snailmailr is Brilliant!

snailmailr

I recently discovered snailmailr, a nifty website that lets you send real mail (i.e. “snail mail”) online for only 99 cents per letter, postage included.  As you can see from the picture, the interface is dead simple.  You can write your letter with their online editor or you can attach a Word Document, PDF, Powerpoint Slide, etc.  They use laser color printers, 100% recycled paper, and even purchase carbon offsets for their paper use.  And it works internationally.  You can opt to pay 10 cents extra to have the snailmailr.com logo removed from your envelope, and you also have to pay about a quarter extra for every page over 2 pages, but that’s still pretty reasonable.

Cool right?  I mean, there are definitely times late at night or in crappy weather when I’d rather spend the 99 cents and fire out a letter like it’s an email and be done with it (in my apartment complex the mailboxes are quite a walk).  I also don’t always have a printer available.  I can see how this could be incredibly useful for someone who is constantly traveling, especially internationally.  Or if you rarely send letters and don’t feel like keeping stamps and letters in stock.  Or if you flat out don’t have a printer.  It really is useful in a lot of scenarios.

Here’s the best part though, the part that left me kicking myself and will probably do the same to you:  the startup costs for this business are almost zero.  Any of us could have done this.  It serves a pretty big need. One that amazingly isn’t really being met elsewhere.  I’m almost stunned that no one has done this before.

Granted, a laser printer costs a few hundred dollars.  The paper costs a few bucks, as does the postage.  And you have to be reasonably tech savvy to throw together the website.  But nothing that any of us couldn’t have taken a legit shot with for under $1k.

I did some searching and wasn’t able to find out who started it or who has funded it (other than some guy named Kevin who left a comment on a blog post review…Kevin if you’re out there, drop me an email).  But there’s no reason that this couldn’t be started by a student or part-time entrepreneur.  It’s one of those rare examples where the startup costs are low but the upside is very high (and scalable). 

The downside is of course the low barrier to entry.  Can anyone think of a better way to do what snailmailr is doing?

14 comments on snailmailr is Brilliant!

  1. Mark W. says:

    Hi Adam. Thanks for the heads up on this service. It could become handy at certain times as you say above. I’ve never used Amazon payments even though I have an Amazon account. Is there an extra fee involved? I was thinking PayPal but it doesn’t look like Kevin offers that form of payment. I watched the video ( http://snailmailr.com/about/press ) over at his site and the name Kevin Trowbridge came up at the end. I googled the name and found a web developer in SF, CA (same location as the business) by that name ( http://kevinmtrowbridge.com/ ). Who knows. I think I would definitely make my name available on my business web site. I mean where’s the trust if I’m supposed to give the business my name and access to credit card or Amazon payments? It makes me wonder. A better way to do what Kevin is doing? Offer the service for 89 cents. Other than that, you don’t really think I’d tell you, do you? 🙂

  2. JF says:

    What about privacy? I guess it’s better not to use this service to send sensitive information?

  3. Rob says:

    I thought of this years ago, but soon found someone offering it so didn’t bother. That said, googling them now I can’t find them… I did however find this company:

    http://www.postful.com/

    Similar prices, lots more options. Somewhat more complicated to use though.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for sharing Rob. Postful looks interesting, definitely a ton more options. If I just wanted to send a letter I’d probably use Snailmailr just because it seems so much simpler. If I was going to do a mass mailing of post cards to everyone in our Detailed Image database I’d consider checking out the API on Postful. Nice to know there are options.

  4. Rob says:

    Wow, more googlings have turned up a whole host of services. There’s something about snailmailr’s simplicity and sleek web 2.0 look that does it for me though, this truly shows the power of branding!

    For other services see http://www.labnol.org/internet/email/send-postal-letters-on-internet-via-email/7097/ for a breakdown of the main players.

  5. Dave says:

    I found this site a few days ago as well and thought it was really cool. I found them offering up this alternative service for international orders:

    http://getsatisfaction.com/snailmailr/topics/is_this_service_provided_internationally

    http://l-mail.com/

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Sorry about the delay in your comment going up Dave – got stuck in the SPAM filter.

      That’s awesome that he referred the customer to another service. That’s a business I want to support. Someone who is truly trying to help the customer get the solution that’s best for them, even if they get nothing out of it.

  6. Any Hanes says:

    I am using PostalMethods. This is a service for businesses who want to automate their mailing so I use their web services (they call it Postal API) to send letters and postcards directly from my billing system and CRM.
    Works perfectly!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for sharing Any!

    • Anthony says:

      I’m most familiar with PostalMethods, and it’s a great service for API-based snail mailing. They’re part of a larger offering of API-based offerings, like InterFAX.net; we use InterFAX to automatically send faxes to the warehouse when an order is placed

      • Adam McFarland says:

        Good to know. I could certainly see being able to send letters and/or faxes via an API as useful for a lot of projects.

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