Off-site printing service banks on hardcopy invoice needs

Sydney-based start-up touts ‘snail mail on steroids’

Businesses may be moving to digitize their operations in today's technocentric world, but according to Australian start-up bing Technologies, the humble hardcopy letter will prevail.

That is at least what the company has gathered from an Australia Post survey that, at the turn of the millennium, found that while businesses reported a preference for electronic correspondence, ninety percent of their customers would rather receive invoices and statements in the post.

"Mail is a real pain for a lot of companies," said bing's National Sales Manager, Simon Moss, explaining that while the electronic medium does offer a speed advantage over traditional letters, it can be less effective as a reminder of outstanding invoices.

"The average e-mail is handled about once or twice after it enters your mailbox," Moss explained. "Paper is, on average, touched 7 times; people receive letters, stick them on the fridge, and pass them on."

bing Technologies is a software-enabled postal service provider with headquarters in Sydney and Brisbane. Its self-titled service allows businesses to electronically send any document they create to either of bing's facilities for offsite, on-demand printing and next-day delivery through Australia Post.

Aimed at enterprises and small to medium enterprises (SMEs), the service is expected to speed up the mailing process through automation, and reduce the cost of mail by up to 42 percent through economies of scale.

Besides enabling its clients to more readily access wholesale prices from Australia Post, the service boasts the potential to eliminate wasted printing materials and cut down on human hours spent manually printing, folding and posting letters.

bing's automated process has already been welcomed by SME clients, and a large bank. Moss cited market figures that revealed the number of letters sent in Australia to have increased by 150 million, to 5 billion in 2006. About 41 percent of this market, or 2.1 billion letters, were found to have originated from enterprises and SMEs.

The 2.1 billion letters sent by Australian businesses were still only a small portion of what Moss saw as an "addressable world market" of 450 billion letters sent world wide.

The company plans to open facilities in Melbourne and Auckland by the end of this year, with plans for further international expansion into New York and London in 2008. As outgoing mail is electronically delivered to be printed and posted by the branch closest to the recipient, Moss expects mail sent through bing to reach its destination up to 36 hours faster than courier services such as DHL, with the launch of international branches.

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