on Jun 30th, 2014 in Products & Services | 7 comments
 

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard the term “collaborative consumption,” but even if it’s not, chances are you’ll be hearing it a lot more. It refers to an economic model based on renting, lending, and sharing goods instead of buying them. In fact, not long ago, Time magazine listed it as one of “10 Ideas That Will Change the World.”

Collaborative consumption is very popular among Millennials, who increasingly constitute a culture that likes to rent just about everything from clothing to tools. For one thing, rental prices are lower than purchase prices, which not only is nice on the wallet but also significantly increases the number of items from which to choose.

Rental culture is not entirely new – remember DVDs from Netflix? – but it is growing. In 2013, Forbes estimated the revenue from the sharing economy will exceed $3.5 billion, representing more than 25 percent growth over the previous year.

While people certainly do still buy things, especially online, the ownership culture primarily involves one-way shipping except for the occasional returns. Rental culture guarantees two-way shipping every time, or double the revenue, for carriers like the U.S. Postal Service.

Some think the Postal Service is already well-positioned to be a major player in rental culture shipping. It delivers to rural or remote areas at the same prices as urban addresses while other carriers charge more to deliver to rural areas. Moreover, the Postal Service’s roughly 30,000 post offices across the country mean renters wouldn’t have to look far for a shipping point when return time comes, or just put it in the mailbox for the mail carrier to take. And flat rate boxes mean renters immediately know the cost of shipping without having to weigh anything.

Tell us what you think: Do you use these kinds of rental services? How should the Postal Service actively pursue the rental-shipping market? Or do you think rental culture is really just a fad? 

7 Comments


First of all, $3.5 billion is .02% of the economy. Giving numbers context makes them seem much less impressive.
The sharing economy is turning out to be very much of a fad. Some aspects of it like AirBnB are simply schemes to avoid basic health and safety regulations. Others, like some textbook sharing schemes are driven by rent seeking in the original market and are simply riffs on rent seeking.
Arguing that the Postal Service is well positioned because of its 30,000 post offices seems more than a bit disingenuous. The postal retail landscape is being changed in ways that sacrifice and undermine any brand strength the Postal Service has built up because of its retail infrastructure.
Flat rate boxes are a fool's game in the long run. Eventually folks will figure out that for local and near local delivery they are a poor deal. The online discounting the Postal Service is engaging in will eventually undermine the current strategies. What happens when the PRC rightly decides that a 5.5% contribution rate on competitive products is way too low? Worse, what happens when institutional costs get reapportioned?
You folks at OIG seem to grab the latest trend with the vigor of a P.T. Barnum mark. Do yourselves a favor and read Jill Lepore's recent New Yorker takedown of the business theory of disruption.

I was looking at your site USPS I find this interesting although I've never been involved in this type of career but I have some general idea of consumer goods and merchandise and the way how items can be shipped on Fed Ex and USPS shipping manifest.

Very hopeless, non-customer-friendly international and occasionally domestic customer service, Non-responsive customer service reps. The most hopeless online tracking system which gets updated whenever they get time. I sent out a package to a local Post Office on 5/25/2014 for International Shipment. They charged me $170.95 for Priority Mail Express Services. 3 days later the system showed that
"Your item is being held in US Customs for further inspection. as of May 25, 2014 , 5:23 pm
Customs Clearance - ISC CHICAGO IL (USPS). The US Border Protection Chicago Office didn't get the package for inspection until 6/25/2014 and still no status of the Package and today - 7/1/2014.

NO WONDER THEY ARE IN DEFICIET FOR +3.5 BILLION DOLLARS.
AS A US CITIZEN AND A TAXPAYER I THINK WE OUGHT TO PRIVATIZE THIS MAMMOTH ARM OF GOVT SUPPORTED BUSINESS to get the better service, since US POSTAL EMPLOYEES FEEL TOTALLY SECURED WITH ANY KIND OR FORM OF SERVICES THEY PROVIDE AND THEY ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO ANYBODY.

THIS SYSTEM IS TOTALLY HOPELESS FOR INTERNATION

The Postal Service does not receive any tax dollars to function. It runs off of the money it makes from postage. Its deficit is largely due to pre-funding requirements placed on it by Congress. I am sorry your package is with customs, but US customs is not an arm of the Postal Service and actually is funded by your tax dollars.

Having lived in a rural part of the country between stints on the East Coast, I can appreciate the service that the local post office provides and how much I had convenient access to as a result. In areas where retail is limited, online shopping and rental services provide a great deal of value- add. The USPS should continue to explore their role in the world of online retail and rental services, particularly in areas where other shipping options are far and few between.

Hello again I believe that the USPS can benefit through collaborative consumption I notice this because of my customer service background I once toured the main Post Office in West Sacramento, California. The Site but it was so short term position I was involved in overnight parcels and I observed their operations in a massive distribution of periodicals that's were their clients order from because in the past I worked as a mail distribution clerk III for private industry firm and these millinials for example from Apple Company enjoy this products by using products online new markets are expanding globally from US enterprises to India, China, and other third world countries even in Brazil and Russia.

I have noticed stamps "made in America" and really like them however I am wondering why there are no stamps of women in this series. Such as women working in the canning factories. Women played a huge role in the making of America especially during the world wars. I think women should be recognized in this series too.

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