• on Jan 16th, 2009 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 14 comments
    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.

    Deutsche Post already has 1,500 Packstations in Germany and is planning to add 1,000 more. What do you think about Packstations? Would you use one?

    Should the U.S. Postal Service look into providing 24-hour parcel pickup? If so, how? What about combining APCs with parcel pickup?

  • on Dec 29th, 2008 in OIG | 19 comments

    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.

    Our most successful post so far has been "Self Service Mail Technologies". More than 150 people participated in the survey questions about Automated Postal Centers (APCs) — the Postal Service’s self-service kiosks. As the charts below show, as of the time of this post, 76 percent of participants said they were aware of APCs, and 81 percent said they would be more likely to use the Postal Service if self-service machines were conveniently located where they shop. We intend to incorporate your survey responses and comments into our work on APCs.

     Are you aware of APC?  Pie chart:  76 percent yes; 24 percent no

    Would you use APC if located where you shop?  Pie chart:  81 percent yes; 19 percent no

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and please continue to comment. We’d also like to hear your ideas for new blog topics. What topics should we address in 2009? We welcome your suggestions.

  • on Nov 19th, 2008 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 29 comments

    The Woodfield Station located in Schaumburg, Illinois is an innovative, new retail environment that tests the limits of how the United States Postal Service interacts with customers and sells products and services. Dubbed the “Retail Learning Lab,” this completely redesigned post office serves as a testing ground for new products, new methods of serving customers, and new models for partnering with commercial businesses.

    The site features specially designed, free-standing self-service shipping areas, an expanded retail product display, several Automated Postal Center (APC) kiosks--some equipped with barcode scanners--and a DVD rental machine. It also features a comfortable seating area with free WiFi access, conference room rental, and an OfficeMax IMPRESS "store-within-a- store" offering office supplies and print and copy services.

    A significant feature is the open retail environment which encourages associates to interact differently with customers. Most customers are greeted at the entrance by an associate who offers to help meet the customer's needs for his or her visit. If appropriate, the employee escorts the customer within the store and offers solutions or explains how to complete tasks.

    Would you be more inclined to visit the post office if it offered a greater variety of self-service options? What if it offered services like WiFi and DVD rental?  What other innovations would you like to see at the post office locations?

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