zumbox and NoMorePost are providing paperless mail services and are starting to compete with conventional delivered paper mail. NoMorePost is based in the UK and zumbox is based in the US.

We made a first short comparison between zumbox and NoMorePost and here are our impressions:

Web Page:

Both companies need an informative and easy to navigate website. This is a non trivial task since that website must effectively address two very differing parties: the consumer and the mailer. Both companies did a fairly good job, although some key information is a tad hard to find.

Gaining new mail recipients:

With NoMorePost a mailer has to inform it’s customers that paperless mailings are available. If a customer desires to go paperless, he needs to sign up with NoMorePost and enter a passkey, which was supplied along with the mailer’s notification that paperless mail is available. For each additional mailer the customer needs to enter the new mailer’s passkey one time. A mailer cannot send you any mail if you have not entered the mailer’s passkey. This makes NoMorePost virtually “junk mail” free, since the user controls who can send mail.

Zumbox has already created a mailbox for each postal address in the US. Once a consumer signs up with zumbox he/she may already find several mailings in the mailbox. By default any mailer can send paperless mailings to every zumbox account, which is based on the street address. However, the consumer has the choice to refuse mail from offensive mailers.

These are two interesting approaches.  The zumbox mechanism is more convenient to use, but it also is much easier to abuse, since zumbox offers easy ways for mass mailing to whole geographic regions. See our prior posting zumbox and “junk mail”.

How to pay a paperless bill

One strong selling point for NoMorePost and zumbox is the convenience of using only one online account in order to receive paperless bills and statements. But how do we pay the bill? If you are living in the US chances are good, that you are still sending out a check to pay the bill. In Europe you most likely use automated payment transactions.

Since the payment of bills is mostly automated within Europe we take a closer look at the US. By the way, NoMorePost announced that they open an office in New York.  If this means that they want to compete within the US market, it also means that NoMorePost has to integrate easy bill payment options for US customers.

Paying online:

zumbox allows the mailer to include a “Pay Now” button in the mailing. It is possible to include custom fields like invoice number, balance due, etc. for customized billing. As for now the online payment can be executed on the bill issuer’s website or any popular public payment system like PayPal.  The problem here is that the consumer may still have to manage multiple online accounts for paying their bills.  A better option could be web bill pay in case your bank offers such a service, which often is fee based.

Paying by check:

This certainly sounds simple enough, but it may not be after all things considered. Old fashioned paper bills contain standardized payment stubs and return envelopes, which can be processed by automation equipment in payment centers. Just sending in checks without a payment stub may cause increased payment processing costs if the payer omits essential information like account numbers or enters them erroneously. Of course the user could print out the bill/payment stub he received via zumbox and mail the check along with it. Still it will cause some problems in the automation equipment of payment centers, since non-standard return envelopes will be stuffed with variously folded or cut payment stubs. If the used envelope is windowless, then the consumer gets further inconvenienced by having to write an address on the envelope. And non-standardized windowed envelopes will not always show 100% of the address of a home printed and improperly fitted payment stub.

For account statements both systems are promising, for bill payments the situation is tad more tricky as we pointed out above.

In the next article we’ll take a closer look at the mailing costs using zumbox and NoMorePost……..