• on Jan 21st, 2013 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 4 comments

    The U.S. Postal Service can play unique and positive roles in the expansion of the peer-to-peer marketplace, as suggested in a new OIG white paper, Peer-to-Peer Commerce and the Role of the Postal Service. American consumers are familiar with peer-to-peer (P2P) digital commerce and increasingly comfortable buying and selling that way. Millions of people place offerings and shop on eBay, Craigslist, etsy, and other sites every day. In recent years, the P2P segment has grown beyond these traditional product sites and now includes services from which users can rent a vacation room in someone’s house, lend or borrow a private car, or even hire someone locally for small jobs, such as baking cookies for a child’s classroom party or assembling modular furniture. However, there are a number of problems in current P2P commerce that may prevent wider adoption by the American public. Market participants face the challenges of balancing convenience with privacy and the potential for economic or physical harm. Some of these issues can be addressed through enhanced digital identity and authentication services, but there are other opportunities, which the paper presents. The paper describes P2P digital commerce and challenges and gaps in the current marketplace, including several types of fraud and threats to personal property and physical safety. It then identifies Postal Service products and services that exist today or might be developed in the future to facilitate market expansion. Current postal ancillary and special services, both physical and digital, are well suited to the P2P market. These include insurance, Registered Mail, Certified Mail, Collect on Delivery (COD), Track and Trace, Return Receipt and Return Receipt for Merchandise, Restricted Delivery, and other services. Please share your comments on this concept as well as observations on your own P2P experiences, if any, below. Do you believe a trusted intermediary such as the Postal Service could help in this segment? Please give us your comments below:

  • 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).