Earth Class Mail (ECM) announced Thursday new digital services aimed at helping businesses streamline handling and processing of mailed documents and checks. Business clients can now organize and find digitized mail documents more easily with added searchable features, share mail content via email, and process payments received into newly added online accounting software integrations for Xero and Quickbooks Online.
The industry leader was the first company to recognize this need by creating the digital mail service market in 2004. Businesses select one of the ECM’s virtual addresses available in every state in the U.S. HIPAA-certified technicians organize and store a business’ mail at an Earth Class Mail facility, then scan mailed documents as a high-resolution, searchable PDF file. EMC turns business mail into searchable digital files that can be moved and processed as needed, and also offers check scanning and deposit, cloud storage, and mail shredding services.
Despite the dominance of the digital world, businesses still handle a lot of mail. The U.S. Postal Service alone delivered almost 15 billion pieces of mail in 2017. Earth Class Mail first launched as Document Control in Beaverton, Oregon, scanning incoming mail for clients and making documents available electronically. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington hailed the service as “a great idea” in 2005, and the startup was lauded in a high-profile review in The New York Times.
By 2007, Document Command and its consumer-facing web interface for postal mail called Remote Control Mail were rebranded as Earth Class Mail. The recession of the late 2000s coincided with a drop in company funding and Earth Class Mail declared bankruptcy in 2015. Scaleworks, a San Antonio-based venture equity fund that acquires and operates business-to-business (B2B) software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, acquired the company in 2016 from Xenon Ventures.
“Scaleworks acquired ECM at the end of 2016 because it was an established leader in a market that we felt was being ignored by software entrepreneurs,” said Ed Byrne, general partner and co-founder of Scaleworks. “The postal mail and documentation industry is old, very large, and sorely in need of innovation. ECM is literally one of the only companies doing that.”
Since joining Scaleworks, Earth Class Mail has increased automation as it pivoted from a customer-centric focus to a business one. The recent release enhanced the user experience on their platform and added integrations with commonly used business software most in demand from business customers. Earth Class Mail is also expanding its national network of virtual addresses, with at least one available in every major city by year’s end, according to CEO Jess Garza.
Earth Class Mail’s newly revamped customer interface with its improvements like easier sharing of mail content via email and added integrations with accounting software Xero and Quickbooks Online give business clients the ability to manage payments received by mail much more effectively, explained ECM’s director of product Nicole Hairston. After connecting security to one of these accounting services from an Earth Class Mail account, users can record payments to Xero or Quickbooks Online invoices with a single click.
“These accounting integrations can save you time by allowing bookkeepers to go into their [Earth Class Mail] account and deposit the check, then record it, all in the same platform,” said Hairston, who joined the company in May. “We want to make paper mail easier to manage and take action on and do for paper mail what Gmail did for email.”
New search features also allow businesses to organize mail more easily by adding tags to each document or check. The tags allow for faster searching across a company’s digital files, much like Gmail’s labeling feature works to tag an email, allowing for users to filter quickly for a list of specifically tagged items.
“Lawyers have hundreds of clients sending them mail, so they can organize mail items by tagging them for specific accounts or clients—or property managers can deposit and tag checks for a specific property,” Hairston said. “With this new platform, you can log into your account on your cell phone and find what you need easily and quickly.”
Since creating the digital mail service sector in 2004, some virtual mailbox providers have entered the market but do not offer the full range of capabilities Earth Class Mail provides.
USPS launched an informed digital delivery mail service in 2017 that sends residential customers an email with a scanned image of the envelope’s front. Their service does not open mail or process its contents and is not available for businesses. Virtual mailbox services like Anytime Mailbox provide the open and scan, mail forwarding, check deposit, and mail shredding services, but not at the enterprise level businesses require. None offer integration of digitized business documents with commonly used software services.
“The category we are in is office mail automation, there really aren’t any direct competitors,” Garza said. “Available services are directed at the individual consumer, while we are focused on our existing customer base and in supporting businesses with robust services that provide added value for our business clients.”
Garza came in late 2017 from Scaleworks portfolio company Assembla where she directed sales to lead ECM’s 50 remote employees and 13 based at its downtown San Antonio office as it seeks to transform the market. Headquartered in San Antonio, Earth Class Mail has its mail processing center in Beaverton, an engineering office in Chicago, office employees in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, and a developer team in Krakow, Poland.
Garza also said the company had an exciting announcement coming later this year.
“There’s more paper in offices that need to be handled,” Garza hinted. “We’re looking for more ways to help businesses manage the influx of information coming into their offices.
“From a strategic standpoint, this is not just about mail anymore.”
Featured image is of Earth Class Mail team members working in their headquarters at Scaleworks. Courtesy photo.