Royal Mail testing barcodes on stamps

In what it calls a “modernization drive,” Britain’s Royal Mail has added unique barcodes to its postage stamps as part of a pilot project.

The U.K.-based postal service began adding barcodes to about 20 million second-class stamps on March 23, after which time businesses were supplied with the new-look postage through Viking Direct, an office supply store, and the Royal Mail website. The barcodes match the stamp colour and sit alongside the main design separated by simulated perforations. Officials cited “innovative customer services” and other future benefits as the reasons for the recent move.

“This initiative will see Royal Mail become one of the first postal authorities in the world to add unique barcodes to stamps,” said Nick Landon, the chief commercial officer with the postal service. “By doing this, we are looking to transform the humble stamp so that we can offer our customers even more convenient, new services in the future.”

Royal Mail has “a long and proud history for creating innovative and intuitive postal solutions,” Landon added.

“This goes all the way back to the ‘Penny Black,’ which established the principle of the one-price-goes-anywhere universal service, to the recent launch of Parcel Collect, where we pick up our customers’ parcels from the doorstep. The pilot of barcoded stamps reflects our commitment to constantly evolve our products and services in line with the ever-changing needs of our customers.”

The barcoded stamps are available as mint singles, 50-stamp sheets, 50-stamp business sheets and first-day covers.

If the pilot is successful, the barcoded stamps “may be introduced into Royal Mail’s network more widely,” according to a statement from the postal service.

The barcoded stamps are also available on a first-day cover.


Last October, Royal Mail launched Parcel Collect, a parcel pick-up service allowing mail carriers to collect parcels and returns from customers for a fee while they carry out their daily round.

A month later, Royal Mail unveiled additional “inflight” delivery options, allowing customers who won’t be home to receive an item to select an alternate choice while the parcel is on its way. With the changes, receiving customers can request delivery on another day or arrange to collect the items from Royal Mail locations across the United Kingdom.

In December, Royal Mail joined forces with U.K. drone companies DronePrep and Skyports, as well as the addressing technology what3words, to become the country’s first nationwide parcel carrier to transport a parcel for recipients via an unmanned aerial vehicle.

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