As you'll no doubt be aware, the Royal Mail will be increasing the cost of stamps at the end of this month. A first class stamp will rise in price from 46 pence to 60p (+30%). A second-class stamp will go up from 36p to 50p (+39%). That's the largest price hike since 1975. As you can imagine, people are now flocking to bulk-buy stamps at the lower price - both retailers who want to be able to sell the lower price stock at the higher value in May, but also mail-order merchants for whom the price of stamps can often be a significant proportion of their business overheads.

  Old price New price
First class stamp 46p 60p
Second class stamp 36p 50p
Large letter up to 100g: First class 75p 90p
Large letter up to 100g: Second class 58p 69p
First class up to 750g £1.58 - £3.05 £2.70
Second class up to 750g £1.33 - £2.61 £2.20
First class 100g franked letter 39p 44p
Second class 100g franked letter 28p 31p
Recorded signed-for item 77p 95p

Richard Spruce is an optician who works in a practice with branches in Alloa, Alva and Selkirk. The business sends out 5,000 reminders to patients each year, so Mr Spruce is planning to buy 10,000 stamps in advance of the price rise - saving £1,400.

"For us it is quite a significant price rise. It is a good idea to stockpile. We were going to buy these stamps anyway," he said. "Most of our patients would like reminders through the post. But we have to look to e-mail or text message reminders."

John Walker runs a property management company and orders about 200-300 first-class stamps a month from a business that supplies stamps to small businesses.

"I received a fax saying that stocks had run out and that Royal Mail had suspended replacement supplies until the end of the month," he said. "I have always supported Royal Mail and understand the need for the price rise. However this action will badly affect my business."

He said he had enough supplies for a week, but was now expecting to spending time queuing at the local post office branch to buy more.

[source: BBC News]

Changing to email and SMS communication

Fortunately this isn't going to be too much of a worry for many Brightpearl users. Sure, if you're sending small packages to customers then you will be directly affected by the price increase, but for all other communication such as invoices, statements, new product alerts, account balance reminders and so on, email and SMS are great alternatives. Here are some ways that you can use email and SMS as a replacement to good old snail mail.

  1. Send Invoices by email
    It's dead easy; and you have total control over the templates too using our powerful template editing process. You can have as many templates as you like (and not just for invoices) - including pro-formas, Job sheets, Purchase Orders, Work Orders and so on. 



  2. Send statements and invoice reminders by email or SMS from the Aged Debtors report. 
    In Brightpearl the accounting reports aren't just reports - they are great tools for letting you get on with the overhead of admin as fast as possible! Make sure you capture a mobile phone number wherever possible so that you can make use of the SMS features all over the system.



  3. Send bulk notifications such as "change of address" by email - straight from your contact lists.
    If you send regular updates, you can also add email templates to save you more time. Brightpearl emails support "merge fields" for full personalisation.



  4. Send marketing information; new product info and offers by SMS
    SMS is especially useful in a B2C environment where you capture mobile phone numbers. These days most people only use their mobile number - it's up to you to make use of it! All you need to do is sign up for an account with Clickatell, add your API details into Brightpearl and you're ready. With SMS credits from as low as 7 pence, sending letters in the post even at the old prices just seems crazy. Read more about SMS integration with Brightpearl here.

So if you ever find yourself stuffing envelopes thinking "there must be a better way" - there sure is!


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About the Author

Having grown and sold two businesses, Chris is vastly experienced in the nature of small businesses and ecommerce, and has a business owner’s insight into the needs of an SME business. Chris studied at the University of Sheffield and has a MSc in Electronic Engineering; he started his first company at the age of 21. Being frustrated by a patchwork of traditional systems such as Sage, ACT! and OS-Commerce, but lacking the budget for the options available, Chris went on to develop Brightpearl. Chris keeps one eye on the wind and is always ready to kite-surf, although he mostly loves to work.