Singapore Post unveils smart letterbox and trackable stamp prototypes
By Aliyah Sahni

Missing parcels, delayed delivery and overflowing letterboxes might soon be a thing of the past.

Singapore's postal and logistics service provider, SingPost (Singapore Post) has unveiled a prototype of a smart stamp and a smart letterbox - which are said to be the first of their kind in the world. 

The smart letterbox essentially functions like a vending machine, which can dispense letters, packages and parcels.

In the new system, the mailman will drop off all the packages for an area at the letterbox. The system will then automatically sort and then store the mail in a specific unit. Once the mail is ready for collection, an electronic alert will be sent out to the recipient of the parcel.

The user can then either scan a QR code using their mobile phones or use an access card to collect their mail at a time of their convenience.

The aim is to reduce human error, improve productivity and ensure an efficient and sustainable delivery of mail and e-commerce parcels.

SingPost's smart letterbox prototype. /CGTN Photo

SingPost's smart letterbox prototype. /CGTN Photo

As per the data shared during the showcase, on average SingPost delivers three million pieces of mail a day and the system is primarily optimized for letter delivery.

Vincent Phang, the CEO of Postal Services and Singapore emphasized that the ever growing e-commerce market and the resultant increase in parcel deliveries is both a "challenge" and a "potential opportunity" for SingPost.

"Traditionally we are a mail service provider, but we have seen an increasing amount of e-commerce items that have actually come through us. I think there is an opportunity for us to look at some of the structural improvements, some innovations," Phang said.

"It is important for us to be agile to meet all these challenges in the future, so this is just a concept of what we believe could be the vision of the future of post," he added.

The surge in e-commerce transactions has also led to an evolution of customer expectations. Users now want to regularly track the movement of their items. 

To meet this challenge, the team at SingPost have developed a smart stamp. This would allow both the sender and receiver to track their parcel at all stages of delivery in real time, using a data matrix or QR code.

Currently, a vast majority of current letters and mail, and occasionally e-commerce items are untracked.

"We move approximately three million items a day, and that becomes a bit of a challenge. Let's say we have a unique identifier on every stamp that gives us the opportunity to now be able to track every single delivery through our entire system," Phang said.

He goes on to highlight that "once done the sender, the recipient and the article are all locked into a closed loop system."

"It is tracked through our system, through the sortation machines and it offers the opportunity for us to provide notifications. It also offers better security on where and how this will be delivered."


As Vincent Phang described it, the current system of delivery is essentially "a man with a van." If implemented, the new system will help change that and improve SingPost's carbon footprint.

It is also expected to considerably benefit postal service workers.

"It helps us in upskilling the jobs and careers of the people we have working in our team. This is also a technical implementation, and there will be technicians who will be involved in making sure the system runs perfectly," he added.

When asked about a possible timeline and next steps, we were informed that SingPost is in discussions with the authorities, but there are no concrete implementation plans as of now.