The rise of the PO Box and why UK businesses are turning to them

January 18, 2018
Explainers
by
Allan Chester

PO Box Addresses give both small and large businesses privacy at their place of work, whether that be a home office or a large call centre.

A ‘PO Box’ or ‘Post Office Box’ as they are sometimes known, are ever present parts of postal systems around the world. For many years, post offices have provided these mailboxes to give businesses and individuals privacy at their underlying address. Interestingly, despite global letters volumes being on the decline, the demand for PO Box addresses is growing year on year in the UK.

The graph below is extracted from Google Trends, which lets us see the interest in a topic based on people’s search volumes over time. It’s fairly clear that on the whole, the volume of searches and interest in PO Boxes are on the increase.

Business PO Box Interest Over Time
‍Figure 1. Google search volumes in the UK for the term “PO Box”

In this article we look at the type of business that historically use PO Boxes and the reasons why; plus how technology is changing the way we manage post, making services such as PO Box addresses more accessible than ever.

PO Boxes in the UK: Who uses them and why

Many of us will be familiar with companies that have a PO Box address. They’re often big business, call centres, banks and insurers etc. Why do they use a PO Box? The same reason many small businesses will: Privacy. These large businesses don’t want people turning up unannounced at their offices, and the simplest way to stop that is by using a PO Box Address.

The boom in micro businesses

The Federation for Small Business tells us that at the start of 2017 there was a record 5.7 million private businesses in the UK, and of that 99.3% were classified as small. In fact, the large majority of business population growth since the year 2000 has been due to non-employing or “Micro Businesses”.

“The majority of population growth since 2000 has been due to non-employing businesses, which accounted for 89% of the overall increase.”

src : http://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics

The benefits of a PO Box Address to a small business

Privacy at home

With many micro business owners working out of where they live, there’s an immediate need to protect their privacy at home. No one, regardless of the business size, wants unexpected visitors turning up at their home address. A PO Box gives you an extra layer of protection - it’s a shield and ensures that by going into business, your privacy at home isn’t compromised.

A professional image

Small businesses can, and do, compete against their much larger counterparts. In fact, big corporates go as far as actively looking to bring the small business mentality into their companies. They see that the personal touch, flexibility and understanding of local communities as desirable traits, and looking at some of the big banks’  TV ads will show you how much these big businesses yearn to appear “small”. Conversely, small businesses want to appear bigger and more professional, and a PO Box is the perfect vehicle for that. More than just offering a protective shield at a home address, a PO Box removes the nagging insecurity many micro businesses have -  that they look small. A Business PO Box Address gives them the confidence to go into bigger customers and opportunities, knowing that where they’re based won’t affect the chances of a sale.

A presence in a major city

A PO Box also gives small businesses the opportunity to have a postal presence in a major city without having to fork out for premises. This allows them to expand without significant expense and test out new areas before perhaps fully committing.

How technology is changing the way we manage post

The advancement of technology is an ever present today; it seems that new innovations happen on a daily basis and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that technology is also making its mark on the postal system.

Online Post Management

In the last 10 years, platforms such as our own have “virtualised” post, turning it from physical pieces of paper to secure data files which can be accessed from anywhere.

PO Box Locations

Historically you could only have a PO Box in the catchment area of your local Royal Mail sorting office - not anymore. We can provide you with a PO Box Address in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast or Poole. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can have an address in the UK.

Cost of a PO Box

When you go to get a PO Box from Royal Mail you can expect to pay at least £215 per annum (true as of Jan ‘18). It doesn’t matter if you receive one or a thousand letters, you’ll have to stump that up at least. Our approach is different and we think much better suited to small businesses. Our PO Box Addresses are FREE, with you only having to pay for the mail you receive. This means that if you just want an address for a bit of privacy and professionalism and don’t expect loads of post, you can still get a PO Box Address but pay a fraction of what it would usually cost.

Receive your post online

There are a couple of ways you can get your post from a Royal Mail PO Box, both of which come with their own issues. Firstly, the basic service lets you go in person and collect the post from the local sorting office. We all know how busy sorting offices can become and often choosing this option can mean multiple visits per week, and standing in line waiting for the post to be handed over. Secondly, you could choose for the post to be forwarded onto an address of your choosing. Whilst more convenient, it still requires you to have a fixed address that you visit frequently to receive it. What happens if you’re away on business for a couple of weeks or you move house? You’re going to miss things. This option is also more expensive and you can expect the costs to rise to £265 per annum for the added convenience.

How UK Postbox’s PO Box Service Is different

UK Postbox gives you a free PO Box Address and with access to our advanced mail management apps, you can read your post from anywhere at anytime. You also get the flexibility to forward the post to different locations on a day to day basis, so if you’d prefer for your post not to be scanned, you can have it sent to one place today and another tomorrow. This flexibility gives you complete control over your PO Box, no waiting in queues or missing important letters due to being away. Your PO Box and the post it receives is always at your fingertips.

Unlike Royal Mail's PO Box Addresses we don't restrict you to the area of your local sorting office, instead you can get an address in a selection of major cities around the UK.

Rather than charging for the address itself, we instead bill based on the amount of post you receive. A lot of our small business customers opt for a Pay-as-you-go plan, which means they only pay when a letter is received. If you expect to get more than 10 letters per month, choosing one of our Mail Plans will probably suit you better.

We’re here to help

We pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service and we think our high Trustpilot score reflects the efforts we make in this respect. Our UK based team is always on hand to speak with new and existing customers, answer their questions and look to solve any potential problems they may have.

Other services you might be interested in

Our Free PO Box Addresses are great in certain circumstances but can’t be used for things like a company’s Registered Office Address or a Directors Service Address. We do though offer a complete range of address options, all of which give you the online management explained in this article. For more information click a link below or get in touch to speak to a member of the team.

Free PO Box Address

London Street Addresses

Registered Office Address

Directors Service Address