When the topic of competition for the Postal Service comes up in casual conversation, the discussion usually involves FedEx or UPS. However, packages are a relatively small part of the Postal Service’s business. Certainly, these firms are direct competitors, but are there other competitors for Postal Service business? [poll id="51"] What alternatives compete with each of the various Postal products? What, if anything, can the Postal Service do to better compete in each product line?


Returning Purchases through the Postal Service

Merchandise Return Service and Parcel Return Service allow merchants to pay the shipping charges for their customers' returns. Merchandise Return Service is the end-to-end version, and Parcel Return Service provides workshare discounts for mailers willing to pick up the packages within the Postal Service's network. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General independently audits the efficiency and effectiveness of Postal Service programs such as Merchandise Return Service and Parcel Return Service.


24-Hour Parcel Service?

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.