• on May 9th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 1 comment
    Globalization is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, people sought better ways to correspond and trade over great distances. In recent times, a number of key forces emerged to fuel globalization. Perhaps most important, technological advancement like the internet, personal computers, mobile devices, and global positioning systems (GPS) energized globalization at an unprecedented pace by facilitating instant information transmission, regardless of distance, at a decreasing cost. The result was a dramatically changed business environment. Businesses and governments, capitalizing on new technologies to improve efficiency, trade, and financial performance, spurred international policy integration, operations standardization, and deregulation and privatization of many public monopolies like power companies. The postal services were no exception. The competitive pressures resulting from an increasingly interconnected marketplace such as the rise of integrators and electronic substitution created profound changes in the postal service ecosystem, which both threatened traditional mail segments and created new opportunities. As a result, the postal sector entered a new era that stimulated many foreign posts to adapt their business model to enter novel markets, diversify product offerings, and develop opportunities in non-traditional sectors to stem the posts’ declining mail businesses. Here are some options that foreign posts are already exploring:
  • E-commerce – Connect global shippers and consumers by extending customs clearance services to new products, offering international mailers access to domestic U.S. shipping, billing, or IP addresses for the easy purchase of U.S. goods, and creating competitively priced small parcels and packet products.
  • Border-free solutions – Provide global-direct retailers a cost-effective method to clear customs and remit duties, taxes, and shipping costs to the appropriate parties while providing an end consumer one total price. Consumers will flock to a provider that can deliver an affordable product with superior logistics, returns, payment, security and authentication services globally.
  • Logistics strategies and alliances beyond national borders – Collaborate with private carriers and other posts to provide the end-to-end service and comprehensive, world coverage that customers increasingly expect.
  • Foster exports-based prospects for Small to Medium Enterprises – Launch an integrated, multi-channel platform of e-commerce services and customized solutions that allow these companies to easily expand their export business online while reducing cross border costs and language barriers. Marginalized groups – Cater to the specific needs of citizens left behind by globalization by addressing underserved areas with a lack of infrastructure and technology necessary to connect to the global economy, provide cash card redemption, and distribute government services.
  • Bilateralism – Negotiate improvements to the Universal Postal Union rates posts pay to one another as well as enact direct entry and worksharing agreements to better meet customer needs and maintain profitability. Diplomacy can drive mutually beneficial outcomes even as globalization increases competition in liberalized home markets.
  • Global citizens – Develop a lean, one-stop integrated communication and transaction services including digital/physical address link, e-mailbox, digital concierge services, hybrid and reserve hybrid, digital currency and bill presentment. Ultimately, by reinventing itself as the comprehensive “communications platform,” the Postal Service can better serve an increasingly globalized American people.
  • Security concerns – Solve security and law enforcement challenges for consumers concerned with protecting sensitive information. Since an internationally accepted standard for user authentication and identity management does not currently exist, the Postal Service could leverage its trusted brand to develop a secure platform for sensitive messages and transactions.

  • Which option do you think for the most promising for the Postal Service to pursue? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Mar 14th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 13 comments
    How can the Postal Service solve its financial problems? What is the future role of the Postal Service at a time when digital alternatives are replacing many of the functions of hard copy mail? These are the questions facing policymakers and the postal community. Sometimes the best way to answer serious questions is to ask even more questions. A deeper look at foundational issues can provide valuable guidance for reaching the right decisions. Last month, the OIG issued a white paper Fundamental Questions for the Future of the Postal Service. In the paper, we pose eight questions that we think are fundamental for determining the role of the Postal Service in the 21st century: 1. What is the nation’s essential need for the Postal Service in the 21st century? 2. Is a profit-driven business or a national infrastructure best suited to carry out the Postal Service’s mission? 3. How should the nation’s Postal Service be financed? 4. What is the proper governance model for the Postal Service? 5. What does the universal service obligation mean? 6. Does monopoly-financed universal service assist or harm the Postal Service? 7. Should the Postal Service be allowed to expand into nonpostal services to supplement monopoly shortfall? 8. Should the Postal Service have additional social responsibilities beyond its core mission? We are raising these questions not to provide answers but to spur discussion. We want to hear your views. What do you think the right answers are? Have we left any fundamental questions out? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Jan 17th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy, Uncategorized | 10 comments
    Coopetition, is a buzzword cropping up in many business publications these days. Basically, it means that competing firms look for ways to cooperate with each other, rather than compete head-to-head for business. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service, the United Parcel Service (UPS) now has a program that allows customers of participating retailers to return merchandise by dropping it in any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, or at any post office. The program features a special label that makes the service possible. After a return package is dropped off at a Postal Service location, a UPS driver picks it up and the UPS ground network transports it back to the retailer. UPS, which has its main air hub in Louisville, KY, began testing the service last year with a few retailers and is expanding it because of “positive response.” Some say this is an example of successful coopetition. There are a number of other current partnership programs with competitors. The Postal Service acts as a “last mile” partner for both UPS and FedEx, handling thousands of deliveries. Federal Express performs similar duties for the Postal Service providing air service for Postal Service parcels domestically as well as providing international logistics for the Postal Service’s Global Express Guaranteed service. In certain conditions, coopetition can be a “win-win-win”; helping not only the two businesses, but also the consumer. Do you think these partnerships benefit the public through greater efficiencies or hurt the competitive level? Let us know what you think! This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
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