You can’t cut your way to prosperity. It’s a common saying in business circles, particularly in the mailing industry. The U.S. Postal Service has done a good job cutting costs, yet still needs to grow revenue with new products and services.

Indeed, recent reports suggest a sure way for a post to boost revenue is by offering customers a range of innovative products, such as parcels, logistics, banking, insurance, and digital services. Many of our papers have encouraged the Postal Service to explore these kinds of revenue-generating products and services.

Yet diversification doesn’t necessarily mean wandering too far from the mission, or reinventing the wheel. Good ideas can be found close to home, using existing assets. Our most recent paper, Revenue Opportunities for Innovative Mail Services, presented some ideas that could take advantage of the Postal Service’s existing network, brand, excess facilities, equipment, or other assets.

For example, we looked at International Mail Forwarding (IMF), a service that provides recipients a U.S. address from which packages and mail can be collected, held, digitally scanned, or shipped anywhere in the world. This booming business – a current U.S. market of over $1 billion from service and shipping revenue – is expected to grow even more because foreigners need a U.S.-based address to buy online from U.S. companies. Given the Postal Service’s reputation for being secure and trustworthy, and its experience in international delivery, it could grow quickly in the IMF market, our research indicated.

We saw another opportunity in continuity shipping, a service where a consumer agrees to receive merchandise automatically at regular intervals until canceling the shipments. This established and growing segment of the retail industry is an integral part of eCommerce fulfillment because it helps automate merchandise shipment and return. Given the Postal Service’s expansive facility and transportation networks, and experience with parcels, it is in a strategic position to offer continuity shipping services.

These types of products would take advantage of the Postal Service’s existing assets and experience. In addition, they open the door to further innovation and value-added services. Are there other innovative ideas that are similarly “close to home” and worth exploring? Do you think these types of ideas have merit? Is there value in smaller revenue products or should the Postal Service not waste time on smaller projects? 

Comments (14)

  • anon

    Have lived in same private home for over 30 yrs. In the last few yrs have had many different mail men with no problems in the last yr thought there is a female postal worker who is just nasty! I have a note posted on my mail box asking mail men to please leave pkgs against opposite was because pkgs can become wedged between opening storm door and part of house making exit incase of fire impossible! I have even taped a note on ghe handle which I watched her rip off and ignore. Since I cant get answer in Mt Vernon NY by phone (no one picks up) and the girl won't give tlk to me I have no name for her but she delivered mail to my house on 1/20-1/21/2017. I would greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter before it becomes a deadly problem . Thank you for your attention.Pm282

    Jan 26, 2017
  • anon

    Just Give up! You have adequately demonstrated that you can no longer do the job in today's reality. The biggest black hole in your system is Hazelwood MO. and you seem to be totally oblivious to the massive incompetence of this facility. I live in Glenarm, IL and if something is mailed to me from Springfield (12 miles away) IL, it takes over 10 days to get to me because it is routed through Hazelwood. They lose and damage packages. Nothing seems to get in and out of that facility in less than 3 days. Just declare bankruptcy already, and get out of everybody's way.

    Feb 17, 2016
  • anon

    increase reliability. As a customer the number one problem is parcels not tracking properly. SCAN. As a carrier we are held accountable for scanning packages, but the standard doesn't hold in the plants. Packages are never scanned, and at times, parcels don't move at all. We have the largest and best infrastructures in the world as a service, but if it isn't worked properly, it just flounders. SCAN THE PARCELS. This lack of scanning not only costs the postal service in lost business, but also the businesses that ship with us suffer to no end. SCAN THE PARCELS!! If you would like a detailed point of view as a customer, please contact me asap. The postal service has no clue how the failure to scan and track properly affects small businesses such as mine. I'm an employee, I also spent close to $60k in postage myself last year.

