Beyond meters

Marc Lautenbach, chief executive of Pitney Bowes, is shown in 2013. Image: The Wall Street Journal

Pitney Bowes is going paperless.

The Connecticut company whose postage meters are found in mailrooms around the world wants to get into the business of helping retailers process orders and ship packages.

“Very few things are quite as profitable as a mail meter, but software is one of those businesses that actually has very attractive margins,” chief executive Marc Lautenbach told The Wall Street Journal recently.

Pitney Bowes sells or leases three-fourths of the nation’s postage meters, but as mail volumes decline, the company wants to shift gears.

Sales at Pitney Bowes have fallen in four of the past five years, to $3.6 billion in 2015, the Journal reported.

The company is aiming to get into so-called cross-border online commerce, where consumers in one country buy products online from retailers in another.

Experts say success won’t happen overnight.

“This is a multiyear journey. It’s not something we would expect to see immediate progress on,” said George Tong, an analyst with Piper Jaffray Cos.