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What Pitney Bowes’ Partner Program And Google Android Deal Means For SMBs

100-Year-Old Pitney Bowes is attempting reinventing the age-old business mailing process. And that's more dramatic than it sounds.

Pitney Bowes hasn’t had to stray too far from its century-old beginnings as a business-to-business maker of “hand-cranked postage-stamping machines” with its latest update.

The company, which has long-since repositioned itself brand as a global technology and software company focused on business data, has rolled out Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud, a “commerce enabler” that provides access to all its solutions, analytics, and APIs in a simple dashboard.

The announcement was part of a series of product highlights Pitney Bowes previewed this past week at Google’s offices to highlight its partnership with Google on its G Suite on powering Android devices to help manage contact between between businesses.

Alongside Google G Suite, Pitney Bowes also said it would use the applications associated with with GeoMarketing‘s parent Yext (more details here about our relationship), Acquisio, DocuSign, and Nimble CRM to power its new cloud-based marketing system.

The goal of the new system is to seamlessly assist clients identify customers, locate opportunities, enable communications, power shipping from anywhere to everywhere, and manage payments.

Pitney Bowes Updates Its History

And that’s where the updating of one of its oldest business and marketing functions comes in: Last week, Pitney Bowes introduced the SendPro C-Series, which updates the traditional process of choosing and adding postage to mailings.

The new SendPro system lets offices instantly compare postage prices between Federal Express, UPS, and the United Postal Service. Aimed at small businesses, SendPro helps choose ideal sending option for every parcel, letter and flat a business mails, while also providing full tracking and delivering savings across carriers.

“What’s distinctive about this feature is that 85 percent of small businesses in the U.S. use a combination of FedEx, UPS and USPS, but the rate structure is so complicated,” Mark Shearer, executive vice president and president, Pitney Bowes Global SMB Solutions, told GeoMarketing before a press conference held at Google’s offices. “No normal human being can figure it out. And what all too often happens is that people spend more than they need to.”

Mailing Reinvented

Clients that use this Pitney Bowes solution can also  get up to 39 percent discount from USPS just by using that device, Shearer added.

The C-Series is based on the mobile Android operating system. The new Pitney Bowes Small Business Partner Program, and will allow the companies and their clients to deliver “a broad range of new web and android applications directly and rapidly to the device.”

“Creating this partner ecosystem gives our more than one million small and medium businesses and e-commerce clients the opportunity to use a broad range of cloud and mobile enabled business applications to better reach their clients, manage their operations more effectively and ultimately grow their businesses,” Shearer added. “Our digital platform creates an entirely new client experience and offers the flexibility to quickly add more partner applications and bring even greater value to our small business client base in the near future.”

Clients should view shipping and mailing are the “anchor tenant apps” of the new cloud marketing system, Shearer said. But the most exciting thing is what will come from innovation from companies like Google, Yext, and from small developer shops around the world.

Pitney Bowes is also hosting a hack-a-thon to promote its platform with the grand prize being a job working on our development organization.

“We’re trying to have fun with it,” Shearer said. “My background is IBM hardware and systems. What I found is every time we introduce an open platform, no matter what you have in mind, the industry will run with it in an unanticipated direction. So today’s announcement is really about  trying to encourage innovation on top of the small business platform.”

Pitney Bowes clients will get an Android tablet to manage their accounts and partner apps on the SendPro system.

“It’s the Android application ecosystem that we’re trying to inspire,”  Shearer added. “As an application platform, it’s just ubiquitous. It also has some really interesting impacts. With the old postage meter, every office had ‘Joe’ to manage it. Joe was the only one that could figure out how to use the postage meter. With this new device, anyone can manage their postage and track orders without having to ask someone else for help.”

In keeping with the way Pitney Bowes has evolved its focus on location data over the past two years to meet what it calls “the era of cognition,” the company will also be working with Yext to help manage location information. Earlier this year, Pitney Bowes created a new data unit that promised to make the seemingly infinite amounts of customer insights more manageable.

“We do have a lot of location intelligence assets and I do envision SaaS based applications that help our client’s target their market and better understand how to market to their current client base,” Shearer said. “We are using a lot of these technologies in our own relationships with clients. Now that the new devices are all cloud-based, we’re measuring everything. If clients are having a hard time with certain features, or are not fully exploiting the value, we’ll digitally cultivate their awareness of these features and help them use it.”

 

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.