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QR Codes in postal services: Your missing parcel!

QR Codes in postal services

How many times have you been found yourself waiting for your package that was supposed to come yesterday? Quite a lot I bet. It happens more often than you think. Mail is lost in transit or simply delayed. There could be hundreds of reasons for your package to not arrive on time. Private couriers have improved their services quite a lot but public postal services/workers still struggle with technological illiteracy that results in your mail going missing.

Recently, United States postal services (USPS) announced that it will use two dimensional (2D) barcodes, also known as Quick Response (QR) Codes, on delivery packages, along with traditional barcodes to enhance reading rate when mail passes through the sorting process. 

In India, QR codes are used in postal department but only for digital payment purposes. And believe it or not, Indian postal services can lose your mail and they do more often than not.

Usage of QR codes that we see around us are ample, some very creative. Restaurants are using it for creating menus, specials, digital payments, departmental store are using it for payment and on products as well. Believe it or not, even beggars are using QR code to receive money. Isnโ€™t that something?

USPS using QR codes on mail packages:

barcode labels that are not scanned while passing through automated processing equipments.

This could occur due to various reasons like distortion, tempering, label placement, soft packaging like clothing items etc. In order to solve this problem, 2 supplementary QR codes can be placed on the opposite side of the barcode that are traditionally used on mail packages. QR codes will contain the same data as barcodes and it will result in greater in transit visibility of the mail packages.

It will also increase the read rate when mail passes through automated sorting process.

Between October 2022 and November 2022, over 3.7m packages were scanned using QR codes. It provided improved visibility, cut down on re-handling packages and improved tracking of the mail packages.

USPS Label Broker:

Since e-commerce and merchants need to accept return of packages on regular basis, people need to put a return label on the packages but most lack a printer to do so.

United States postal services provide label broker, a tool to print labels where users can input their 5 digit label id and return zip code to download a QR code label. Customers can ask the postal employee to print the label as well by providing them with label id. This has significantly improved customer experience as well.

Making a case for QR code usage in Bhartiya Dak Seva

Indian postal services still use traditional barcodes on mails and more often than not they do misplace your mail. India is a country where mail is still relevant and improving mail services is a necessity. While PM Narendra Modi is pushing for services like India Post payment bank, where post office acts like a bank at a local level and people can have a saving account there, the mail services need significant improvement apparently missing for decades.

Many e-commerce platforms in India use private courier services for delivery and return. Public postal services are primarily used by Govt. entities to send important mail to customers and now imagine that mail going missing. Who wouldnโ€™t lose their cool? I know I will. I recently had one such experience where my important mail was just transiting between two post offices, 2km apart, for five days.

Using QR codes on mail can significantly improve Indian postal services. QR codes offer great advantage over traditional barcodes. It can store more data, a URL, a phone number and address, an image, around 200 words, etc. meaning more visibility of your mail.

QR code can be sent to customers on email for tracking as well. QR code as the name, โ€˜quick responseโ€™ offers great read rate and can be read even when slightly tempered in transit. Postal services can also leverage technologies other than QR codes like RFID, BLE etc. to manage postal works and track your mail. This will result in significantly enhanced customer experience and less hassle for postal employees and they can finally say, without missing, that now YOUโ€™VE GOT MAIL!

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  • Created on Feb 21, 2023

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