The Pushing the Envelope blog recently described some of the barriers that have prevented the Postal Service from optimizing its network of retail facilities. This week we’d like your thoughts on the factors the Postal Service should consider in developing a retail network for the future. If the Postal Service were to rebuild its retail network from scratch — focusing on today’s consumer behaviors and needs — would it look as it does now? Today, there are about 32,000 brick and mortar postal-operated retail facilities. However, the Postal Service generates about 35 percent of retail revenue through alternative access channels. For example, customers can buy stamps and access postal services at http://www.usps.com/, self-service kiosks, grocery stores, retail outlets, and privately operated shipper locations. The availability of alternatives combined with declining mail volume and changing consumer needs has led the Postal Service to renew its efforts to optimize the retail facility network.
For decades, the Postal Service offered vending machine service to supplement its retail operations. Vending machines meet the needs of customers who want to purchase stamps without waiting in line.
While the lack of stamp vending machines has resulted in customer frustration and a surprising number of newspaper articles, the problems are particularly acute in economically depressed and more urban areas. Although Automated Postal Centers (APCs) provide many services including the sale of stamps and directly applied postage for First-Class letters, APCs require credit cards, which people in economically depressed areas often do not have. In addition, some customers find APCs to be intimidating to use. Finally, APCs sell only booklets of stamps or individual stamps in denominations of $1 or more, yet many disadvantaged customers may want to buy just one First-Class Mail stamp.Read More
Last Monday was predicted to be the busiest day of the year for Post Offices™ across the country. Have you visited a Post Office recently? If so, we would like to hear your story.
Why were you there? What worked well? What didn’t work well?
Has your local Post Office adopted any best practices that should spread across the country? Are there any low-cost improvements that would improve the retail experience?Read More
Source: Deutsche Post AG
A recent presentation by Deutsche Post describes the German delivery and logistics company’s efforts to transform its retail network. One particularly interesting innovation is self-service Packstations. Like the U.S. Postal Service’s APCs (Automated Postal Centers), these kiosks allow customers to ship packages. However, Packstations also provide 24-hour access for parcel pickup. Customers can register to receive their packages at any packstation in the country. When the package arrives, the recipient receives an e-mail or text message. Rather than rushing to the post office before it closes, customers can use their card and pin number to retrieve it at any time. This convenience is particularly helpful for people who have no way to get to a post office when it is open.
After blogging for several months, the Office of Inspector General wants you to know how it’s going. So far, we’ve posted seven blogs (including this one) and received more than 100 comments. There have been a number of thoughtful observations about the Postal Service, and the Mail Transport Equipment blog actually led to a tip that resulted in the recovery of some pallets.