• on Dec 3rd, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 6 comments
    The U.S. Postal Service is about the best in the world at providing its core service of mail delivery. In fact, its ability to deliver mail and return undeliverable mail to the sender effectively makes the United States government one of the most efficient in the world, according to a working paper by National Bureau of Economic Research. A group of economists rated the efficiency of the world's governments with a simple test of their postal systems. The group mailed fake letters to nonexistent businesses in 159 countries and waited a year to see which were sent back to a professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. The goal was to use a simple, universal service to explore why, other than corruption, developing countries tend to have poorly performing governments. All the letters went to countries that subscribe to the Universal Postal Union, which requires that incorrectly addressed mail be returned within a month. The United States was one of only four countries to send the undeliverable letters back within 90 days, along with El Salvador, Czech Republic, and Luxembourg. In fact, the U.S. had the fastest return rate at 16 days, although it may have benefited from returning the letters to an address in the United States. It also returned 100 percent of the fake-addressed letters. The study was not intended to assess the Postal Service, but the results do highlight some of its key strengths, at least compared to foreign posts. Foremost, better classification systems for addresses tended to result in faster returns, the economists noted. The Postal Service uses uniform address standards and its address database is among the most robust in the world. Again, this was not the study’s intention, but the results seem to support the Universal Postal Union’s (UPU) position that a national addressing system is essential to the economic and social advancement of countries. In its recent white paper, “Addressing the World – An Address for Everyone,” the UPU says that in many developing countries, physical addresses exist only in city centers. Without physical addresses, it is difficult to impossible for public services and businesses to reach their intended targets. “A quality address infrastructure must be considered as an essential part of a country’s socio-economic infrastructure, not only for improving public services, but also facilitating business, trade and, consequently, national development,” the UPU says. How important is an addressing infrastructure to government efficiency and business development? What parts of addressing does the Postal Service do particularly well? What could be improved? Share your thoughts.
  • on Nov 26th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 18 comments
    This holiday season many of us will find ourselves rushing from one errand to the next, often visiting a variety of stores to accomplish all of our tasks. Wouldn’t “one-stop shopping” be easier? Wouldn’t it be nice to get everything from shopping to wrapping to shipping taken care of in a single trip? Locations offering a multitude of services potentially increase foot traffic because of the convenience they offer. They also create opportunities for the company to sell more products and services to its customers. In other countries, such as Sweden and Australia, the trend has been toward placing postal counters in grocery stores and pharmacies, often located in shopping malls. Customers can buy stamps or ship their packages while they are shopping for food and other staples. In the United States, grocery and other retail stores sell stamps at check-out counters, but do not offer shipping options. Office supply and other approved shipping stores offer a range of Postal Service mailing services including Priority and Express mail. Customers find that using these stores for their mailing needs saves time and effort because many of these retail outlets have longer hours than post offices and are conveniently located. E-commerce and mobile commerce have proven to be a popular choice for consumers who enjoy the convenience of shopping at home. Online retailers ship directly to the purchaser’s home, or wrap and ship gift purchases directly to their recipients. If customers want to wrap the package or gift themselves, the Postal Service’s Carrier Pick-up service will retrieve the package at their doorstep for shipping. While e-commerce and mobile commerce can offer purchasing, wrapping, and shipping from home, some people prefer physically browsing and purchasing items from brick-and-mortar retail outlets. This holiday season, a shopper might first visit a retail outlet to make your purchases, go home and wrap the gifts, and then go back out to ship the item. That's at least three trips and two lines, just to send one package! Does shopping, purchasing, wrapping, and sending your item in one stop sound better? With postal counters in strategic locations, all of your needs could be met in one stop. Would gift-wrapping services be an added bonus? If Post Office functions could be moved into retail spaces, what areas or types of stores best lend themselves to this effort? Share your ideas in the comment section below.
  • on Nov 19th, 2012 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 5 comments
    Twenty years ago, when professional sporting teams started selling naming rights to their stadiums and arenas, many purists called it a low point in the commercialization of sports. But today, the number of arenas and ballparks not named after a corporate sponsor is small. For revenue-seeking team owners, it is just too hard to pass up the money that comes with selling your stadiums’ name. Strategy, business development and marketing all play huge factors in naming-rights deals, with top prices for these deals reaching about half a billion dollars, according to Sports Business Journal. As a business-centered organization looking to boost revenues, does the U.S. Postal Service have opportunities to sell naming rights? The idea of selling the naming rights to an entire Post Office might not be palatable to Congress, as lawmakers like to name post offices after fallen soldiers or local heroes. But what about selling space in parts of the Post Office? For example: this retail counter brought to you by XYZ Co.? Sides of vehicles or automated postal centers in high-traffic areas of retail centers could also hold valuable advertising space. With its national reach, yet local presence, the Postal Service is visible in every community nearly every day. Companies and nonprofit organizations would likely find the opportunities to reach such a large audience appealing. Another option might be to appropriate advertising space to other government agencies. For example, a state health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could use space on postal vehicles or in retail lobbies to announce a public health campaign. The Department of Energy or local governments could use retail space to tout energy conservation practices to citizens. This approach would also tie in with a larger vision of using post offices to connect citizens with other government services. Would such offerings tarnish the Postal Service’s image and degrade what is still considered a public institution held in the public trust? Or should the Postal Service think creatively about new ways to use its large physical network? Would naming rights be an easy way to generate revenue in tough economic times? Or should the Postal Service focus on its core business?

Pages