• on Jul 14th, 2014 in Pricing & Rates | 7 comments

    No one can accuse the U.S. Postal Service of following the pack. It not only dismissed the strategy of pricing packages based on size as well as weight (referred to as dim weight pricing); it actually plans to lower prices for a good portion of its flagship Priority Mail products.

    Few were surprised when UPS recently followed rival FedEx’s lead and announced it would price parcels based primarily on how much space they take up during transport. The new pricing scheme is expected to generate significant revenue for the two integrators. Industry observers were curious to see if the Postal Service would jump on the dim weight bandwagon, or if the agency saw a better opportunity in trying to poach customers with its simpler pricing scheme. Few predicted the Postal Service would lower prices.

    Not all Priority Mail prices are going down, however. Retail prices on Priority Mail flat-rate boxes will in fact increase by 1.7 percent on average, if the Postal Regulatory Commission approves the Postal Service plan. For example, the small flat-rate box would increase 35 cents to $5.95 on September 7, if approved.

    Still, small mailers could save by printing their own labels either from the Postal Service’s Click-N-Ship online offering, or from PC Postage products, permit imprints, or digital mailing systems. Using an online option moves customers into Commercial Base pricing, where they will get lower prices, on average, under the Postal Service proposal. The biggest price cuts – about 2.3 percent on average – would come in Commercial Plus prices, which require a commitment of 50,000 pieces in a year.

    The Postal Service’s Priority Mail has seen solid growth over the past 3 years (25 percent in revenue). But postal officials have indicated they want to capture more business shippers and this price cut is one initiative meant to attract those commercial customers. Some observers think that, even without the proposed price break, the Postal Service would have won customers from UPS and FedEx once their prices increased. But others suggest the reduced rates might entice even more business customers to try the Postal Service.

    Should the Postal Service lower its Priority Mail prices, keep them the same, or raise them slightly given an expected migration from UPS and FedEx? 

  • on Mar 9th, 2009 in Products & Services | 16 comments
    The Office of Inspector General (OIG) independently audits the efficiency and effectiveness of Postal Service programs such as the online shipping solution Click-N-Ship®. However, OIG employees are also customers of the Postal Service, with their own experiences. Tara, a member of the OIG’s Communication team, tried Click-N-Ship® over the holidays and volunteered to write about her experience.
     
    I knew Click-N-Ship® existed through promotions and obviously being an employee of the USPS OIG. And even though I pride myself on being very tech-savvy, I was hesitant to use it. To me there was just something comforting about making the time consuming trip to the post office to pay a real person to take and ship my package. Then I thought to myself, “I shop online, why not give this a shot?” Now I am a raving fan.
     

    With a simple digital kitchen scale, my computer, and credit card, I shipped approximately 50 packages out during the holidays from the comfort of my own home. Most were letter-sized, so I first placed an online order for the free Priority Mail envelopes the Postal Service provides online. They were delivered to my door within a few days. It was fairly easy to set up the account, enter addresses, print the shipping labels, and complete transactions. For no additional charge, I scheduled a carrier pick-up and confirmed delivery of my packages online. In fact, the carrier even left a notification that he picked up my packages.

    The only problem I encountered was not being able to ship anything for a day or so during the Postal Service’s technical glitch in the system in mid-December. Though mildly inconvenient, it wasn’t that big of deal to wait until the next day when the system was fixed. So now whenever someone tells me they are going to the Post Office to ship something, I tell them to give Click-N-Ship® a try.

    Have you ever used Click-N-Ship® and what was your experience? Was your experience similar to Tara’s? If not, what happened? What ideas do you have for the Postal Service to promote or improve this service?