on Nov 19th, 2008 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 29 comments
 

The Woodfield Station located in Schaumburg, Illinois is an innovative, new retail environment that tests the limits of how the United States Postal Service interacts with customers and sells products and services. Dubbed the “Retail Learning Lab,” this completely redesigned post office serves as a testing ground for new products, new methods of serving customers, and new models for partnering with commercial businesses.

The site features specially designed, free-standing self-service shipping areas, an expanded retail product display, several Automated Postal Center (APC) kiosks--some equipped with barcode scanners--and a DVD rental machine. It also features a comfortable seating area with free WiFi access, conference room rental, and an OfficeMax IMPRESS "store-within-a- store" offering office supplies and print and copy services.

A significant feature is the open retail environment which encourages associates to interact differently with customers. Most customers are greeted at the entrance by an associate who offers to help meet the customer's needs for his or her visit. If appropriate, the employee escorts the customer within the store and offers solutions or explains how to complete tasks.

Would you be more inclined to visit the post office if it offered a greater variety of self-service options? What if it offered services like WiFi and DVD rental?  What other innovations would you like to see at the post office locations?

29 Comments

This looks like the wave of the future. Something like the old internet cafes. I think it's a great idea. We need to think out of the box and head in the direction that businesses are going. I applaud the postal service for venturing forwared.

Very Intersting

I like the future of post office. Would like to see helpful, happy sales people who work there!

I love the idea! I would like to see the old P.O. go new and offer e-certified mail, e-registered mail, etc... The USPS has a great opportunity to capture/replace revenue lost by declining mail volumes... offering e-certified services could actually replace the fax machine and I know legal services/law enforcement/government/legal transactions such as closing companies etc... would love to use a guaranteed e-certified service for all their legal documents and faxes... Think about providing a service that we can charge postage for, yet never have to touch... it would enhance First Class service as well as generate needed revenue...

I like the idea of a new post office but the photos above aren't convincing. My ideas come from my experiences with USPS facilities in inner city neighborhoods. Here are some of my ideas:

1) Color- the great is such a horrid color. Every time I go to my post office I think this place could be so much nicer if it wasn't "government gray" with nothing welcoming or warming.

2) Lighting- how about lighting that is welcoming instead of strip lighting? Energy efficient lighting is a plus.

3) Supplies- I think the stocked office supply area is a great idea. How about having basic USPS supplies stacked as nicely and as easily accesible. Every time I go to the post office I have to wait in line just to get a priority mail box.

4) Open layout- I know this may not be practical (i.e. bullet proof glass is a part of the inner city experience) but having the ability to actually see your customer is important. Maybe use higher counters or other measures to help keep employees safe.

5) Cleanliness- My post office is just old and worn out. It needs a super cleaning.

6) Pens- Yes, something as simple as pens that WORK at the counters would be great!

7) PO Box- How about a 24 hour PO Box area?

8) Automated Money Order Machines- Its no secret that Post Offices also serve as banking services in poor neighborhoods. How about a money order machine that will make the regular lines shorter and make it easier for people to get money orders for bills etc.

9) Multi- Lingual Signs- No surprise here but the country's population has CHANGED! How about signs that reflect that diversity and help people know what to do?

10) TV- TVs (with advertising) can help long lines seem shorter. They do this at stores!

11) Email Stations- 15 mins. max useage areas with computers.

12) WiFi Area- Seems like a waste of space in the design above.

13) Automated package delivery- Scan your package receipt and have it delivered automatically via conveyer belt or some other device. This technology should exist and it would save lots of time. One key concern would be security (i.e. checking ID etc.).

14) Team Work- back to the basics. How about having staff work in teams during busy times. One agent can work the front desk and simply gather package slips and this can be fed to the package room where an elecronic display helps staff in the back look for packages to bring to the front. The line appears to move faster and staff can be friendly when doing their job!

This experiment could reveal the likelihood of migrating simple retail transactions away from the counter; however, as product offerings become more complex, can an APC or associate answer complex questions about simple transactions? I submit the answer is no. Consider the Priority Mail flat rate box which is great if you're mailing rocks. If you are not mailing rocks and show up at the Post Office for free mailing supplies, which Priority Mail box do you select - the regular or the flat rate? Same product and service, different rates. Of course, the answer depends upon the combination of weight and destination zone. In this example, the right answer might also prove difficult to find at the counter, but I hope the Postal Service's retail strategy is not based on obfuscation. If so, does that help explain customers taking their self service elsewhere?

