The Post and the envelope industry: Addressing challenges with collaborative solutions

On 9 September 2022, for the first time in over a decade, the UPU leadership addressed the European envelope manufacturers and suppliers during the 65th FEPE Congress, held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Challenges and opportunities related to e-commerce and business diversification took central stage.

As longstanding and natural partners, Posts and envelope producers have been equally impacted by the omnipresent trends of declining letter volumes and skyrocketing e-commerce levels, especially during and post pandemic.

The Federation for envelopes and for light and ecommerce packaging in Europe (FEPE) supports its members, envelope and packaging producers and suppliers, in effectively adapting to these changes, defending and promoting the industry’s interests and growth. Just as the postal sector, in recent years, FEPE has transformed itself and expanded its focus to cover e-commerce packaging, paper bags, bread bags, labels and other paper-based light packaging products.

Speaking in his home country Slovenia, the UPU Deputy Director General Marjan Osvald emphasized the need for an ever-growing collaboration between postal operators and envelope and light packaging businesses as both continue to face shared challenges. Digitalization, transformation of business models, growth through diversification, product innovation, and sustainability concerns are just some of the market-driven demands that shape the strategies of both partners.

To successfully navigate through transforming economies, Mr Osvald highlighted that both entity-level and sector-wide partnerships, such as the one between the UPU and FEPE, are key: “The envelope sector and the postal services are close partners, and these dialogue and cooperation between our organizations must be enhanced to the benefit of both industries.”

Thus, in its role as the prime knowledge centre of the postal sector, the UPU will continue to capture and analyze industry data, allowing for a timely and informed response to the expected developments. The UPU’s Postal Economic Research and Postal Statistics can provide an invaluable source of information to forecast letter-post volumes and envelope sales at the national, regional and international levels.

The recently reformed UPU’s Consultative Committee (CC) is another channel, which envelope and light packaging producers are encouraged to use to benefit from the UPU’s research, products and services as well as to engage more closely with delivery-service providers and other industry stakeholders. With the Global Envelope Alliance having already set an example of a successful cross-sector collaboration within the framework of the UPU’s CC, the new Committee membership structure will allow private businesses to have their say as well.

Finally, direct marketing remains a strategic business line for the envelope industry. Although the share of direct mail in the European marketing mix has been falling, when effectively combined with online solutions, it provides a powerful tool to speed up client acquisition and business growth. The UPU’s Direct Marketing Advisory Board (DMAB) offers a platform to exchange views and expertise in direct marketing and welcomes FEPE and its members to collaborate on innovative joint solutions.

In the increasingly digitalized markets, challenges are numerous, but so are opportunities for cooperation. As we approach the World Post Day celebrations in October, Mr Osvald reiterated the UPU’s invitation to all partners, big and small, private and public, to “be part of the global conversation” in order to build “a strong future for the postal sector and the envelope industry together.”

Download the full presentation of the UPU Deputy Director General at the 65th FEPE Congress here.

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