By Jim Holland, research director, National Association of Letter Carriers
Six days a week, over 200,000 city delivery letter carriers fan out on routes across the country to deliver and pick up mail and packages for residences and businesses. Carriers now even deliver packages on Sundays and holidays. Increasingly, letter carriers do work beyond traditional postal services, helping to meet the growing needs of both shippers and recipients.
Letter carriers are a daily presence in communities across the country, which helps them become familiar with the needs of their communities. Letter carriers look out for people on their routes, providing assistance when they see emergencies or people in need. This connection between letter carriers and their communities could help pave the way for additional services, such as a more structured wellness-related assistance. The OIG recently hosted a panel on this subject, and some ideas included optional wellness checks, meal or grocery delivery, and delivery of medications. A more structured wellness program would provide a valuable service with very little disruption to the work of letter carriers.
Letter carriers deliver mail on the same routes nearly every day, making them uniquely capable of providing more services because of their familiarity with local needs. Their experience working in many types of neighborhoods could help shape the type of products or services that are provided on a local level. Perhaps a city neighborhood would value delivery of dry cleaning items, while a suburban neighborhood would value delivery of food. In addition, the postal network could be leveraged to help communities in need, for example after a natural disaster. Letter carriers could distribute items such as water, food, and medicine on any scale. In the future, letter carriers could even become involved in providing energy services to communities.
In terms of challenges, customizing many variations of local services might be complicated, but it is certainly worth looking into. Technology advancements may help make this possible. In addition, with the explosive growth in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, letter carriers have been very busy. Letter carriers continue to deliver billions of pieces of mail every month, along with an increasing number of packages. That said, we are always interested in exploring new areas where letter carriers could provide valuable new services. Neighborhood logistics is an area in which letter carriers are uniquely capable of serving.
- The Delivery Revolution in Your Neighborhood by Jody Berenblatt, senior advisor, GrayHair Advisors
- Worth the Price: High Quality, Convenience, and Timeliness by Robert M. Campbell, Ph.D., president and vice-chancellor, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB Canada
- 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.