• 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 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 Jul 6th, 2009 in Strategy & Public Policy | 27 comments
    In developing countries, postal services are often critical to reaching a vast underprivileged populace. How do posts in these countries cope with the tension between their universal service obligation and financial viability? A look at today’s India Post offers some insights. First founded under British colonial rule 150 years ago, India Post connects India’s people through a network of more than 150,000 post offices. More than 80 percent of these post offices are in rural areas, where residents primarily depend on postal services to communicate with the outside world. In India’s urban areas, however, middle class consumers have options. They also rely on the professional services of private couriers or the Internet. India Post has shown consistent losses. In recent years, private-sector competitors have siphoned off revenue, and costs have risen dramatically. Not surprisingly, given its financial difficulties, India Post’s widespread rural presence has drawn a lot of criticism. The Indian Government subsidizes more than half the cost of rural post offices, but they are still unprofitable. Critics argue that many are unnecessary and should be closed. Another common prescription for India Post’s losses is privatization. Proponents believe that privatization would improve the quality of services. To improve its financial condition, India Post is experimenting with options such as providing investment and emailing services to customers in rural areas. It already runs the largest savings bank, with a customer base of more than 170 million people. Rural and urban post offices also offer a variety of insurance products. Another initiative is micro-finance. In some rural areas, India Post offers loans to small businesses that may be denied credit by mainstream banks. Many of these services have helped offset India Post’s losses while at the same time providing financial services in deprived areas. There is hope for India Post’s future profitability. India has experienced phenomenal economic growth in recent years, and as a result, there is great potential for growth in postal services. To capitalize on the opportunities of India’s economic progress, India Post is trying to cater to the demands of the growing business sector by providing international money transfers and other services. In urban areas, India Post is exploring providing access to ATMs and non-postal retail services like train and bus reservations. India Post could also consider expanding these types of services to rural areas. The rural population would greatly benefit from these and other services such as faxes and electronic money orders. There are many options for India Post to leverage its network. By improving its infrastructure, technology, and customer service, India Post can continue its important role in India’s economy. What kind of a business model should India Post adopt? Do you think India Post’s experience providing universal service has any lessons for the United States Postal Service? This blog is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • Pages

    This site provides a forum to discuss different aspects of the United States Postal Service and how it can be improved. We encourage you to share your comments, ideas, and concerns.

    This is a moderated site—we will review all comments before posting them. We expect that participants will treat each other with respect. We will not post comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive terms that target specific individuals or groups. We will not post comments that are clearly off-topic or that promote services or products. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted.

    We ask that reporters send questions to the USPS OIG Media Office through their normal channels and refrain from submitting questions here as comments. We will not post questions from reporters.

    We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Federal resources effectively, however, we will review comments and post them from 9:00 a.m—5:00 p.m Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. We will read and post comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on holidays as early as possible the next business day.

    To protect your own privacy, and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information or personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment.

    Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on this forum (or any other forums available via an RSS feed) are those of the individual bloggers. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, or the Federal government.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy and disclaimer. We plan to blog weekly on as many emerging new media topics as possible. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.