I think this is an excellent idea. I do think that the deployment of various ideas should be geographically/demographically based. What works at one location may not work at another and vice versa.

the main p o in omaha took out its stamp vending machine ,good way to loose more customers...

I also regret the removal of our stamp vending machines. The consequence of that decision at our office appears to be longer lines in the lobby, with a large increase in single stamp and single booklet sales. Those were the type of items usually purchased in the machines, especially after hours and on the weekend.

...Just add coffee! Lease space to Starbucks and you can get a latte and mail a letter!

You are lucky to still have a post office some of our towns and Villages. Have had they post offices closed down.

I like the coffee idea. Would spend hours there if they had an nice cup of coffee ;-)

I totally agree! Just add coffee, donuts? and maybe some little crunchies that anyone can enjoy while passing time. :)

I'd be definitely be more likely to visit a post office more if there was more services available, or even if there was enough employees to keep the waiting time down to a minimum :P

i am not really a huge fan of the post office, although i do frequently go and use the automated shipper because the lines are always just so long.

Since a lot of small businesses use the post office, maybe a library of books dedicated to small business that would include resource books on government programs, business marketing and business planning. Coffee idea good too : )

Very neat and futuristic looking - a bit cold though. Coffee shop is definetely a good idea.

wow my post office doesn't look anything like that...anything to make things more efficient, I'm all for it.

Wow! This sure would take the sting out of going to the post office! I know many banks are going this route too. Can we get a doctors office like this?

amazing website i liker your work

Clearly, post offices must evolve or they face a doomed future.

Great publishing i liked your job, post offices must evolve or they face a doomed future

Internet cafe? Coffee? The Postal Service's greatest asset is that we are so accessible. Every carrier is your access to the Post Office. Rural carriers are like mini post offices that come to you everyday. They sell stamps mail your package, they just can't do a passport. Yet the Postal Service doesn't advertise this. Why, probabaly because the public can't tell the difference between the types of carriers. If all carriers had the ability to do what the APC does (take a credit and debit card transaction) we would have litterally thousands of Post Offices around the country and they come to you! I think the Post Office should stop following others by replicating past great ideas and have a unque idea of their own. Great businesses know how to look at their strengths and build on them. The Postal Service should continue to reduce brick and mortar locations and build on their strengths. That is the way to move ahead in the future.

It's good to gradually modernize the post office and with the advent of technology is inevitable and is not used as much as in the past. Still can innovate new services and attract new customers. Greetings.

Seems to me that ......there are several industries besides the post office that are operating under a outdated "physical structure"and the push to partner with like situated business groups needs to be accelerated .. A long term connection with several physically struggling industry groups might prove remarkable & profitable

great website i liked. there are several industries besides the post office that are operating under a outdated “physical structure”and the push to partner with like situated business groups needs to be accelerate

A long term connection with several physically struggling industry groups might prove remarkable & profitable

Could put educational videos such as what to do with philately. good Idea

Great work, gradually modernize the post office and with the advent of technology is inevitable and is not used as much as in the past. Still can innovate new services and attract new customers.
Jesus Castillo Como Subir la Masa Muscular

Add new comment

This site provides a forum to discuss different aspects of the United States Postal Service and how it can be improved. We encourage you to share your comments, ideas, and concerns.

This is a moderated site—we will review all comments before posting them. We expect that participants will treat each other with respect. We will not post comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks of any kind, or offensive terms that target specific individuals or groups. We will not post comments that are clearly off-topic or that promote services or products. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted.

We ask that reporters send questions to the USPS OIG Media Office through their normal channels and refrain from submitting questions here as comments. We will not post questions from reporters.

We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Federal resources effectively, however, we will review comments and post them from 9:00 a.m—5:00 p.m Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. We will read and post comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on holidays as early as possible the next business day.

To protect your own privacy, and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information or personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the body of your comment.

Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on this forum (or any other forums available via an RSS feed) are those of the individual bloggers. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, or the Federal government.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy and disclaimer. We plan to blog weekly on as many emerging new media topics as possible. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.