A recent post on the blog Dead Tree Edition made an interesting observation: The once-exploding U.S. e-book sales have slowed considerably, according to R. R. Bowker, a marketing research firm targeting publishers, booksellers, and librarians. How can that be? Aren’t we on a preordained path to a digital world?
As it turns out, early buyers of tablet computers and e-readers were initially skewed toward people who read a lot. These early adopters bought more books than recent buyers because e-books generally cost less than their physical equivalents. Today, some market segments, such as textbooks, seem destined for digital dominance, while others, like children’s books have barely dented the e-book market.
The number of book shipments by mail is small compared to the shipment numbers of other postal products. However, if e-book sales are slowing down, this may mean a slowing of the diversion of book mail to digital download.
Could the same trend happen with much larger volume postal products? Will the adoption of electronic bill payments, electronic bills and statements, or, even electronic correspondence start slowing down? The answers could make a huge difference in the outlook for the Postal Service. What do you think?
A leading book on business strategy and innovation claims, “through innovation, business organizations can change the world.”
A 2010 study on global postal innovation by Capgemini states “there is a general tendency among all postal operators to diversify by investments outside their core business (mail, parcel),” especially into the logistics and financial services areas. Among European operators, Poste Italiane, Swiss Post, Deutsche Post DHL (Germany), and Austrian Post, in particular, have increased their share of non-core business.Read More
Traditional addressing systems rely on subjective identifiers like street names and business or residence numbers. These addressing systems have generally offered the U.S. and many foreign postal services an effective means to identify pickup and delivery locations. However, recent technological innovations related to digital mapping have led some to consider the adoption of an addressing system based on geocodes.
Unlike traditional postal codes, such as a ZIP code, a geocode is not a subjective descriptor, but a series of letters and/or numbers based on the physical location, or latitude and longitude coordinates, of a business, residence, or even point of interest. For example, under a geocode system, location of the USPS OIG headquarters may be identified by a single number such as 35602.1092.4393 which contains information about the latitude (38° 53′ 45.996″) and longitude (-77° 4′ 14.6784“) of the building.
With mail volume decreasing, the U.S. Postal Service is coming up with new ways to reach out to potential customers. As one of the latest and most effective trends in customer outreach, more and more businesses are embracing social media outlets to engage the public. Presently, the Postal Service has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but is the agency using them effectively?
According to the Postal Technology International, September 2011 issue, effective use of social media is at the heart of many successful businesses. With so many potential customers spending time on social media websites they have become an increasingly important means of reaching people. Consumers use social media sites to seek advice from their online peers and communities about what products and services are best. Companies have the opportunity to find out what consumers are saying about them, so they can gain insight into what people want in a product or service.Read More
The U.S. Postal Service owns or leases more than 33,000 facilities with approximately 284 million interior square feet (SF). These facilities are in virtually every community throughout the country and range in size from 55 SF to 32 acres under one roof. We visited 717 of these facilities as part of 10 facility optimization audits and identified over 21 million excess SF of space. During our subsequent national facility optimization audit, we statistically projected that the Postal Service has about 67 million SF of excess space nationwide.
In addition to an abundance of space, recent audits have disclosed that there are unmanned or underused windows in post offices around the nation, as well as more workhours at retail facilities than needed based on fiscal year 2011 workloads.
The solution most often suggested for dealing with these excess resources is to consolidate and close facilities. In fact, the Postal Service is in the process of identifying both retail and mail processing facilities for closure or consolidation.Read More
Out of 23 posts in industrialized countries, the U.S. Postal Service is one of the few remaining posts not offering an eMailbox solution to its citizens. And while there are private sector technology industry standouts in the U.S. that have developed widely popular e-mail and secure storage services, their business models sacrifice consumer privacy in the interest of ad-based revenue generation.
In an increasingly digital world, it may make sense for the Postal Service to offer eMailbox services in addition to traditional delivery. A consumer would also be able to sign up for an accompanying highly secure data storage area service called the eLockbox, which would provide added security for the archiving of important legal and personal documents with anytime, anywhere secure access. Today many electronic documents, especially financial records, reside primarily on the banks or billers Web site and not with the consumer.Read More