• on Jan 23rd, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments

    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.

    Poste Italiane introduced the Postepay prepaid card at the end of 2003. Over 5.6 million customers in Italy have used this reloadable card, which allows them to make purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs. There is a one-time fee of €5 ($6.44) for opening the account and adding funds to the card or withdrawing money costs €1 ($1.29) at an Italian Poste.

    A number of other posts have made their own innovative marks. Canada Post in partnership with BackCheck, now offers ID verification at their locations. Post Denmark, working with financial partners, signed almost 3.5 million users for its eBoks digital mail service, almost 2/3 of the population. Austrian Post operates a banking network called PSK BANK, which has trained financial advisors at every postal branch and offers services including:

    • Free bank accounts.
    • High-yield insurance products such as retirement planning products.
    • Eastern European stocks.

    Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

    This blog is hosted by the Information Systems directorate.
  • on Jan 9th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 6 comments

    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.

    Developing a geocode addressing system could have many benefits. Notably, it could provide every location in the world an internationally unique and permanent “address”. Such a system has important economic implications. Beyond supplying a physical address to residents and businesses located in countries without addressing systems, a common global standard could greatly facilitate international communications and transactions.

    This is particularly true as e-Commerce continues to grow across borders and the need for an addressing system that transcends national mailing standards and cultural and language barriers becomes more apparent. A geocode system may also complement the traditional street address system by providing more precise location information in cases where the location to which a package is to be delivered does not have a unique address, such as a specific room or cubicle.

    What do you think? Would geocoding improve the current address system?

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Blog Team.

  • on Dec 19th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments
    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. It is widely accepted that social media is most effective when used as a two-way communications platform, for example, when the company not only issues its messaging and listens for remarks from customers, but when the company uses the platform to respond to customers directly, engaging with them on specific issues. Also, many companies are now advertising their products and services on social media sites to tap into a group of consumers who spend a significant amount of time on the Internet. How can the Postal Service use social media to increase its customer base and revenue? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Network Processing team.

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