By Robert M. Campbell, Ph.D., president and vice-chancellor, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB Canada
When I became president of Mount Allison University, Canada’s top-ranked undergraduate university, I moved to a college town, which, like most Canadian towns, did not get home delivery from Canada Post. I had to adjust to the rhythm of mail runs to our Post Office.
I have, ironically, since enjoyed MORE home delivery than ever. Without access to urban retail outlets, we shop online incessantly. Postal and courier vehicles deliver parcels to our home as frequently (if not more so) than our previous postmen. These deliveries often arrive at my office, if convenient for the delivery drivers (who now know me). Delivery vehicles circle my neighborhood, much like children and pets back in the day.
This is fabulous – a density of service that has never been better, more personal or more convenient. I would pay for this! Indeed, I often do, depending on urgency or suppliers’ offers. But the fact is: I am happy to pay for high-quality convenience, service, and timeliness in my complicated life. And I am looking for more opportunities.
Reflecting on this unexpected development, I recall that before the great English postal reformer Rowland Hill introduced the penny post in the 1840s, delivery was paid by the recipient. Hill revolutionized delivery by reassigning the delivery charge to the sender. I am not suggesting that we turn back the clock to pre-Hill – but new technology and changing lifestyles offer an opportunity for a new delivery partnership model.
I envision a suite of customer delivery services, comprising physical products and customer services, offered at varying standards and prices (and incidence). This could include variety in destination (home, office, shop, station), in service (communication, physical items, security or personal contact, voting, surveys), price (sender, receiver, or shared), and speed (instant, regular, periodic).
For example, ours is an aging community. I envision a partnership between logistics services, hospitals/health services, and the elderly that address a range of issues from regularized prescription services and pickup/delivery of tests, to personal security/health checks and meal and food deliveries.
Technology offers the possibility of scaling up these “bespoke” services – neighborhood by neighborhood, service by service. Notwithstanding that we in Canada are seeing the end of “traditional” home mail delivery, we are on the cusp of an exciting and highly personalized, community-based delivery system that is more extensive, flexible, convenient, and effective than ever before.
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:
- The Delivery Revolution in Your Neighborhood by Jody Berenblatt, senior advisor, GrayHair Advisors
- Carriers as Conduits by Jim Holland, research director, National Association of Letter Carriers
- Rethinking Mailbox Access by Keith Kellison, senior vice president, UPS Global Public Affairs
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.