Postal leaders took to the stage of the Strategic Mailing Partnership’s (SMP) ‘Technical Summit’ event to hail the progress made to ensure mail, and mail manufacturing, processes continue to provide a high-quality service for clients and customers.

The SMP’s second annual event saw a packed audience of over 70 representatives from the Royal Mail, the UK’s mailing houses and Down Stream Access (DSA) operators to share key insights and acknowledge the head-on challenges faced such as the treacherous weather which blighted – but did not stop – mailing services from its day-to-day.

Held at The Phoenix Centre in London for the second time since first launching last year, the day-long event was entitled ‘The Future, Not the Past’ and covered pivotal topics concerning the industry ahead of its GDPR-evolving landscape.

The day welcomed a critical update from Sue Whalley, MD of Royal Mail Letters and Networks and COO, who made a rallying call for everyone to provide maximum customer value, create new services for customers – and build on existing ones – as well as add to the culture in terms of the ways in which each mail business works.

Further presentations came from Simon Barker, Royal Mail, who covered operations as Ian Maynard, Head of Strategy and Planning at MarketReach, discussed the latest on JICMail. John Watson, Chairman and Group CEO of WPN Chameleon, gave an engaging talk on direct mail and how the ‘craft’ was still crucial to the industry.

Attendees grouped into ‘breakout sessions’ to address how to practice, produce and protect mail highlighting aspects into how mailing houses could influence mail craft, what the main issues around volume forecasting were and how JICMail and GDPR affect their processes.

The event also hosted a question time with panel heavyweights of Stephen Agar (Royal Mail), Andy Goddard and Charles Neilson (Whistl), Jon Wilkins
(UK Mail), Mark Bigley (Secured) and Colin Banks (APS Group).

Each panel expert highlighted successes over the past 12 months across the industry and how the SMP, especially through its Kaizen project – which
sees SMP Board Members work with Royal Mail operations and DSA carriers to improve efficiency – had proved pivotal.

During the debate. Mr Banks said: “Everyone is working together. Kaizen has been a big development over the past year in creating a conversation and getting everyone into one room. There’s been great work across the board from user groups to SMP meetings.”

Mr Bigley added: “Carriers have worked together to understand changes and have been able to seek change from Royal Mail to get improvements in place. We need to keep these discussions going over the next 12 months because it’s in all of our interests.”

Mr Neilson further praised the “revitalisation” of the SMP since being relaunched under the sponsorship of Royal Mail Wholesale and many of the panel agreed that they would like to see the processes of bringing new products to market simplified.

Speaking after the Summit, Judith Donovan CBE, SMP Chair, said: “We were absolutely delighted with the quality of the audience and debate. The SMP is now well established as a key partner, not just of the Royal Mail, but of the carriers and the other players in the market place.

“Although the market is very challenging at the moment, it is all to play for if we pull in the same direction.”
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