The world is getting smaller, and not just because viruses and bacteria from foreign countries are showing up here. We can buy something made halfway around the world and have it on our doorstep in a few days. We can also instantaneously send across national boundaries not only information, but money as well.
Global e-commerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time in 2012 and they are expected to grow another 19 percent this year, according to data from research firm eMarketer.com. While North America leads the world in online sales, Asia is expected to take the mantle by the end of this year. China drives Asia’s growth and this year it should surpass Japan as the world’s second largest e-commerce behind the United States and its $385 billion in online sales.
The U.S. Postal Service is in the middle of a difficult transition to position itself as a 21st century communications provider. The Postal Service sees new opportunities, but its current cash shortage makes it difficult to invest in modernizing aging facilities and vehicles, or developing new products to serve changing communications and delivery needs. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are an increasingly popular way for governments to achieve policy goals and develop infrastructure, while shifting short-term financial burdens away from taxpayers and strained government coffers.
Starting in April, the private company TNT Post UK plans to test street delivery in the West End of London. Currently, TNT collects and sorts mail and then hands it over to Royal Mail, the traditional government-run postal provider in the United Kingdom, for final street delivery. Now, however, TNT Post UK wants to provide street delivery as well. TNT is seeking assistance from the UK government to provide a level playing field that will allow it to compete effectively with Royal Mail’s delivery service.
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.
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.
In developing countries, postal services are often critical to reaching a vast underprivileged populace. How do posts in these countries cope with the tension between their universal service obligation and financial viability? A look at today’s India Post offers some insights. First founded under British colonial rule 150 years ago, India Post connects India’s people through a network of more than 150,000 post offices. More than 80 percent of these post offices are in rural areas, where residents primarily depend on postal services to communicate with the outside world.