A Brief History of the Postal Service
It was not long before the commercial possibilities became clear and again these services developed early and provided services for entrepreneurs, businessmen as well as Church and State. The one factor that connected these early services through to early Modern Britain was that the services remained relatively expensive and they served the wealthy and the privileged few. The fact that the great revolution in postal history happened at a time of increasing democratisation is not a coincidence. That great revolutionary Rowland Hill began to think about reform of postal services in 1835 – just three years after the First Reform Act that widened the franchise for UK elections. The Conservative government was attacked by both John Ramsey McCulloch and Richard Cobden, both men believing passionately in the principles of free trade. In 1833 McCulloch declared that the "safe, speedy and cheap conveyance" of mail was essential to promote commerce in the UK, with no other single factor contributing more. It seems that even then postal services were a political issue.
As the infographic shows there have been many changes to UK post services since then – perhaps many ‘political' and many controversial too. The overall aim in recent years has been to ‘democratise' the service for suppliers – allowing a greater number of private sector businesses to offer services to business. The effect on direct mail services providers has been to allow them to offer greater value and more flexible services for their clients. While the Royal Mail may still ultimately deliver the Direct Mail item postal carriers can provide services earlier in the delivery chain that will allow businesses to achieve discounts that help maintain the commercial effectiveness of their campaigns.
Other technological developments took place alongside these developments. Email challenged the supremacy of print whilst increased use of print personalisation and use of data enabled direct mail campaigns to achieve even greater focus and targeting – again helping to drive up Return on Investment and response rates.
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