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News Item: Britain’s Royal Mail revamps stamps for digital age

Britain’s Royal Mail rolled out postage stamps on Tuesday with special new digital features as the historic postal operator seeks to revitalise its core letters business in the internet age.

With customers increasingly turning to emails, text messages and other digital platforms to communicate, Royal Mail said it has introduced barcodes to sit alongside the head of Queen Elizabeth II on all of its stamps.

In the first instance, the barcodes would be linked to animated videos.

But their use could later be expanded to offer “operational efficiencies” and “security features”, suggested Royal Mail’s chief commercial officer, Nick Landon.

“Introducing unique barcodes on our postage stamps allows us to connect the physical letter with the digital world and opens up the possibilities for a range of new innovative services in future,” he said in statement.

Stamps currently in circulation without barcodes will remain valid until the end of January next year, but can be swapped for the new digital versions.

At the moment, the barcodes are linked to an animated “Shaun the Sheep” video which customers can watch by scanning the barcode with the Royal Mail app.

While Royal Mail’s core letters business continues to suffer in the internet age, it benefitted hugely during coronavirus pandemic lockdowns thanks to surging demand for parcel deliveries.

Set up more than 500 years ago, Royal Mail has experienced some of its most turbulent times during the past decade, notably its controversial privatisation in 2013.

It last month announced plans to cut 700 management jobs to slash costs, as it revealed that thousands of staff were off work with Covid-19.