Need to reschedule a package delivery that’s in route? Not a problem. Want your medication refill at your door just a few hours after renewing the prescription? Can do. Order a shirt online and get it that same day: Check.
Thanks to coordination and optimization technologies, these abilities are increasingly available to consumers. And more are on the horizon. Our newest white paper finds the U.S. Postal Service has an opportunity to expand its use of these technologies to enhance its offerings and satisfy the growing expectations of customers, especially around package delivery.
Coordination and optimization technologies are mathematical algorithms, data analytics, Internet of Things sensors, machine learning, and software platform technologies. In short, they are the information technology engine that powers many of the innovations we see in the logistics industry, such as same-day deliveries by independent drivers (think crowd-shipping) or retailers’ ship-from-store strategies in which a consumer places an order online and the retailer ships the good from the closest store.
Like most players, the Postal Service already employs cutting-edge coordination and optimization technologies. For example, it uses optimization software for Sunday parcel delivery known as its Dynamic Routing Tool. The software selects from millions of possible routes and determines how each carrier should drive that day’s route to speed up delivery time. The tool even provides turn-by-turn instructions.
In our paper, we discuss possible new postal applications of coordination and optimization technologies to expand the USPS’s delivery capabilities and improve products and services. Ideas include:
- Same-day pickup and delivery in rural and urban environments.
- Customized delivery time-windows — say, within an hour or two — for parcel delivery.
- Collaborative same-day urban deliveries that might combine postal carriers and on-demand delivery companies.
- Giving retailers and small delivery companies access to the Postal Service’s parcel lockers.
- Leasing underused parts of postal buildings to ecommerce merchants or other delivery companies for a fee.
What technologies do you think will most help the Postal Service remain competitive in last-mile delivery? Which of the applications above, or others, should the Postal Service consider testing first?