International mail: French postal carriers make visit to U.S. Post Office

Manager Steven Records (l) introduces the French Postal Delegation (foreground) to the carriers of Las Vegas Garside Station, who gave a hearty “Viva La France” and welcoming applause.

Manager Steven Records (l) introduces the French Postal Delegation (foreground) to the carriers of Las Vegas Garside Station, who gave a hearty “Viva La France” and welcoming applause.

A delegation of letter carriers from the French Postal Service (La Poste) recently spent time with their U.S. counterparts to learn how the two services differ and what they share.

Six La Poste letter carriers visited Las Vegas Garside Station and swapped stories, techniques and commonalities. The French carriers were in town helping staff a booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. Before the show, they teamed up with Las Vegas Carriers on their respective routes.

Many postal carriers in France deliver on bicycles and have very few parcels to deliver. The total volume of mail delivered by U.S. carriers far surpasses the French system. However, French Post Offices offer banking and other services. Carriers also have scheduled welfare checks and other civic responsibilities.

“The visit was really great,” said USPS Letter Carrier Paul Cosio. “They were amazed at the volume, especially the parcel volume.”

“The carriers were very impressed with the way we deliver mail on the street,” said Consumer and Industry Contact Marilyn Wassell who helped organize the visit.

The visiting carriers were also treated by La Poste to visits to the Grand Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip. “But to many of the carriers, the trip to the U.S. Post Office was most impressive,” said Wassell.


Harvesting Global Opportunities

International package transparency

International posts are finding innovative ways to grow despite declining mail volume around the globe.Royal Mail’s European parcel business GLS has expanded its FlexDeliveryService to France and brought Saturday and evening deliveries to Berlin and Munich. FlexDeliveryService provides delivery notifications by email or text messages, and allows recipients to select preferred delivery times.Norway Post credits its cost-cutting efforts and restructuring for achieving revenue growth this year. As with other posts, the company has seen steep declines in letter mail and increased demand for parcel delivery and logistics.Singapore Post has said online shopping now accounts for as much as 27 percent of its revenue. The company has used its strategic location to reshape itself into an e-commerce shipping powerhouse for the Asia-Pacific region.E-commerce also helped sustain “strong” third quarter revenues for Belgium’s bpost, which saw domestic parcel volumes up more than 10 percent over last year.

Printing New Opportunities

The future of 3D printing
Recently, Royal Mail customers were given the opportunity to explore the world of 3D printing.

The U.K.-based postal service is partnering with 3D printing specialist iMakr to gauge customer interest in the technology. Royal Mail’s customers are among the first non-industrial customers to pilot 3D printing.Customers can purchase ready-to-print items online, or print their own solid, three-dimensional designs from a Royal Mail delivery office or iMakr store.The adoption of 3D printing technology is one of the fastest growing areas of technology. Shipment of the printers is expected to grow 95 percent between 2012 and 2017. The majority will be used by large industrial firms.“3D printing is an emerging technology that has many applications and offers an innovative way to create unique or personalized objects,” said Mike Newnham, chief customer officer at Royal Mail.“It can be prohibitively expensive for consumers or small businesses to invest in a 3D printer, so we’re launching a pilot to sit alongside Royal Mail’s e-commerce and delivery capability,” Newnham said.

Groceries Delivered

Groceries delivered

Global interest in the grocery delivery business is heating up. Many businesses, including Postal Services around the world, seek to provide the convenience time-starved customers crave by slowly adapting their infrastructure to provide this service. The expanded source of potential revenue has recently prompted a major postal provider to join the lineup of those vying for a piece of the market share pie.

Joining forced with Irma, a segment of the second oldest grocery chain in the world Coop Danmark group, Post Danmark is hoping to enjoy the lucrative fruits of delivering groceries to the Denmark community. Besides offering the postal organization an additional source of revenue, the new partnership allows Irma to expand its delivery coverage area to a larger part of Denmark beyond where the company was able to deliver on its own.

Delivery times for groceries range from 1 to 2 days at a cost of $8.80 to $10.59 depending on location. Grocery items packed in special containers are transferred from Irma’s distribution warehouse to Post Danmark’s distribution centers across the country. A carrier then delivers the container directly to a customer’s doorstep.

