Deliver cheer

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A convenient, one-stop location for holiday shipping needs is now online.

Customers can visit http://delivercheer.com to order free boxes, buy stamps, schedule a pickup, and review shipping and mailing dates. The website is accessible 24/7, even when the weather outside is frightful.

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A Hearty Helping of Holiday Shipping and Stamps

Left: USPS Consumer Advocate John Budzynski. Right: Sycamore, OH, Postmaster Earl Musick poses with the Peanuts Gang (thanks to the USPS Augmented Reality App, available for Android and iPhones).

Left: USPS Consumer Advocate John Budzynski. Right: Sycamore, OH, Postmaster Earl Musick poses with the Peanuts Gang (thanks to the USPS Augmented Reality App, available for Android and iPhones).

The holidays are here, and so is another edition of Your Postal Podcast, filled with tips for
customers mailing gifts and greetings, along with special remembrances of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

Online now at YourPostalPodcast.com, you’ll hear from USPS Consumer Advocate John Budzynski on how the Postal Service is helping customers make shopping and shipping a whole lot easier this holiday season.

Next, you’ll meet the Postmaster of Sycamore, OH, who has a very personal connection with the new “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Forever Stamps.

Both the audio and transcript versions of this holiday edition, along with an archive of previous shows, are available at YourPostalPodcast.com.

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

2015 holiday PM medium box

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, send cards, letters and packages no later than the dates listed here.

Deadlines for holiday domestic mail delivery:

  • Dec. 15 Standard Post
  • Ground service for less than urgent deliveries and oversized packages.
  • Dec. 19 First-Class Mail
  • Service for standard-sized, single-piece envelopes and small packages weighing up to 13 ounces with delivery in 3 business days or less.
  • Dec. 21 Priority Mail
  • Domestic service in 1, 2, or 3 business days based on where your package starts and where it’s being sent – variety of Flat Rate options.
  • Dec. 23 Priority Mail Express
  • Fastest domestic service, guaranteed overnight scheduled delivery to most locations. Some restrictions and exceptions apply.

Employees Appreciate Author’s High Praise

Retail Associate Connie Evans, Rural Carrier Paige Roath, Postmaster Darlene Winterer, Retail Associate Lori Rees, Rural Carrier Blaine Fackrell.

Retail Associate Connie Evans, Rural Carrier Paige Roath, Postmaster Darlene Winterer, Retail Associate Lori Rees, and Rural Carrier Blaine Fackrell.

Web-based entrepreneurs often encounter many challenges when forming and growing a business. For one author in Coalville, UT, shipping products to customers has not been one of those challenges.

Author MJ Pangman recently sent a letter to Salt Lake City District Manager Jimmy Wolf expressing her heartfelt appreciation for the dedicated support received by the Coalville team.

“I am so grateful for the staff in Coalville – all of them!” said Pangman in her letter. “Everyone from my carrier to the ladies in the office are incredible!

“As an author, I started a little online business to support my book a couple of years ago. Darlene, in particular, has been so good to help me resolve those little shipping problems that inevitably come up and to answer my questions. My carrier has been equally good as I progressed from a pick-up once or twice a week to an every day pick up. They are all so good (friendly, professional, knowledgeable). (You) couldn’t have a better staff!”

“I’m confident the great employees in Coalville will continue to provide outstanding service to you and all their customers,” said Wolf. “Service is our ‘last name,’ but it really is our top priority at the United States Postal Service. Providing great service is so much easier with employees like those who serve you in Coalville, and made totally enjoyable and rewarding for all of us by customers like you!”

Expanding Service

The first CPU customer conducts a transaction.

The first CPU customer conducts a transaction.

Recently, USPS added a new resource for customers in Colorado Springs, CO, that expanded access to postal services. The grand opening of a Contract Postal Unit (CPU) inside a local ACE Hardware will help improve wait time in line, expand availability of popular postal products and services, and enhance overall customer experience.

