A microbusiness is just what its name implies. Very small. As in nine employees or less. But don’t let size fool you — microbusinesses are essential to the U.S. economy, making up roughly 75 percent of private businesses.
You can find microbusinesses in agriculture, law, and online marketplaces. They have a range of needs, some common to all businesses but some quite unique. For example, time and resources are in tight supply for microbusinesses.
So, what can the U.S. Postal Service do to better serve this growing segment of the economy? Is there a way USPS can enhance its products or services to support microbusinesses’ shipping and mailing needs?
We put those exact questions and more to a panel of experts at our November 29 roundtable event, Microbusiness, Macro Impact: The Role of the U.S. Postal Service in Microbusiness Solutions. The ensuing dialogue suggested the Postal Service, given its reach and ubiquity, is well-positioned to serve this market. But it needs to focus on the basics, while also being innovative and adaptive.
Nearly all our speakers, which included executives from an online marketplace, a county small business commission, a microbusiness marketer, and a professor directing a non-profit for global microbusinesses, encouraged the Postal Service to focus on service, reliability, and pricing, as well as timely and accurate scans of packages. That is, needs not so different from the USPS’s largest customers — but ones that can have a greater impact on smaller customers.
However, small businesses especially need convenience. And this is where the Postal Service could shine if it starts to think innovatively — for example, by dedicating a line inside a post office for small businesses dropping off packages. Or have a clerk available to answer questions from microbusinesses, such as how to start a marketing campaign. While artificial intelligence has a role to play — such as through online chatbots — keep the human touch, the speakers said.
Mary Anderson, USPS small business director, presented on the market potential of small and microbusinesses, and some targeted efforts in the coming years to engage with the sector. Chris Wheat, director at the JPMorgan Chase Institute, also presented on the strategies of his research team to identify and understand microbusinesses.
We held this event to gather information for a paper on microbusiness and the Postal Service. We’d love to hear from you as well. What ways could USPS better serve the growing microbusiness market?