Paper cards sent by post lost the battle to e-greetings and SMSes a long time ago. The latest to realise this, and innovate accordingly, is Indiapost, the country’s postal department.
On December 23, Indiapost launched e-greetings that combine traditional post with the pace of the internet. The user selects a greeting on the Indiapost website and a printout is delivered to the addressee in a day’s time — the last leg being covered by the friendly postman.
“Our business is changing and we are gearing up for that,” says RRP Singh, general manager, business development division, Department of Posts.
The innovation was forced upon Indiapost by the decline in normal mail, and the resultant blow to its revenue. The department saw a decline of over 15 per cent in unregistered mail last year. And the numbers continue to fall. On the other hand, the ‘other business services’ category — which includes e-post — registered a 150 per cent increase in revenue.
Paper-card and gifts companies like Archies too have had to step into e-greetings. Archies charges an annual fee of Rs 300 for the usage of 100 cards. “Our e-traffic peaks during the festive season. Our revenues from e-greetings have gone up by 10 per cent this year,” says Pramod Arora, executive director, Archies. The company's paper-card business registered a decline last year.
Estimated to be worth Rs 250 crore, the e-card market in India is seeing traffic during festive seasons like never before. "Our revenue has increased by 15 per cent," says Manish Saraf, senior manager, 123 India, a free e-greeting site.
Another favourite is the SMS. Industry sources say SMS traffic goes up by 200 per cent during the Christmas-New Year season. India’s expanding mobile network now has more than 10 crore subscribers. The Internet and Mobile Association of India estimated mobile users exchanged 730 million SMSes during 2005-06 — about a tenth of them in the festive season. Says Harish Gandhi, vice-president, VAS & NPD, Bharti Airtel Limited, “Statistics indicate heavy SMS traffic during festivals.”