I drove past my local post office yesterday morning, one that is not closing, as far as I know, and noticed a FedEx drop box about ten feet from the main entrance door. It was clearly on USPS property. Or rather, on my property, and your property. I never noticed it before, in the way that many things that are a little out of place are invisible until you need them, or your brain has a spare moment and recognizes them. So as I ran my errands, I arranged to pass a couple of other post offices and found the same thing –FedEx drop boxes lined up next to the Express Mail box and regular USPS mailboxes.
This reminded me of our collective reactions at shows like Graph Expo as the major equipment providers, many with competing hardware or software or services offerings, began to populate each other’s booths as part of “solutions”. Often we did not know whose booth we were in. At the time, this blew our minds.
Of course, there are collaborations – or contracts – between the USPS and the private package delivery carriers already in place. The USPS Global Express Guaranteed service is the USPS’s “fastest international shipping service with transportation and delivery by FedEx Express”. And UPS Returns Flexible Access uses the USPS Parcel Return Service combined with UPS’s own delivery network.
These collaborations appear to leverage the strengths of each organization. The USPS, however, with its monopoly, (or responsibility), for First Class Mail and Standard Class Mail, is left with the less profitable deliveries of the carriers’ packages in out-of-the-way locales. FedEx and UPS are clearly dependent on the USPS for final delivery and pickups of packages in remote areas that are, of course, routes covered by the USPS.
The USPS must continue to focus on performance improvement in its core areas of responsibility – First Class and Standard Mail, but it’s time for the USPS to start thinking about “solutions”, and “collaborations” in the true sense of those words, to help promote its own sustainability instead of mere survival through cost-cutting.
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