Where in the World (1,824 words)
J. Postal/Delivery Services. This category includes both the postal and private delivery infrastructure. You generally need some basic services in both postal and private. Many U.S. marketers of outbound direct mail rely on the USPS, which offers excellent one-stop shopping for international delivery. But in some cases you're going to be looking at the services within the target countries. The most developed countries (e.g., U.K., Germany, Japan, Australia) have excellent—if sometimes expensive—direct marking support products. And in other countries, you may have good international parcel delivery services, but a poor domestic mail service.
As you look beyond the more highly developed countries, you'll find that few posts have a reliable database of delivery points, and even fewer have a usable change-of-address database. Following are some questions to ask before giving this a score:
1. Does the post deliver mail and/or parcels to a home address? A number of developing countries have no (or very little) delivery to homes.
2. Do they have an up-to-date change-of-address system available to marketers? This is one of the most obvious deficiencies in many countries' postal systems.
3. Are there volume discounts?
4. Is there a parcel COD system? If so, how quickly and efficiently are accounts settled with marketers?
5. Is there a track and trace system for parcels?
6. Is there a good postcode system, and what is the format?
To be sure, few countries are going to rank well in all indicators; most will require trade-offs, and many will fail to pass muster. Although this is arguable, I think in most cases a country should show a score of at least 30 in order to be a viable market.
Whatever your expansion plans, now is a good time to get started. Somewhere out there you'll find your Carmen Sandiego.