• on May 9th, 2011 in Strategy & Public Policy | 1 comment
    Globalization is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, people sought better ways to correspond and trade over great distances. In recent times, a number of key forces emerged to fuel globalization. Perhaps most important, technological advancement like the internet, personal computers, mobile devices, and global positioning systems (GPS) energized globalization at an unprecedented pace by facilitating instant information transmission, regardless of distance, at a decreasing cost. The result was a dramatically changed business environment. Businesses and governments, capitalizing on new technologies to improve efficiency, trade, and financial performance, spurred international policy integration, operations standardization, and deregulation and privatization of many public monopolies like power companies. The postal services were no exception. The competitive pressures resulting from an increasingly interconnected marketplace such as the rise of integrators and electronic substitution created profound changes in the postal service ecosystem, which both threatened traditional mail segments and created new opportunities. As a result, the postal sector entered a new era that stimulated many foreign posts to adapt their business model to enter novel markets, diversify product offerings, and develop opportunities in non-traditional sectors to stem the posts’ declining mail businesses. Here are some options that foreign posts are already exploring:
  • E-commerce – Connect global shippers and consumers by extending customs clearance services to new products, offering international mailers access to domestic U.S. shipping, billing, or IP addresses for the easy purchase of U.S. goods, and creating competitively priced small parcels and packet products.
  • Border-free solutions – Provide global-direct retailers a cost-effective method to clear customs and remit duties, taxes, and shipping costs to the appropriate parties while providing an end consumer one total price. Consumers will flock to a provider that can deliver an affordable product with superior logistics, returns, payment, security and authentication services globally.
  • Logistics strategies and alliances beyond national borders – Collaborate with private carriers and other posts to provide the end-to-end service and comprehensive, world coverage that customers increasingly expect.
  • Foster exports-based prospects for Small to Medium Enterprises – Launch an integrated, multi-channel platform of e-commerce services and customized solutions that allow these companies to easily expand their export business online while reducing cross border costs and language barriers. Marginalized groups – Cater to the specific needs of citizens left behind by globalization by addressing underserved areas with a lack of infrastructure and technology necessary to connect to the global economy, provide cash card redemption, and distribute government services.
  • Bilateralism – Negotiate improvements to the Universal Postal Union rates posts pay to one another as well as enact direct entry and worksharing agreements to better meet customer needs and maintain profitability. Diplomacy can drive mutually beneficial outcomes even as globalization increases competition in liberalized home markets.
  • Global citizens – Develop a lean, one-stop integrated communication and transaction services including digital/physical address link, e-mailbox, digital concierge services, hybrid and reserve hybrid, digital currency and bill presentment. Ultimately, by reinventing itself as the comprehensive “communications platform,” the Postal Service can better serve an increasingly globalized American people.
  • Security concerns – Solve security and law enforcement challenges for consumers concerned with protecting sensitive information. Since an internationally accepted standard for user authentication and identity management does not currently exist, the Postal Service could leverage its trusted brand to develop a secure platform for sensitive messages and transactions.

  • Which option do you think for the most promising for the Postal Service to pursue? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on May 2nd, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 2 comments
    President Obama’s State of the Union address in January included the announcement of the National Wireless Initiative, which would expand wireless broadband coverage to 98 percent of the population within 5 years. With that large percentage of the population on the verge of being wired, could such a network be leveraged by the U.S. Postal Service to modernize its obligation to deliver mail to every household in America? The initiative provides financial incentives for private industry to expand wireless broadband infrastructure. The incentives are necessary because building a nationwide, interconnected communications network is cost prohibitive in some areas of the country. Once constructed, though, this network will be used by government agencies for a number of purposes including coordinating emergency response and communicating important information directly with citizens. The Postal Service must provide universal service to every address in the United States under the Universal Service Obligation (USO). The USO requires that Americans have ready access to postal products and services through postal carriers, collection boxes and post offices. It also requires the Postal Service to deliver the mail to every street address, six days a week. Perhaps the Postal Service could connect every physical address with a secure e-mail address. Other countries offer similar services, such as Finland’s NetPosti, which is a digital alternative to the physical mailbox. Every citizen gets an account and an e-mail address tied to his or her social security number. Postal customers could opt to use hybrid mail and have their letters and flats scanned and delivered to the customer’s secure postal e-mail box instead of to a physical mailbox. The Postal Service could also print and deliver the letters from a sender’s e-mail box to a recipient’s physical address if so desired by the sender. A number of private sector companies have made limited attempts at providing such a service in the United States, such as Zoombox, but none of them have the resources or infrastructure at the Postal Service’s disposal to offer reliable hybrid mail service to a national audience. Let us know what you think. Should the Postal Service explore the realities of implementing this service in the near future and use the internet to help meet its universal service obligation? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Apr 25th, 2011 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 5 comments
    While many posts, including the U.S. Postal Service, are downsizing due to shrinking domestic markets, China Post is aggressively expanding. By the end of 2015, the China Post Group plans to extend universal service to all villages, increase urban residential letterboxes, and add 300,000 jobs. This development presents an opportunity for the Postal Service to partner with China Post to expand the reach of both posts, as the demand for end-to-end solutions between the Chinese and U.S. markets grows. The major factors that fuel expansion and justify development are an increasing residential delivery network, major growth in small-to-medium enterprises (SME) and exports, and a developing direct marketing industry. The Chinese government also fosters China Post’s growth by permitting non-postal activities like banking and shielding some profitable segments of the express mail market from competition. Although industry players question the legality in an international context, China Posts’ Express Mail unit has the exclusive rights to a profitable product segment. Together these factors guarantee steady mail volume increases and help China Post secure a position in the burgeoning direct mail industry, e-commerce market, and other non-postal sectors. By tapping into its far-flung network of post offices to provide customers a wide range of services in one convenient location, new opportunities will emerge for China Post as well as the Postal Service. The Postal Service is taking action to capitalize on these opportunities. Last year, the Postal Service introduced a new, small-packet product targeting China’s small, lightweight exports, such as electronics and apparel. The Postal Service also signed a memorandum of understanding with China Post and eBay to provide an end-to-end, e-commerce solution. Earlier this year the Postal Service hosted a 20-member China Post delegation to discuss the direct mail industry. As the demand for postal products and services grows with China Post’s expansion, the Postal Service is uniquely positioned to establish a partnership that connects and fosters Chinese and U.S. markets. What other opportunities do you think the Postal Service should pursue with China Post? This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • Pages