Demand for grocery delivery service has helps Irma realize an 80 percent increase in online sales this year alone. Its new partnership with Post Danmark will greatly enhance the grocery chain’s ability to delivery items to its customers without a large capital investment in infrastructure and delivery vehicles to satisfy customer needs.

Do you think demand for grocery delivery services in the United States could eventually translate into a significant source of revenue for the Postal Service?

Government Digital Adoption Accelerates Mail Volume Decline

Digital adoption

It’s no secret that digital forms of communication have reduced letter mail volumes at Post Offices across the world. Though some countries have experienced steeper declines than others, the future outlook of mail delivery is expected to remain in decline for the foreseeable future. A recent speech by a Postal Chief Executive Office outlines one of the more prominent catalysts for the acceleration of that decline.

In a recent speech by Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour, the sustainability of future mail service is called into question without substantial operational reforms.  He identifies the loss of 25 percent of mail volume between 2008 and 2012, but anticipates the acceleration of that decline as the Australian government shifts to communicating with the public through digital means.

Fahour states that only 38 percent of the community currently interacts with the government online. The current push within the country to drive 80 percent of all community communication with the government to a digital form could accelerate the current decline in letter volume from its current 4-5 percent per year to a staggering 8-11 percent. He also warns that this expected range of decline has the potential to be far worse than anticipated.

This “digital disruption” is something Fahour identifies as Australia Post’s largest challenge and that “it’s something that we will need to manage carefully over the coming decade, and beyond.”

To read Ahmed Fahour’s speech in its entirety, click here.

Do you think the accelerated decline of letter volume predicted in Australia could occur in the United States?

Shipping Services Now On Sale

Shipping services on sale

Through the 27th of this month, the United Kingdom’s Post Office is offering a summer sale incentive to customers using its Drop & Go service.

Customers can receive a discount of up to 50 percent when they choose to ship Medium Parcels via the Drop & Go service. The Small Parcel-equivalent pricing gives those wishing to try out the service the opportunity to do so with a healthy financial incentive.

Drop & Go is a service that allows higher volume customers to quickly drop off their mailing at the Post Office without waiting in line. To use the service, a customer signs up at a local office and pre-pays the new Drop & Go account. When the customer has a mailing to send, he or she heads to the fast track counter where the clerk performs a quick check of the item and ensures the customer’s account has enough funds to pay for it. After a few moments, the customer departs the office and the item is on its way.

Two forms of ID are required to sign up for the service and the application must be submitted in person.

Do you think USPS should offer a 50 percent off sale for its Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate shipping service to attract new business?

New Postcode System First of its Kind

New postcode system

Most Postal Services around the world employ a postcode system that assists in the accurate delivery of mail throughout their service areas. In a handful of countries, such a system doesn’t exist. Though they’ve made do with unique addressing systems, one of the remaining postcode-less countries will soon adopt an innovative system that’s a world’s first.

Ireland currently has an address system that uses the name of a city or town, street name, house number and/or name, and apartment number similar to other countries, but no accompanying postcode. Beginning in 2015, only a single, seven character alpha-numeric code will be needed to send mail to a specific destination. That’s when the Irish government expects Capita Ireland to introduce its new coding system.

In 2013, the Irish government selected Captia Ireland as its contractor of choice in establishing the new postcode system. A 10 year agreement, signed in January of this year, secured the coding and roll-out of the new system. The new code will provide every address in the country with a unique code, eliminating possible confusion and guesswork that might plague certain addresses in the current system.

The project is 9 years in the making and has been beset with delays and shifting priorities over the years. The new contract establishing the service arrangement gives the project momentum and helps relieve skepticism about its previously questionable future.

International Package Transparency

International package transparency

Recent growth in Internet-based shopping has shattered customer expectations regarding traditional product markets. Far beyond what catalogs and brick and mortar stores have typically offered in the past, e-tailers are giving customers across the world more choices in product availability than anyone thought possible just a few short years ago. While product availability is growing in leaps and bounds, some shipping companies have come across hiccups in the delivery process across international borders. That’s one of the major reasons why the E-Parcel Group (EPG) was created.

