Emails, text messaging, electronic signatures. All of these are examples of the way we use technology to communicate and execute documentation in today’s world. As online services like these become more of the norm, mail in the digital economy may seem unnecessary. However, physical mail from the United States Postal Service isn’t going away anytime soon…and we should all hope it continues to stick around.
Physical Mail is Still Utilized for Legal Notices, Marketing Materials, Voting Ballots, and More
While Americans generally mail less than we have in the past, USPS Marketing Mail hasn’t declined much in recent years (only 4%). Think all those catalogs you get from furniture stores, or booklets of coupons from your local supermarket. Those are examples of USPS Marketing Mail. Mail pieces like this account for a significant portion of USPS’ deliveries, and marketing mail contributes to a large amount of retail revenue.
In addition to Marketing Mail, USPS also delivers an overwhelming amount of legal documents through the mail. For example, anyone who runs a business must mail checks to their state’s Franchise Tax Board. In addition, legal notices like insurance cancellations or utility shutoffs are all required by law to be delivered via mail. Not to mention that we all have to mail our tax returns to the IRS every year in April. Also, when it comes to financial documents such as bills and credit card statements, studies show that most consumers still want paper copies for their records.
Lastly, let’s talk about elections. People don’t want to stand in line at voting booths anymore. As a result, Vote by Mail is more popular now than it has ever been. In fact, Vote by Mail ballots accounted for over 25% of all ballots cast in the 2016 US Presidential election! As the younger generations begin voting, this service will only keep growing more popular. You get the picture here.
Mail in the Digital Economy is Still Important, Even Though We Use It Less
There’s no arguing that Americans mail less than they used to. The amount of letters and postcards that pass through USPS’ network has obviously declined due to technology like email, and…well, cell phones. However, the next time you find yourself getting annoyed at all the letters stuffed inside your mailbox, just remember how much our economy (and democracy) still relies on physical mail and the US Postal Service.