    Feb 15, 2016
  • anon

    The first way to increase revenue for the post office would be to actually be reliable!! I have mostly switched to using FedEx whenever possible, USPS just isn't reliable and dealing with your customer service is like pulling teeth from a grizzly bear, not to mention the fact that the average time to talk to someone on the phone is roughly 45 miniutes(if they don't disconnect you or transfer you three times). I found that most packages I ship out with usps end up with inadequate tracking information, and I haven't had one yet in the last 6 months that hasn't had at least one issue. This is the latest: shipped out a priority Mail international package from my local post office in Michigan on February 4th, only tracking information from that point said in route to sort facility, finally updated on February 21st and says it is at the sort facility in Chicago. Really!!! That's a 3 1/2 hour drive from my post office, how can that take 17 days??? So understandably The gentleman that is expecting this package is very upset. How do I explain to him that our post office Can't do their job? This package still has to go across Canada. How much longer is that going to take? I probably wouldn't be so upset if this was the first time it's happened in quite a while but it's happened every time I have sent a package in the last six months! I'm sorry but it really doesn't surprise me that you're losing money and customers. I cringe every time I have to mail a package with you anymore and I only do it as a last resort. And I'm definitely not the only one that feels this way but your service just continues to go down hill.

    Feb 22, 2015
  • anon

    Just an update, I have opened a Another case on this. I have also spoke to consumer affairs and they are not willing to do anything. I did speak to someone and got the number for the regional manager here in Michigan and left her a message, but still no call back in almost a week. This is just completely unacceptable. The US Postal Service needs to get their act together. Oh, and my package still hasn't made it to its destination.

    Feb 28, 2015
  • anon

    It took me calling the Consumer advocates office in Washington to FINALLY get a call back from my district office. I was thirty days in to my complaint process. I was sent to phone numbers that weren't answered and my messages were not returned. Call the Postal Headquarters and ask to be transfered to the Consumer Advocate. (202) 268-2500

    Mar 02, 2015
  • anon

    I'm not sure where to post this, but it is an "idea" and potentially revenue-generating. I've had my mail (and now my identity) stolen twice in the last year. They used a method I hadn't thought of - they simply submitted a change of address. After receiving a change notice, the post office sends a postcard to your "old" address to alert you in case it's fraudulent, but USPS automatically starts forwarding mail 7 days after the change notice - that's not enough time for the postcard to get to me (through the mail) and for me to call the post office and the postal inspector and get the forwarding order stopped. For example, bar coded mail (just about everything these days) is pulled for forwarding much earlier in the pipeline, so even if the nice lady at my post office promises she won't forward anything, she can't help me, because machines earlier in the system are forwarding my mail before it even gets to my local post office. As I said, this has happened to me twice, and now I deal with fraudulent charges, credit applications, and so on, on a weekly basis and have done so for over a year. I've had to apply for a "freeze" through the credit reporting agencies, which helps a bit, but I still have to deal with the phone calls telling me about the fraudulent applications, go through every credit card statement with a fine-tooth comb (someone recently bought an ipad at Target using one of my credit cards - they ordered it online and simply chose the "pick up at store" option, and walked out with it!), change my credit card numbers every time there's a problem (which is a pain because of all of the 'auto-pay' things we have set up these days), file police reports, and create elaborate and ever-changing passwords for every account I have online. Think it's too hard to change your address with the post office? Not at all. You can do it online. If you do it online, the USPS "safety" feature is that they want a credit card number to charge a $1.00 fee to "prove" you are you - you wouldn't have your credit card number if you weren't you, right? Wrong. If someone has my credit card number and my current address, they've just been given the keys to take over my mail. And everyone has your credit card number and address these days - doctor's offices, online retailers, the guy who mows your lawn. But enough about the problem. I think there's an easy solution that could also make the post office some money. Offer a service to mail-theft-adverse customers like myself where, for a fee, your address cannot be changed unless you present two forms of photo id (one has to be a passport), a password the consumer set up when they applied for the service, and answer three security questions (also set up when the consumer applied). Benefit to consumers - identity thieves are not going to be able to forward your mail. Period. Benefit to USPS - First, revenue from a new service offered to consumers. I would gladly pay $1, $5, $25, $50, $100 annually for this service. Second, cost savings from not having to stop fraudulent forwarding orders and not having to investigate the mail theft. I spent hours on the phone and emailing with the local inspectors. At one point, I even asked my representative in Congress to contact the USPS on my behalf. I can only imagine how much time/money the USPS spent on just my two cases. Mail theft and identity theft are not going away and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has been a victim of fraudulent mail forwarding. I hope someone will seriously consider creating either a mandatory or optional, fee-based service that restricts a person's ability to submit an address change through USPS.

