By Robert Cohen
In these challenging times, reducing the cost of delivery operations — one of the Postal Service’s largest expenses — could save millions. One option the Postal Service is considering is to discontinue Saturday city and rural delivery and collection services.
Providing mail delivery is central to the Postal Service’s mission. Delivery is the Postal Service’s largest operational function and accounted for approximately one-third of its nearly $78 billion in total expenses during 2008. Postal Service management is working hard to reduce delivery costs while continuing to deliver to 149 million addresses in the most efficient manner possible. Despite declining mail volumes, the Postal Service is challenged to provide cost efficient and effective service to a delivery network growing by more than 1 million addresses each year.
It’s 7:30 am and you’re a letter carrier . . . so take a moment and imagine the following as a typical workday. First, you walk into the office, clock in, and check in with the boss. Then, you load up the vehicle with the mail that is already prepared for your route. Finally, at 7:45 am, you jump into the vehicle, drive off and begin delivering the mail. At no point are you required to manually sort mail. Is that day far off in the future . . . or, is it just around the corner?
A recent presentation by Deutsche Post describes the German delivery and logistics company’s efforts to transform its retail network. One particularly interesting innovation is self-service Packstations. Like the U.S. Postal Service’s APCs (Automated Postal Centers), these kiosks allow customers to ship packages. However, Packstations also provide 24-hour access for parcel pickup. Customers can register to receive their packages at any packstation in the country. When the package arrives, the recipient receives an e-mail or text message.