Have you ever shopped on one of Alibaba’s websites?

The story goes that Alibaba founder Jack Ma chose his company’s name for two reasons: He wanted to be ahead of Amazon alphabetically and he wanted a global-sounding name. It didn’t hurt that some people also associated the word Alibaba with “hidden treasure” – recalling the most famous story from The Arabian Nights.

Alibaba is China’s giant ecommerce platform that is now taking on the globe. Its September 2014 initial public offering in the United States was the largest ever, and Ma has signaled his interest in expanding here.


The Road to a New Delivery Fleet

What should the postal vehicle of the future look like? The U.S. Postal Service recently put that question to its carriers and vehicle maintenance personnel and is currently reviewing the feedback. It’s an important question because the delivery fleet is aging and the Postal Service needs to quickly replace it. In fact, our recent audit on the topic found the current fleet can only meet delivery needs through fiscal year 2017 – and that assumes no unexpected decrease in vehicle inventory or increase in the number of motorized routes.


A Package of Opportunity

The Internet may have eaten into the U.S. Postal Service’s First-Class Mail volume and revenue, but digital devotion does bring good news, too. Package shipping is on the rise, due in large part to the ever-increasing popularity of online shopping. The Postal Service’s future could brighten considerably because of this expanding market, but is the Postal Service prepared to compete effectively in it?


Would you be willing to pay a nominal monthly fee for an individual parcel locker at your home?

When you think German ingenuity, perhaps high-end automobiles or precision cameras come to mind. Might be time to add individual residential parcel box lockers to the list.

Don’t laugh. Deutsche Post DHL plans to roll out individual locked parcel boxes to interested German households, and if successful pilot tests in two cities are any indication, the idea could prove to be a lucrative hit.


Making Every Mile Count . . . More

Earn more or spend less. Those are the two basic ways to achieve financial fitness, whether you’re talking about the household budget or a multi-billion-dollar corporate balance sheet.

And that’s what it comes down to for the U.S. Postal Service as it seeks to bring revenue in line with expenses (it lost $5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2013). So far, the Postal Service has been looking at cost cutting ideas like moving to 5-day mail delivery to changing employee benefits to consolidating networks.


Dim Weight, Bright Idea?

Dim weight. Sounds like something you might call your not-so-smart cousin. It’s actually a way to price parcels based primarily on how much space they take up during transport and delivery.

FedEx is the first major carrier to announce plans to charge prices based on the dimensional weight of all its ground shipments. Retailers and other shippers are bracing for a nasty hike in shipping costs come January 2015, when the FedEx changes take effect.


No More Day of Rest for Postal Package Delivery

This week the Postal Service announced plans to move into one of the few remaining frontiers of package delivery – Sundays.

Under a new negotiated service agreement approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, e-tailing giant Amazon.com will use the Postal Service’s Parcel Select service to ship everything from clothing to garden tools on Sundays. The program is running now in the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas, with a rollout planned in 2014 in Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix, to name a few.