• on May 7th, 2012 in Products & Services | 15 comments
    Semipostal stamps are nothing new. They have been used worldwide for over a century and here in the United States since 1998. The cost of these stamps includes a surcharge to raise funds for various charities or causes. When semipostal stamps were first introduced in the U.S., critics felt issuing these stamps would be wasteful because no one would pay extra for a stamp. However, these stamps turned out to be a successful fundraising tool. Although the additional surcharge does not directly increase the U.S. Postal Service’s revenue, the charities benefiting from the surcharge help generate an incentive to purchase these stamps. The Postal Service has issued four semipostal stamps so far: • The Breast Cancer stamp issued in 1998 has raised more than $73 million dollars for breast cancer research. • The Heroes of 2001 stamp raised $10.5 million between 2002 and 2004 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support families of emergency rescue workers killed or permanently disabled in the September 2001 attacks. • The Stop Family Violence stamp raised $3.1 million for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services between 2003 and 2006. • The Save Vanishing Species stamp issued in September 2011 raised more than $175,000 by the end of fiscal year 2011 for Multinational Species Conservation Funds. What cause, issue, or subject matters should the Postal Service consider for a semipostal stamp? Please let us know in the comments section below. This blog is hosted by the Marketing and Service Directorate.
  • on Feb 20th, 2012 in Products & Services | 11 comments

    The U.S. Postal Service launched its first mobile application for the iPhone in October 2009. On several occasions, the app was listed as one of the top 10 free business applications for the iPhone. Using this application, customers can find post offices, look up zip codes, calculate postage prices, and track packages. Nearly 985,000 customers have downloaded this application and more than 50,400 use it at least once a week.

    In January 2012, the Postal Service introduced mobile scanning, which is available on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 2. The app allows customers to use a device’s camera to scan barcodes on shipping labels for convenient tracking of their mail. The app also stores label numbers so customers can recheck the status of their shipments and can schedule a free next-day carrier pickup of packages.

    What has been your experience with the applications? Do they help you in sending and receiving mail? What app should the Postal Service offer next?

    This blog is hosted by the Office of Audit’s Policy Formulation and Financial Controls Directorate.
  • on Dec 12th, 2011 in Products & Services | 6 comments
    Every year, millions of Americans send holiday greeting cards through the mail to friends and family around the country. Usually this means a trip to the store to pick out cards, the Post Office to get stamps, sometimes even a photographer to capture that perfect holiday photo, and another trip to the Post Office to mail the cards. But now there are many options for creating a holiday greeting card that save both time and money. Not only are these options a potential boon to consumers, they are an opportunity for the Postal Service. Several years ago, Hallmark® introduced a hybrid greeting card that customers can order online. For one price, customers create a card by choosing a design and uploading their own photos and even choosing the day the Postal Service delivers the card. This year, Apple® introduced Cards, a smartphone application that allows customers to create and mail hybrid greeting cards directly from their iPhones. Still, for those who love the experience of shopping for cards, a number of Postal Service retail locations offer a selection of greeting cards allowing customers to buy, stamp, and send them from the same location. Offering holiday cards through multiple platforms has a number of benefits for the Postal Service and its customers. This type of multi-channel strategy provides customers with convenience and multiple options for using physical mail. If expanded to other postal products, such as Priority Mail or Standard Mail, this strategy could provide the Postal Service with an opportunity to grow mail volume for other mail classes and improve customer satisfaction by making other products and services easier and more convenient to use. Additionally, hybrid holiday cards, whether created from online or mobile platforms, represent a path forward for the Postal Service in the digital world. It shows that digital technology can compliment and not be the enemy of physical mail. So, should the Postal Service make efforts to apply this multi-channel, hybrid mail model to other postal products, and if so which ones? Do you plan to send your holiday cards this year using an online or mobile card builder or are you sending them the old fashioned way? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

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