    Feb 10, 2015
  • anon

    You think that in 2015 that a more cost effective way to deliver mail would be mail boxes at the end of the driveway or sidewalk. This would cut down on mail carrier's getting hurt, from the weather, dog bites or other incidents. All new subdivisions are cost effective today. You would think that in the long run this would save a lot of money.

    Feb 09, 2015
  • anon

    When looking up the postage for square 6"x 6" folded invitation cards, I found the web site unclear, so I called the 800 number for guidance since this was a time sensitive piece, waiting just over 40 minutes to get through to a customer service representative. "Paul" tried to help with the site and was not able to find the answer either. He then turned to his supervisor for help and, another 15 minutes later, confidently told me that it was $0.34 + $0.21 for a total cost of $0.55. So imagine my dismay when a third were returned for insufficient postage from my local Mount Vernon, WA post office. I talked to "Fernando" at this local office who told me "Paul" was wrong and that I should have used the web site. Full circle and now I am REALLY frustrated. Should I physically walk in with a piece? Should I have asked for an employee number of the agent and his supervisor? This has really been a hardship on my small business.

    Feb 06, 2015
  • anon

    Hello Paula, Thank you for contacting our offices and we truly apologize for the inconveniences that you have experienced so far. The role of the USPS Office of Inspector General is to investigate waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS). Please contact your local Postal Service Consumer Affairs office, which is separate from the customer service line, at (253) 214-1800 so they can look further into this matter for you. As well, if you still would like to file a complaint with our offices, you can do so on our hotline at www.uspsoig.gov/form/new-complaint-form and we can forward your issue to the appropriate department.

    Feb 17, 2015
  • anon

    I think if the overall customer service was there, you would have more people using USPS. Your rates are better, but some people don't choose the hassel. Always lines at the P.O., and unhappy clerks, with unwillingness to help, also not knowledgable. The 800 hotline for USPS, and the email system is less to be desired. The email hardly works, and if it does, the time frame in which someone responds is awful. All the 800 number does is refer the problem via email to your local post office. Why would I want to even go thru the hassle of calling the 800 number if I can just talk to my local post office? Also, why do we not answer the phones half the time at the post office locations?????? Just discussted.

    Feb 05, 2015
  • anon

    Like the stamp at the start of this article. Make it real. Use it to communicate the new USPS to the public.

    Feb 04, 2015
  • anon

    Hi, I frequently purchase products form a local company ( about 25 miles ) near my home. I live in Sturgeon, MO, and the comapany I order from is in Columbia, MO. Every package sent to me from Columbia, MO first goes to either Hazelwood, MO, or Kansas City and then all the way to Columbia, MO before being sent to my local ( Sturgeon ) PostOffice. It has taken several days for a single small package to make it 25 miles. This is very inefficient because the package ends up being hauled aover 300 miles instead of the 25 miles it actuall only needed to go. Why is this? It can't be because of a "need" to be "sorted" at either locations because I think all post offices have scanners and it's a simple matter to update the software and same millions of wasted miles of hauling items.

    Feb 04, 2015
  • anon

    Hello Renee, We apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced. The USPS Office of Inspector General investigates waste, theft, fraud and abuse within the Postal Service (USPS). To inquire further into this situation, please call your local Postal Service Consumer Affairs office at (314) 436-4280.

    Feb 05, 2015

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