• on Nov 2nd, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments
    In a world where speed is everything, a new product is becoming popular that takes it s-l-o-w. It’s called Future Mail. In China, several companies are offering to deliver mail as slowly as you want, — even weeks, months, or years into the future. No time machine necessary! Some customers are using Future Mail to send letters to their future selves, others use it to be sure their anniversary, birthday, or holiday greetings will arrive exactly on time. Future Mail customers simply fill out, address their cards, letters, or packages, and specify the date they want them delivered. These new companies will make it happen. One can even purchase gifts and flowers to be sent in the future. When signing up for the service, customers are assessed a fee depending on how long the company has to hold on to the deliverables. Customers must also provide current contact information, in case their item is undeliverable in the future. Once the letter or package is handed over, the company tucks it away in a safe place until the date selected comes around. Though some customers have concerns about what happens to their packages if the companies fail, the service continues to catch on. This unique service may prove to be a new revenue stream for the U.S. Postal Service. Do you think there will be a market for Future Mail here? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Sep 20th, 2010 in Delivery & Collection | 58 comments
    Although eliminating Saturday delivery has been heavily debated, reducing delivery to 5 days a week may not be enough. There has been some discussion of whether the viable model for the U.S. Postal Service of the future will incorporate 3-day delivery. A 2010 study by the Boston Consulting Group for the Postal Service forecasts that the average pieces of mail per delivery point per delivery day will drop from 3.8 to 2.8 by 2020. If this projection holds true, then more households will likely receive no mail on any given day. With the increasing availability of alternative communication choices, it is unlikely that the demand for mail delivery will ever return to previous levels. Therefore, postal delivery may only be needed 3 days a week. Some homes could receive mail on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, while others, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Delivery would still occur 6 days a week for Post Office boxes. This additional benefit for P.O. Boxes would meet the needs of customers who have need of 6-day delivery, while generating higher revenue and increasing traffic for the Post Office. For many customers in the future, the amount of mail they will receive on a given day may not warrant the effort required to check their mailboxes every day. Delivering 3 days per week roughly doubles the amount of mail a household receives on a given day, making the “mail moment” of receiving mail more significant. The savings could be significant. With the Postal Service estimating a $3.5 billion saving from cutting one day of delivery, cutting three days could save roughly $10 billion. An additional benefit of this every-other-day schedule is that about 50 percent of the mail will have an additional day to reach its destination. These savings can be realized through the use of less costly modes of transportation, additional use of hub-and-spoke mail consolidation network design, and additional load balancing for the mail processing equipment. What do you think? Can this model balance the need to be financially viable while meeting the needs of the public? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Aug 2nd, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 9 comments
    Deutsche Post graphic emphasizing online ordering and shipment integration.
    About a year ago, we ran a short blog about Deutsche Post’s Automated Packstations. Operated via touch screens, Packstation services include 24/7 customer pick-up and the ability to mail parcels and letters as well as print postage. When a parcel arrives, the recipient is notified via e-mail for pick up at the kiosk. Customers can have their packages delivered to a Packstation of their choice. Since our last blog, Packstations have caught on. The numbers have expanded, to about 2,500 Packstations in Germany and over 1 million registered customers. Typically located in high volume pedestrian areas along streets and in commuter rail stations, Packstations offer a myriad of customer choices for items being sent or received. Mailing a parcel from a Packstation is cheaper than mailing a parcel from traditional post office counters, and there is a bonus rewards program as well. Points are earned for sending a package, buying stamps, picking up a package, having a friend register or simply reading the online newsletter. The points are redeemable for shopping vouchers, stamps, and gifts. Austria Post introduced a nearly identical service in 2006. Estonia offers similar parcel terminals, and Dubai’s subway system has made a deal with DHL to install Packstations at certain stations. Can the U.S. Postal Service copy Deutsche Post’s success too? Automated package stations could be a great alternative to traditional post offices and fit neatly into the evolving internet economy – and provide real competition in the package business at the same time! How could this service help you? Would you have any concerns? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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