Online Post Offices & Why You Might Need One

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Bits of paper being delivered to you on a daily basis is far from being technologically advanced. OK, the way postal systems around the world process and handle your mail is pretty impressive, but the fact you have to go to your mailbox or front door to collect, shows how low tech this process is. Enter the online post office.

What is an online post office?

An online post office turns old fashioned paper mail into digital files, giving you access from anywhere, on any device. No more waiting loyally at your mailbox – you can see your post when it arrives and never miss important items again.

How does it work?

Each online post office will have slightly different procedures, but broadly speaking this is what happens:

  1. You get an address in the location of your choosing
  2. You redirect or share your address and mail starts to arrive
  3. When it does it’s sorted and added to an online mail management system
  4. You’ll get a notification by email or text saying “You have mail!”
  5. You log in and choose what happens next. You can:
    1. Request for it to be opened and scanned for you to read online
    2. Ask for it to be forwarded to you unopened
    3. Have it stored until you’re ready for it
    4. Get it destroyed or recycled.

What types of addresses can I get?

It depends on where you want an address – some will be free and others you’ll need to pay for. Typically you can choose from one or more of the following in major cities around the world:

  • PO Box Addresses (UK Postbox provides PO Boxes for free in the UK)
  • Actual street addresses
  • A parcel delivery address
  • An official address for your business
  • A returns address for online marketplaces like Amazon & Etsy

Why would I need an online post office?

There are many reasons why all sorts of people use online post offices – these are just a few:

Expats

To keep an address in their native country and avoid international forwarding fees.

Frequent Travellers

For people who travel a lot for work or pleasure – they can keep on top of post whilst they’re away.

Home Based Businesses

A “virtual address” gives home businesses privacy where they live.

Businesses of all sizes

Expand into new cities without needing to lease premises.

International Shoppers

Buy goods from retailers in other countries who don’t ship internationally.

 

What should I expect from my online post office?

Trust is everything – after all, these people will be opening your mail. Make sure that you do your research before signing up to any service. Check out the company’s background, including reading reviews from a number of sources. Ideally you’re looking for a service that’s been established for some time – it’ll have the best procedures and policies in place to protect your mail. Don’t be afraid to ask – send them a message and question them about how they handle mail, because you need to make sure the company you’re choosing takes protecting your confidential information as seriously as you do. Finally, avoid scan-to-email services – they tend not to be as secure as fully fledged Online Mail Management Systems that have been specifically designed for this purpose. Also, look for those that link into other online apps – UK Postbox for example feeds straight into both Dropbox and Evernote, making a seamless link into your normal workflow.

Summary

If you’re not already using an online postal service then why wait? It’ll save you both time and money – at the very least sign up so you’ve got an address set up for when you need it.

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