• on May 16th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 21 comments
    Advertising mail is a core product for the U.S. Postal Service. It is an important way for businesses to reach their customers, but many local small businesses and others underuse or avoid advertising mail. The rules, rates, and regulations can be complex and confusing. For saturation mailings, simplified addressing allows businesses to use a simple “Postal Customer” address instead of a full street address. While the Postal Service has tested a number of simplified address products in the past, early this year it rolled out a national product available for all “flat-size” saturation mailings. In a recently released white paper titled Simplified Address Mail: An Easier Way for Small Businesses to Reach Local Customers, the Office of Inspector General, Risk Analysis Research Center lays out the advantages of the simplified address mail concept, which could potentially bring in over $1 billion in new revenue if fully implemented. Among the paper’s key findings:
    • Simplified address stems from the Postal Service’s core, hard-copy mail delivery business and could help keep mail relevant in an increasingly digital world.
    • Adding profitable simplified address mail volume could lower average unit costs and make universal service more affordable for all current and potential mail users.
    • Simplified address makes advertising mail easier to use and far less expensive for organizations that have traditionally shied away from directly using the mail.
    • Simplified addressing has long been the standard practice among foreign posts and often accounts for a significant proportion of their mail volume. The Postal Service has been the sole exception.
    The key to realizing all the benefits of simplified address mail depends on how the Postal Service implements the program. It must actively be promoted to small businesses and others and it must be made as easy as possible for customers to use. So, what do you think? Would you be receptive to receiving advertising materials for the restaurants, stores and services in your local neighborhood? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Apr 25th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 5 comments
    While many posts, including the U.S. Postal Service, are downsizing due to shrinking domestic markets, China Post is aggressively expanding. By the end of 2015, the China Post Group plans to extend universal service to all villages, increase urban residential letterboxes, and add 300,000 jobs. This development presents an opportunity for the Postal Service to partner with China Post to expand the reach of both posts, as the demand for end-to-end solutions between the Chinese and U.S. markets grows. The major factors that fuel expansion and justify development are an increasing residential delivery network, major growth in small-to-medium enterprises (SME) and exports, and a developing direct marketing industry. The Chinese government also fosters China Post’s growth by permitting non-postal activities like banking and shielding some profitable segments of the express mail market from competition. Although industry players question the legality in an international context, China Posts’ Express Mail unit has the exclusive rights to a profitable product segment. Together these factors guarantee steady mail volume increases and help China Post secure a position in the burgeoning direct mail industry, e-commerce market, and other non-postal sectors. By tapping into its far-flung network of post offices to provide customers a wide range of services in one convenient location, new opportunities will emerge for China Post as well as the Postal Service. The Postal Service is taking action to capitalize on these opportunities. Last year, the Postal Service introduced a new, small-packet product targeting China’s small, lightweight exports, such as electronics and apparel. The Postal Service also signed a memorandum of understanding with China Post and eBay to provide an end-to-end, e-commerce solution. Earlier this year the Postal Service hosted a 20-member China Post delegation to discuss the direct mail industry. As the demand for postal products and services grows with China Post’s expansion, the Postal Service is uniquely positioned to establish a partnership that connects and fosters Chinese and U.S. markets. What other opportunities do you think the Postal Service should pursue with China Post? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Apr 19th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 14 comments
    Although the digital option has grown as a channel for Americans to communicate, purchase, and store personal information, there are drawbacks that leave a significant portion of the population underserved. To meet the population’s needs and “bind the nation together” in a digital world, the Postal Service must modernize its role. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center has completed Part 2 of a series on the Postal Service’s role in the digital age. Building on the first white paper which explored the facts and trends impacting communications, The Postal Service Role in the Digital Age – Part 2: Expanding the Postal Platform, presents a strategic positioning framed by three guiding principles: •Promoting solutions for the communications problems of the digital age •Using the core competencies and assets of the Postal Service •Considering the policy implications of the strategy based on the current legal and regulatory environment Using an “eMailbox” that links a physical address to an electronic mailbox for every citizen and business, the Postal Service could build a digital platform that supports communications and commerce for postal, governmental, and commercial applications. The paper provides six additional initial applications for consideration, including: •An eGovernment application that promotes the expansion of government services throughout the postal platform and uses the eMailbox to send and receive secure and official communication with federal agencies. •Tools for identity validation, privacy protection, and transaction security that allow users to verify the individuals and businesses they are communicating with, the safety of their personal information, and security of their purchases and financial transactions. •Hybrid and reverse hybrid mail that allow senders and receivers to convert digital documents to physical and physical documents to digital. •Enhancing services for the shipping and delivery of secure online purchases through flexible pick-up and delivery options, expanded payment choices, and a cost calculation that includes all charges and fees for purchases (even international) at the time of sale. •Digital concierge services that use the eMailbox to integrate an individual’s physical and digital communications in a single place. These services act as a type of secure “lock box” and help manage the “information overflow,” providing quick access to important communications and other personal documents (such as medical records and wills). •Develop a network to buy and redeem cash and digital currency at Post Office™ locations and online. To learn more about the strategy and specific areas the Postal Service should consider, click here to read the paper. Do you think the Postal Service has a role in the digital age? Would you use any of these applications? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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