel partners. He has over 20 years of experience in the mail and package tracking industry. Bruce joined the SCLogic team in 1999 as the Vice President of Channels and has also held the titles of Vice President of Sales and General Manager before becoming the Vice President of Emerging Markets. Bruce has presented at many industry conferences such as NPF, MAILCOM, IFMA World Workplace, NACAS C3X, and NACUMS.