IPC interviewed Oliver Kray, the CEO of MyPostcard. MyPostcard is an app which allows you to send your own photos as physical postcards anywhere in the world. It is available for both consumers and for business users. This interview covers a range of topics, including: postcard volumes and the business impact of the Coronavirus, the partnership with Deutsche Post DHL, the postcard service offering for business and the current print media challenges.
What is MyPostcard? Could you tell us a bit more about the company’s history?
MyPostcard is an app which allows you to send your own photos as real postcards anywhere in the world. In one of the 10 languages currently available, our users can choose from a selection of over 50,000 designs and templates. Depending on the recipient address, we decide which country the postcards are printed in and send the ready-to-print files to our global printing network. From there, the postcards are delivered directly to the recipients.It all began in 2013, when I was on vacation and couldn’t find any nice postcards to send to my family. On top of that, I noticed that most souvenir shops were not selling international stamps anymore. So, I had to go search for them myself, as well as find a nearby postbox. I immediately saw room for improvement. And it was also at that time when everyone was starting to use their phones to take pictures instead of actual cameras. I combined these two pain points and there it was – from a personal problem, the idea for a postcard app was born.For more than six months after the app launched in 2014, I was acting as a designer, product manager, customer support assistant and CEO all at once. Fast forward to 2020 and we have a team of over 30 employees with offices in Berlin, New York City, and Guatemala City. We’re working with seven different printers worldwide towards our goal of becoming the biggest postcard service in the world. Our app has been downloaded close to four million times.
How does MyPostcard work? Guide us through a typical MyPostcard order. What are the key steps and how long does it take?
Users from anywhere in the world can download our app. You either upload your own photos or choose one of our designs and you can edit them with an extensive set of tools. Next, you add your personal message and we also offer sample texts for various occasions. Then you add one or several recipient addresses. The last step is to review your postcard front and back. Once approved, you go ahead and pay via PayPal, credit card, Apple Pay or Android Pay and your order is completed.
We immediately send the print-ready PDF to one of our global printers, closest to the recipient, where it gets printed and handed over to the post office within 24 hours on weekdays.
The average postcard order takes less than five minutes to create. It is so easy to use that both young and old people are able to send cards. Our oldest customer is 85 years old.
Can you share some data regarding your yearly global volumes as well as those in your major markets?
At the moment we’re sending out about five million postcards and around two million more with our B2B business. Our current growth is over 50%. About 70% of all orders come out of Germany, 15% from the USA and 5% each out of the UK and France. The rest is divided all over the world.
Can you give us a breakdown of the usage of MyPostcard by category, e.g. travel, birthday, etc.?
Usually about 80% of our customers are sending postcards on their vacations from all over the world. This is followed by birthday cards, Christmas cards, Easter cards and then also cards for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. However, during the current global Covid-19 crisis, we have noticed that around 80% of all postcards are now sent from home, to spread positivity and make other people happy. Overall, there is a sustainable upward trend for sending postcards for all kinds of occasions.
Do you have estimates of MyPostcard’s share of the total postcard business?
Our market share worldwide is about 0.3%, meaning there’s great potential for growth. In Germany alone, 190 million postcards are sent in the B2C market and just above 600 million postcards in the US. The B2B market is at least five times bigger in both cases.
What are the advantages of physical postcards over digital means of communication?
Our biggest asset is our particular combination of analogue and digital. The emotional value of print media paired with the speed of digital communication. Another advantage is customisation – users can use their own photos for their postcards. An individually designed ‘MyPostcard’ reaches the recipient athan the traditional postcard and is a lot more emotionally valuable compared to a message via a digital messenger service that would disappear rather quickly in the social feed.
Has the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe affected your volumes?
Yes, due to the Covid-19 crisis we have seen a growth of 200% over the past four weeks from mid-March to mid-April. The demand for sending postcards online has increased by more than 100% in April. This is partly due to our campaign aiming to help #flattenthecurve and encourage people to stay home.
In Germany, you have partnered with Deutsche Post. How did that collaboration come about?
