Monday, November 17, 2008

Should the USPS Change its Delivery Schedule?

I thoroughly enjoyed this article from DM News. It’s all about cost savings ideas for the US Postal Service, with the ultimate goal of keeping postage steady for direct marketers. The article cites two postal mail industry experts who have provided their comments on cost savings efforts.
Specifically, each expert discusses ramifications of the USPS cutting a day of mail service—cutting delivery from 6 times each week, to only 5.

Expert 1: C. Hamilton Davison, Executive director, American Cataloger Mailers' Association

Primary point
: Thinks that other options should be considered first—prior to cutting a day of mail delivery. For example, he suggests that the USPS look at closing some branches. He provides an interesting comparison of USPS facilities to McDonalds.

“Do you think McDonald's is everywhere? Well, McDonald's has 21,000 restaurants
worldwide; the USPS has 37,000 retail locations in the US alone. Isn't it
possible that we have too many post offices?”
Bottom Line: Mr. Davison recommends exploring any and all cost savings options if it means keeping the USPS competitive.

Expert 2: William Burrus, President, American Postal Workers Union

Primary point
: Mr. Burrus is adamantly opposed to a reduction of mail delivery days.
“If such a reduction leads to an increase in Priority, Registered, Certified,
FedEx, or UPS deliveries, customer costs would increase, and productivity
would decline.”
Bottom Line: He suggests that this change is too radical because it would delay mail significantly, especially in holiday schedules.
“This change would begin the process of dismantling the United States Postal
Service, which is the primary objective of those who advance this terrible

My take: I believe that the USPS needs to explore any cost-saving idea it can come up with. In this economy, every single business is exploring ways to save. The USPS shouldn’t be any different.

And, the solution clearly isn’t significant postage increases. I hate to see the direct marketing industry (which is a huge cash cow for the USPS) continually hit by rate increases that seem overwhelming and unfair. Further, taking away a day of mail delivery would not be the end of the world to most consumers who no longer rely on postal mail to receive important personal and business communication.

So, if a day must be cut to keep postal mail flowing, so be it.


Anonymous said...

"So, if a day must be cut to keep postal mail flowing, so be it."

I have thought this for several years -- especially for my home mail.

Ted Grigg said...

With each postal rate increase, the use of direct mail as a core medium for companies diminishes.

That is sad, because other options such as email as a customer acquisition tool do not have the penetration power of targeted direct mail.

And online marketing, though very efficient, still does not pull sufficient volume to replace direct mail for many companies.

So the USPS should take advantage of this time to become a more efficient business operation. And dropping a day from the delivery schedule helps only over the short term.

The USPS must solve its labor problem above all other issues it faces. The USPS leaders face an even greater labor problem than the auto companies that are saddled with antiquated labor rules.

Until the labor problem is resolved, there is no solution to the increasing cost spiral that plagues the likes of GM and the USPS.

Cynthia Maniglia said...

Well, at least they're not (currently) in the same situation as DHL.

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