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One Small Step for USPS…


The USPS has taken a small step into the 21st century with the rollout of a new priority mail program that may help it compete with other package carriers. After years of catastrophic revenue losses, the beleaguered agency is looking to turn things around by becoming an attractive option for delivering goods purchased online. It hopes to bring in $500 million per year as a result of the changes, which will make it easier for businesses to ship and track packages. The WSJ reports:

The agency is now offering free online tracking for priority-mail shipments, free insurance and date-specific delivery so customers know whether a package will arrive in one, two or three days….

The changes to priority mail will help the Postal Service better compete with rivals FedEx and UPS in the increasingly lucrative area of shipping products purchased from online retailers, said Nagisa Manabe, the service’s chief marketing and sales officer.

“We’re looking at strong underlying growth as Americans increasingly shop online,” Ms. Manabe said in a conference call with reporters. She estimated the sharp pace of growth would continue “well past 2020.”

Well, it’s about time. The USPS has long been losing customers as email and other electronic communication reduces the amount of mail individuals and companies send. Last year junk mail comprised nearly half of its total mail volume. The effort to become a  player in online shopping suggests that the USPS is at least aware that paper mail is a dying business, and is looking to take advantage of one area where the information economy actually encourages the shipping of packages.

Still, the move may be too little, too late. Unfortunately, the agency needs congressional approval for the more serious changes needed to put it on solid ground. Congress has repeatedly rebuffed USPS attempts to reach solvency by cutting Saturday mail delivery or closing underused post offices. Over the past few years, Congress has made it abundantly clear that it is more interested in the patronage opportunities afforded by regional post offices than in actually solving the problems of one of America’s oldest institutions.

This needs to stop. The USPS appears to be making a good faith effort to solve its problems, and it’s time for Congress to let it try.

[Postal delivery trucks image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Corlyss

    If the USPS has a marketing officer, they ought to fire him/her.

    • foobarista

      It has 535 of them in Congress. 536 if you include His Obamaness. Unfortunately, none of these people particularly care about the USPS as a “business”, and run it with the attention to mission that characterizes state-owned enterprises everywhere in the world.

  • NCMountainGirl

    This has been happening for some time now. I do a lot of shopping on-line and I’d estimate that over 90% of what I get is shipped via the USPS.

    • Pete

      I shop on line, too, and almost all orders over $100 seem to be shipped to me via FedX or Brown.

      And as far as Internet buys go, I have no complaints about any of the delivery services including the U.S. Post Office.

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