Deutsche Post wanted to focus on their core business and no longer wanted to use their tech resources for a niche business like a postcard app, which I understand. The technical effort, financial investment and allocation of employees needed to create and run a well-functioning app and website for sending postcards is extremely high. You constantly need to develop new updates across multiple platforms in order to keep up with digital trends. Quite understandably, this just didn’t make sense for them anymore. It was the best option for both parties to join forces on this project. In the end, we both won. We came out stronger and are able to focus further on growing our core business. Deutsche Post on the other hand benefits from the fact that more stamps are being bought domestically. This is due in part to a superior user experience, but also as a result of international customers, who would’ve previously bought the stamps in their home country, bringing their business to our app. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.
What have been the recent results of this partnership?
Customers are reporting a greater level of satisfaction by using our highly intuitive service, which means we've been able to win very loyal customers. In other words, customer retention has increased significantly. Even now, we’re continuously getting users following a link on Deutsche Post website, and that's helping us achieve an added value for both parties, which is growing day by day. Our customers are happy to be using the best digital product on the market and Deutsche Post massively appreciates that the number of stamps being sold and postcards shipped via its postal network is constantly growing. They are also seeing the impact of positive branding among their customers by offering them next-generation technology. All in all, in return for no financial or time investment as well as actively decreased costs, they are seeing maximum returns.
Let’s talk about the B2B side of your business. How has it grown in recent years?
We essentially offer three B2B models.
The first one is the above-mentioned business account, which is essentially the consumer version of MyPostcard, but with different pricing conditions. It’s meant for small businesses and freelancers. A classic example of this are real estate professionals who use postcards to facilitate instant campaigns after client meetings and for relationship building.
The second one is our business tool, an easy-to-use self-service tool which allows you to send a fully customised and personalised postcard to a specified number of customers via an excel list. This is aimed towards SMBs doing one-off mailing campaigns. Due to our global fulfillment network, we can offer very competitive fixed rates for an international customer base.
The third one is our API integration which enables small, medium, and large companies to use automated postcard delivery as part of their marketing campaigns. Similar to a newsletter software, they are able to integrate fully automatised campaigns and set certain triggers based on customer behavior or information. A popular trigger is automated birthday cards for each customer.
When it comes to the B2B business we have one key advantage; our daily fulfilment in the B2C workflow. This makes it possible to start production from a minimum volume of just one card per day at a highly competitive price.
What do you see as the primary challenge for promoting traditional communication/marketing channels these days?
The primary challenge is integration. Most companies don’t seamlessly integrate a traditional communication channel into their marketing mix.
Usually, you see a digital campaign and a traditional campaign, but we see the value in combining both in one campaign. The challenge is to make print media integration easy and convenient. Taking our newly developed Shopify app as an example, people can now seamlessly integrate a traditional communication channel by triggering personalised postcards based on customer behavior in their online shops. Simply by installing an app, print media becomes accessible and integrates easily with digital marketing channels.
How can print media evolve to compete with digital channels?
Print channels need to be as easy to use as digital channels if they hope to compete with them. Workflow automation and smart personalisation are also key.
Via APIs, we can produce both small and large volumes of cards that are transferred directly into our daily fulfillment process. That makes the entrance barrier to use print media in the marketing mix much lower. It also allows personalisation for each individual card, both in design and by activation trigger, which makes these cards highly effective. We work with companies that send automated post-trip ‘thank you’ cards with a photo of the specific trip that was booked to activate their post-purchase campaign. Sometimes they submit five cards per day, sometimes 5000. They all go into our daily workflow and get printed and sent out anywhere worldwide within 24 hours. Automated and personalised trigger mailing is key to increasing retention rates and is highly competitive to digital channels.
What projects are you currently working on and what are your future plans?
We are still in a typical growth stage and have multiple projects running at once to discover new opportunities quickly. We are proud to be ranked 347th in this year’s FT 1000 – Europe’s fastest-growing companies, coming in place 19 in the e-commerce category. A big project that we are about to launch is an international penpal network, which allows its users to send postcards worldwide without seeing the private address of the recipient. It’s a similar model to the well-known Postcrossing network, but with MyPostcard technology.
Another project is a Gmail integration, which allows users to transform digital emails into real letters that can be sent worldwide. Even attachments like documents, photos or PDF files will be available to order in printed form on demand.
And then there is our existing marketplace for postcard designs, which enables postcard publishers, brands, artists and NGOs to publish their own designs and sell them independently through our shop.
Learn more about MyPostcard at mypostcard.com