Editorial: Postal cutbacks just a sign of changing times

NZ Post faces falling mail volumes and must adapt

Photo / Duncan Brown
Photo / Duncan Brown

Flexibility is probably the key arm in the arsenal of businesses facing the tide of technological change. They must have the means to respond agilely and adroitly to developments that threaten their profitability or perhaps their very existence.

So it is with New Zealand Post. Its plight leaves the Government with no option but to change the deed of understanding that has governed its operations since 1998.

That document was, in technological terms, signed in a completely different era. Since then, mail volumes have plunged as social networking sites and online media make communication easier, less expensive and more immediate. NZ Post has tried what it describes as a number of "short-term fixes". But cost-cutting and new products can no longer match the falling mail volumes. Now, the time has come for drastic changes if it is to have any chance of remaining profitable. This week, it outlined plans to move to three-day-a-week letter deliveries and to replace some of its Postshops with self-service kiosks.

The relatively subdued response to this proposal speaks volumes of the widespread acceptance of the consequences of the digital revolution. The mail service that remains will reflect the fewer letters being dispatched. And the self-service kiosks for posting letters or parcels and paying bills will mimic those making increasing inroads into supermarkets. Elderly people, in particular, will need to adapt. So, to a larger and more problematic degree, will farmers in areas with poor broadband and cellphone coverage. But so, too, must NZ Post.

- NZ Herald

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