Lockheed Martin and Team Partner GFT Technologies to Support Royal Mail's New Online Postage Service
LONDON, 15-JAN-04 -- The UK Royal Mail's new SmartStampTM online postage service, developed to give its customers a convenient way to buy stamps at any time from their home or office, leverages advanced address interpretation and e-business technology designed by Lockheed Martin and GFT Technologies AG.
Launched today by Royal Mail, the subscriber-based SmartStampTM system is a cost-effective, easy-to-use Internet service suitable primarily for small offices, the self-employed or associations that use a personal computer (PC) to create or address letters.
Lockheed Martin UK, the prime systems integrator for this national project, collaborated with GFT UK. The companies combined postal products with two-dimensional bar coding, encryption, address recognition, and the best of secure, robust and scalable Internet banking technologies to implement the SmartStampTM solution for Royal Mail.
SmartStampTM customers can create personalised stamps on their computers, pay for them over the Internet, and print them onto envelopes or adhesive labels from their own desktop printers. Once the mail is prepared, most items can be posted in a traditional manner using a pillar box, a Post Office® counter, or postal carrier pickup.
Ian Stopps, chief executive of Lockheed Martin UK, said: Lockheed Martin has a well established partnership with Royal Mail. We are therefore delighted that we have been able to apply our expertise in integration and programme management to help our customer bring the SmartStampTM product to market.
Judy Marks, president of Lockheed Martin Distribution Technologies, said: Besides the 24/7 convenience of purchasing stamps online, a digital, PC-based franking service can offer other significant business benefits for the customer as well as national postal services. We're proud to be a key provider of this innovative, pioneering technology supporting worldwide e-business strategies.
Chuck Richards, director of sales at GFT UK, commented: This is a key digital technology for national carriers and we are delighted to have linked-up with Royal Mail and Lockheed Martin to create it. GFT believes this is a huge opportunity to use technology to reclaim the role of post in the 21st century, by offering users benefits such as branding and spending visibility.
Royal Mail intends to link the SmartStampTM service to its national mail-processing system, which is supported by the Address Interpretation (AI) recognition platform also developed by Lockheed Martin.
The SmartStampTM indicia -- or digital postage mark -- printed on an envelope or adhesive address labels will be read automatically by Royal Mail's electronic mail sorting technology, which Lockheed Martin's AI technology supports. The system includes the use of the Internet, virtual private networks, wide area networks, cameras consisting of advanced image capture devices, and automatic address interpretation.
SmartStampTM subscribers receive a CD-ROM containing a software application they download to their desktop computers. The programme is then used to create mailing lists and address envelopes or labels whilst a user is offline. The SmartStampsTM and addresses are then printed onto envelopes from the user's desktop printer. When users are ready to pay, they connect to the Internet and submit their order. The cost of the stamps printed is deducted from pre-paid accounts, which can be credit card or debit based.
Being able to respond to an individual customer's requirements -- known as adaptive services -- is the essence of a successful mail service in today's business world, Marks said. SmartStampTM is a good example of an innovative customer-facing adaptive service. Our work with GFT for Royal Mail is a gateway to a variety of future sender and recipient-controlled services. The ability to focus on the individual customer is made possible by training recognition technology to respond to an individual's mail service needs.
Business benefits for the UK customer include the ability to integrate the SmartStampTM service with contemporary desktop applications such as Microsoft® Outlook or ACT!® contact management databases. Because each SmartStampTM transaction is logged, and postage activity is broken down by sender and destination, users can keep track of how postage is used to budget better for future mail shots.
The SmartStampTM service aids customers by ensuring that mail items always have the correct postage -- just the right amount of stamps are purchased rather than overpaying by adding too many stamps. Long term, the SmartStampTM system will be a crucial component in using technology to curb postage fraud, Royal Mail officials noted.
SmartStamp is a trademark of Royal Mail.
Post Office is a registered trademark of Royal Mail.
Microsoft and Outlook are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.
ACT! is a registered trademark of Interact Commerce Corporation, a division of Best Software, Inc.
GFT Technologies AG (GFT) is one of the leading technology companies for integrated e-business solutions in Europe. As partner of long-term and established clients, GFT implements intelligent business models and innovative information technology (IT) solutions, from design to application management, that are based on most advanced technologies.
About Lockheed Martin UK Ltd.
Lockheed Martin UK Ltd. a unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, is a leader in systems integration working on major programmes spanning the aerospace, defence, civil and commercial sectors. In the UK, Lockheed Martin has annual sales in the range of £400-600 million working with more than 75 business partners. Lockheed Martin employs approximately 1,000 persons at more than 10 UK facilities including London, Havant, Southampton, Yeovil, Swindon, Hertford, Bristol and Cornwall.