The Next Big Thing; E-Postage Offers Businesses Print-It-Yourself Stamps That Can Save Money and Cut Post Office Queuing, Says Penny Cottee

Article excerpt

Byline: PENNY COTTEE

IF you work for a small business, you'll be familiar with the daily trip to the Post Office and how time consuming that can be. Simply collecting together the letters and parcels, driving through the rush hour, parking, queuing, weighing the packages, checking the tariffs and sticking stamps on, can take an hour or more.

Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a stamp online and print it out in your own office? Well, by the end of this year, that's what you'll be able to do. Royal Mail is introducing an e-postage service, which will revolutionise the way we buy stamps.

"We wanted to give business customers an alternative to the Post Office journey," explains Steven Green, channels development manager at Royal Mail.

"This online system will save people valuable time by allowing them to access stamps whenever they need them, 24 hours a day." Similar systems already exist in Germany and the USA.

So, how does it work? "Customers will open an online account with Royal Mail, for which there will be a small set-up fee and monthly charge," says Green. "You can either pre-charge the account with money, or pay by credit card."

You simply log on, click on the postage you want and use your desktop printer to print the stamp directly to a label.

All national and international rates will be available on screen so, provided you know your package for Italy weighs 1kg, you'll be able to find the correct cost. Buying online should also help control postage costs and eliminates the possibility of staff pilfering the odd stamp from the petty cash tin.

You won't need any new equipment or software to access e-postage. …