Established 18 years ago by nine postal organizations in northern Europe, EPG sought to improve service standards, customer response times, and visibility when handling packages across borders. The group has since expanded to include 32 countries in Europe and North America.

Managed by the International Post Corporation, EPG provides cross-border tracking of parcels, ongoing monitoring and reporting, a payment system based on performance, and an automated customer service system linking member post call centers.

EPG has helped ease difficulties typically encountered in working with international partners that use unique, and not necessarily compatible technology. Postal operators working with customers from a fellow EPG member country are able to guarantee delivery dates, improve customer response times, and collaborate more seamlessly with member posts. The collaboration has helped enhance both the e-tailer and consumer shipping experience, allowing for increased revenue through superior customer satisfaction.

Companies participating in the EPG program include:

·        An Post, IE ·        Malta Post, MT
·        bpost, BE ·        Norway Post, NO
·        Chronopost, FR ·        Österreichische Post, AT
·        ColiPoste, FR ·        P&T Luxembourg, LU
·        Correos, ES ·        Poczta Polska, PL
·        CTT Expresso, PT ·        Post Croatia, HR
·        Cyprus Post, CY ·        Post Danmark, DK
·        Czech Post, CZ ·        Poşta Română, RO
·        Deutsche Post, DE ·        Posta Slovenije, SI
·        Eesti Post, EE ·        Poste Italiane, IT
·        ELTA, GR ·        Posten Logistic, SE
·        Iceland Post, IS ·        Royal Mail, UK
·        Itella, FI ·        Slovak Post, SK
·        Latvia Post, LV ·        Swiss Post, CH
·        Lithuania Post, LT ·        TNT Post, NL
·        Magyar Posta, HU ·        USPS, US

Post Office Moving Into Mobile Networks

Post office moving into mobile networks

Increasing business services and enhancing value to customers are philosophies many Post Offices around the world are adopting. Whether it’s banking, insurance, or a wide variety of other services, each additional reason to visit a Post Office has the potential to increase revenue. To that end, one particular Post Office is establishing a partnership with another to offer mobile phone services to its customers.

Correios, Brazil’s Postal Service, has established a partnership with Poste Italiane, Italy’s Postal Service, to operate a mobile virtual network in Brazil. As a mobile virtual network operator in Italy, Poste Italiane will leverage that experience and combine it with Brazil’s postal network to cater to the cellular needs of customers in the country.

A mobile virtual network operator “rents” bulk access from a network provider at wholesale rates and sells them at a markup to its own customers. Though a network provider has not been identified by Correios and Poste Italiane, the partners hope to finalize a deal within the next month and sell cellular services at Post Offices across Brazil soon thereafter.

Do you think USPS should sell cellular services at its facilities in the United States?

Path to Sustainability

Path to sustainability

On January 26, First-Class stamp prices in the United States increased by 3 cents. The increase of 6.5 percent was designed to help USPS maintain an affordable delivery service for one flat rate across the entire country. With proposed changes to Canada Post’s pricing structure, residents of the neighbor to the north will soon see a much larger increase among other changes.

Beginning March 31, the Canada Post single stamp price will rise from 63 cents to $1.00, a 58 percent jump in cost. Customers choosing to purchase booklets or coils of stamps can reduce that price to 85 cents per stamp, a 34 percent increase above the current 63 cents per stamp.

The price increase is part of a 5-point plan designed to return Canada Post to financial sustainability by 2019. Other parts of the plan include:

–        Transitioning the remaining 1/3rd of the population that doesn’t receive mail through a community mailbox to a community mailbox within 5 years.

–        Installing more Canada Post outlets into non-affiliated stores across Canada.

–        Improving processing efficiencies.

–        Reduce its labor force through attrition.

Like other Post Offices in the world, Canada Post has realized a substantial shift in mail volume to digital alternatives. Letter volume for the organization dropped by 1 billion pieces from 2006 to 2012, with projected financial losses growing to $1 billion per year by 2020. Canada Post’s 5-point plan might not be well embraced by some customers, but it could be seen as the best alternative given a dire long-term financial outlook.

To read more about Canada Post’s 5-point plan, click here.

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

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