The U.S. Postal Service’s foray into digital products is similar to the United States’ showing in international soccer tournaments. We start strong, but then fall behind the rest of the world powers.
From the 1980s to the early 2000s the Postal Service was an early innovator in pure digital services, from electronic payments to secure electronic delivery of documents. Today, the Postal Service’s offerings of pure digital services are limited. For the most part it has refocused its digital efforts on enhancing core products and services, as we report in our latest white paper, Riding the Waves of Postal Digital Innovation.
The paper examines how major global posts have navigated the waves of digital innovation and then compares the Postal Service to other operators. We found that when it comes to revenue-generating purely digital services, the Postal Service lags behind many of its peers like the Swiss, Danish, or French posts. It is hindered by a legal framework that doesn’t allow it to enter into new non-postal services and a strategic and cultural focus on the physical core business. However, the Postal Service is among the top posts in enhancing its core letter and parcel products with digital services.
Even within a constrained regulatory environment, the Postal Service still has room to advance a transformative digital strategy. The paper argues for a digital strategy around four building blocks:
- Leverage data to gain more real-time control over fleet and operations, and build a more customer-centric and information-rich value environment.
- Digitally enhance core products and services by, for example, developing a connected mailbox equipped with sensors that could allow for temperature-sensitive deliveries or monitor delivery and pickup times.
- Rejuvenate its portfolio of revenue-generating digital services, such as by modernizing legacy products like hybrid mail, the Electronic PostMark (EPM), or electronic money transfers. New uses for these products could also be explored.
- Accelerate digital transformation by adopting best practices to stimulate digital innovation from within or partnering with external innovators, as some foreign posts have done.
If it had no restrictions, which digital services should the Postal Service consider launching? What initiatives should the Postal Service take to promote innovation?