• 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 Oct 14th, 2008 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 66 comments

    The Automated Postal Center (APC) is a self-service kiosk typically placed in Post Office lobbies to provide customers with a convenient alternative to the full-service counter. APCs offer customers a wide range of postal products, services, and information.

    Based on the user’s direction via touch screen and PIN pad, APCs can weigh and rate letters, flats, and parcels up to 70 pounds. APCs dispense variable rate postage in any denomination for Express, Priority, First Class, International (under 1 lb), and Parcel Post Mail. APCs also provide customers the option to purchase Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, Insurance, Certified, and Return Receipt services. APCs allow customers to print Express Mail forms and perform ZIP Code lookup. APCs accept debit, credit, and EBT cards for payment and generate a receipt.

    Many APCs are available 24 hours, 7 days per week. There are 2,495 APCs in use today. In its Strategic Transformation Plan, the Postal Service set a goal to double the percent of retail transactions conducted at alternative channels, such as the APC. However, in many cases consumers avoid the APC, and continue to come to the retail counter for transactions.

    • What would motivate you to use the APC kiosk or the internet to purchase Postal products?

    • What other service options could make it easier for you to mail a letter or package?

    We invite you to join our discussion by clicking the "Comments" link below.

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