The U.S. Postal Service we know today looks much different than it did a century ago. Its delivery network — including curbside mailboxes and delivery vehicles — was originally designed to deliver letters.

With the explosive growth of ecommerce over recent years, the Postal Service finds itself focusing more on delivering packages to mailboxes and front doors across the country. The Postal Service delivered about 6 billion packages in 2019, doubling its volume over a decade.

In our newly released white paper, Package Delivery in Rural and Dense Urban Areas, the OIG found that package delivery isn’t a one-size-fits-all operation; it varies based on population density. Package delivery to street-level, suburban homes is relatively quick and efficient. In contrast, in dense urban areas or in rural areas it can be more challenging. Dense urban areas often have many apartment buildings, often resulting in mail carriers delivering parcels to individual apartments — a time-consuming process. In rural areas, delivery points are often far apart, and mailboxes may be located far from customers’ homes. This means rural carriers may have to deliver letters to the mailbox and then go all the way to a customer’s front door to deliver larger packages. Over the course of a route, this is also a time-consuming and costly process.

The OIG highlighted some opportunities to make package delivery in extreme environments more efficient and cost-effective. The Postal Service could consider installing more parcel lockers in certain urban and rural areas, cutting multiple trips to front doors. The Postal Service could also encourage larger curbside mailboxes and better track parcel-related operational data to promote efficiency.

What do you think? What can the Postal Service do to make package delivery more efficient?

Comments (7)

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  • anon

    The flat rate - preprinted on the box, 2 day delivery has got to catch up! Four days has become the “average” from Minnesota to Arizona. So I laughed out loud when the above article said “suburban homes is relatively quick and efficient” used to be, but NOT now. I swear it is the drivers who choose not to deliver the package on time, not the transporting from MN to AZ! For the price you pay, the service is not what it used to be.

    Oct 10, 2020
  • anon

    Especially in the city environment, USPS should partner up with locations that are open 24 hours like 7-11, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, bank ATMS, anywhere the location is well lit, secure and most of all, convenient to install secure parcel lockers for customers that work long hours during the day and are not home to accept or able to pick up at post office during the week and the USPS have notorious long lines and extremely short hours on Saturday for parcel pick up. The customer can choose from a list of available locations to have the parcel dropped off and secured until they can pick the parcel up, the customer must pick up the parcel within three (3) days or it will be returned to sender, it is not a storage unit, it is a pickup unit that is convenient and secure. The same can be done at rural areas but they do not have the issues of stolen parcels like the city environment does.

    Sep 29, 2020
  • anon

    The postal service calls them P.O. Boxes and commercial mail receiving agencies. The UPS store and Amazon logistics have already snapped up the prime locations.

    Oct 18, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS must implement changes to accommodate its post office box customers who are trapped by SmartPost and SurePost. Many retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, will not permit customers to enter post office box numbers into their online applications when placing orders. When UPS or FedEx drop parcels at the local postal station, instead of making delivery to the house address, the parcels are returned to the sender by the USPS as not deliverable or no mail receptacle. I have suggested renewable forwarding orders. You can generate revenue with my suggestion with no investment. Thank you.

    Sep 28, 2020
  • anon

    I have to agree with Gary. I have a home in Breckenridge Colorado. I try to put my PO Box on everything. However due to circumstances beyond my control I have packages without a PO Box number going back-and-forth between Breckenridge and Denver for over two weeks. Our local post office does not do home delivery. I have to have a PO Box at a cost of over $100 a year. In addition they save money by not doing home delivery. It would probably take someone less than 60 seconds to look up my post office box. I think it would be a real cost savings to just do this rather than send packages back-and-forth over and over again. I assume the objective is to teach us a lesson, but the cost to the Postal Service way exceeds that.

    Oct 03, 2020
  • anon

    Drones released from the tops of the delivery vans themselves would be the best. Workhorse electric vans would be providing green solutions that are also forward thinking. Let's get this moving so American's can be proud of their USPS again!

    Sep 28, 2020
  • anon

    If there are packages larger than customer's mailbox, perhaps a preprinted form could be in mail boxes to pick up at their local post office.

    Sep 28, 2020

Recent Comments

  • 8 hours 13 min ago
    How can the Post Office get away with this nonsense "Animal Interference" when not delivering a package on promised day of delivery?Do they really think we will buy this dishonesty?
  • 9 hours 15 min ago
    The real problem with carriers constantly lying about delivery is that the customers have no recourse when they do not receive their package. You can't get your money back because tracking says...

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