• on Aug 31st, 2015 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 0 comments

    If you’re like most people – say, the 64 percent of American adults who own at least one smartphone, according to Pew Research – you probably do a fair amount of online browsing wherever you happen to be. Increasingly, mobile is not just an extension of the web experience but rather the focal point of it: All signs point to mobile driving e-commerce’s future growth.

    Way back in 2009, the U.S. Postal Service developed USPS Mobile, an app that allows consumers to find the nearest Post Office, schedule a pick-up, put their mail on hold, or track packages. USPS Mobile is comparable to apps developed by Postal Service competitors, but a new white paper we’ve just released has found that the time is ripe for the Postal Service to “catapult its mobile offerings from functional to fantastic.”

    Working with a digital-mobile strategy expert and a marketing analysis firm, we identified five ways to enhance USPS Mobile and five new apps. These 10 ideas could help the Postal Service attract customers, generate revenue, and improve customer service.

    For instance, USPS Mobile could include more package services, or a way to determine how long the lines are at your local Post Office, so you can plan accordingly. And new apps could provide capabilities for scanning packages, paying postage at home, requesting money orders, accessing passport services, and more.

    The imperative of a mobile first strategy and the details about potential new USPS Mobile features and apps are explained in our paper, Mobile Opportunities: Smart Services for Connected Consumers.

    Meanwhile, we’d like to know: Do you use USPS Mobile? What additional or new postal features or apps would you like to have? 

  • on Aug 24th, 2015 in Delivery & Collection, Ideas Worth Exploring, Strategy & Public Policy | 1 comment

    It’s now the norm to see doorstep delivery of groceries, medication, dry cleaning, oversized patio furniture, and basically anything else you can think of. And we expect those deliveries on demand, sometimes even the same day we place the order.

    Technology has raised consumer expectations and, in turn, those expectations are spawning an avalanche of logistics-related bells and whistles. Sensors on packages can alert you – via text message or email – to tell you the package has arrived. You can ping the delivery company to say where you want the package delivered: your home, your office, or a pick-up location. Pretty soon, you might even be able to notify a retailer to put that package in the trunk of your car. Amazon is working with car companies to develop GPS-locatable cars with trunks that can handle parcel delivery and pick-up. 

    But all these sensors and devices talking to each other could mean more than just enhanced delivery. What if postal vehicles enabled with sensors could also read the local air quality? Or carriers equipped with scanners could provide services for citizens who have no one to check on them? Or delivery vehicles moving through neighborhoods could provide data to local governments useful for urban planning?

    Clearly, “neighborhood logistics” are more than just delivering mail and packages. 

    Just what else might neighborhood logistics encompass? We asked four postal experts to write guest blogs offering their thoughts and predictions on the future of neighborhood logistics: 

    Read what they had to say and let us know what you think, including what kind of delivery and logistical services you might want in your neighborhood. 

  • on Aug 24th, 2015 in Delivery & Collection, Ideas Worth Exploring, Strategy & Public Policy | 3 comments

    By Jody Berenblatt, senior advisor, GrayHair Advisors 

    We are living in the age of the “delivery revolution.” Businesses are positioning themselves to deliver goods where and when customers want them. Order nearly anything anywhere and the Postal Service can deliver the item in a reasonable timeframe at a reasonable price. In my Greenwich Village neighborhood, we are able to get anything promptly delivered, from the mundane to outrageous.  

    In the 1990s, we were amazed when our local McDonalds, which took orders by phone and delivered them to our door, would ask, “The usual Happy Meal and Big Mac?” McDonalds used a phone-driven database for customer preference and delivery information.           

    More than a dozen years later, how might the Postal Service -- in repositioning itself as an open information platform -- make information available to partners to nurture innovation and improve the customer delivery experience? Here’s one very simple example: A customer orders a pair of boots larger than her mailbox. What happens? For the Postal Service, costs escalate after a first delivery attempt fails. It’s also a hassle for the consumer who must make arrangements to obtain the parcel (whether that is a redelivery request or a retail pickup). 

    The Postal Service has operational files, such as the Delivery Point Verification (DPV) file that identifies address delivery types: It tells you if an address is a business or a residence and whether the mail will be delivered to a doorman, through a door slot, or to a curb-side mailbox.

    If this postal intelligence can be accessed to get the dimensions of the customer’s mail receptacle, then the sender could know beforehand if the boots would fit inside, and what options to explore if they don’t. Would they fit if they were in a polybag instead of a carton? If changing the packaging won’t work, could the shipper offer delivery to a convenient parcel locker or an alternate address such as the customer’s place of work?

    People are already sharing their delivery preferences with MyUSPS.com, such as directing the Postal Service to leave the package on the back porch, or with the neighbor, or ‘hold it at a Post Office for pick-up if they aren’t going to be home. 

    The information and technology needed to make this idea and others a reality are already in place. It’s just a matter of using them in new, creative ways.  

    Just what else might neighborhood logistics encompass? We asked three other postal experts to write guest blogs offering their thoughts and predictions on the future of neighborhood logistics: 

    Read what they had to say and let us know what you think, including what kind of delivery and logistical services you might want in your neighborhood. 

    Back to the "What’s in Store for Neighborhood Logistic Services?" blog.

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