Colorado Springs Postmaster Greg Penson and Customer Service Operations Manager Mel Henson were available during the grand opening to meet the public and show their support of growing revenue through alternate access. Customers also had the opportunity to drop their business cards into a container as an entry into a drawing for a stamp yearbook. Individuals who submitted an entry will also receive a call from USPS to see if they need additional information on shipping products or advertising assistance. The potential Business Connect leads could transform into a new source of revenue for the Postal Service.

In addition to the drawing, three local restaurants donated food to the event, delighting customers who stopped by the new unit. Customers also appreciated the chance to meet CPU employees and other members of the Colorado Springs staff.

Shipper Experiences Lower Earnings During 2014 Holiday Season

Shipper experiences lower earnings

Last week, UPS released a warning about its fourth quarter results that reduced adjusted earnings below expectations. The unexpectedly lower estimate shocked investors, sending the stock down nearly 10 percent in Friday’s trading session.

UPS attributed the cause for the decrease to higher than expected peak-season expenses as well as a West Coast port dispute. In 2013, the company experienced shipping difficulties during the holiday season and sought to avoid a similar situation in 2014 by spending approximately $500 million on network upgrades. While the upgrades allowed UPS customers to enjoy higher quality service, the expenditure adversely impacted operating costs. The company also experienced less than expected volume during most of the 2014 holiday season, though the increased network capacity did assist with handling the significant Cyber Monday and Dec. 22 spike in demand.

For the 2015 holiday season, Chief Executive Officer David Abney stated in a Jan. 23 release that the company “will reduce operating costs and implement new pricing strategies during peak season.”

Given this information, customers of the firm could potentially see a temporary price increase for peak delivery days during the holiday season in 2015 to avoid a repeat of 2014’s financial performance.

Logistics Revenue

Internal logistics

Entrepreneur success stories are welcome news to those who seek to take an idea and develop it into a profitable business. As a business transitions from the drawing board into a budding product line, how does it manage the storage and shipping of items when a home-based garage can no longer handle larger volumes? It might just be possible for a familiar shipping company to offer the perfect solution for this and other similar scenarios.

Besides its superior mailing services, the Postal Service stages and distributes mail, packages, and the equipment to move them throughout its many facilities nationwide. It has developed a powerful skillset to know exactly where each item of mail is located in a building, and it has a large number of knowledgeable people to deftly handle the processing and distribution of these items in a highly efficient way.

If the Postal Service were to adapt its staging and distribution expertise into a service for businesses looking to increase its capacity without the expense of going it alone, the opportunity could yield a potentially profitable new source of revenue. USPS could transform sections of buildings with capacities greater than it needs into storage centers for businesses. Whenever a customer of a small to mid-sized business places an order, the business can turn to USPS to ship the item from its storage center. The faster response time could even allow businesses to offer same-day shipping should the storage center be located near an end customer.

In a competitive business environment, the combination of delivery and storage center service could very well offer another stream of income to boost revenue at America’s original mail delivery service.

Do you think the Postal Service should look into the possibility of entering the warehouse business?

Metro Post

City Carrier Assistant Vaughn Strachan prepares his Metro Post deliveries.

City Carrier Assistant Vaughn Strachan prepares his Metro Post deliveries.

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, the Glendale Main Post Office in Arizona introduced a delivery service that lets customer receive items purchased online faster than ever.

Glendale joins with Scottsdale Hopi Station and Tempe Main to provide Metro Post service, a same day delivery option for customers who purchase items from participating e-commerce sites by 2 p.m.

The service is designed for customers who need more immediate access to items purchased online and provides them with a same day delivery option from e-commerce sites and their associated retailers that participate in the program.

Metro Post is currently available only within defined metropolitan areas for delivery on normal USPS delivery days.

Shipping Companies Could Refuse Packages This Holiday Season

Shipping companies could refuse packages

A slowly recovering economy and intense competition could prompt business to ramp up their sales promotions this holiday season. While this has the potential to increase spending by consumers tempted by irresistible deals, some might find that getting items delivered to their homes may have to wait until after the holiday rush.

FedEx and UPS both announced plans this year to work with major businesses to ensure a smooth, timely delivery flow. Last minute sales, however, could add unanticipated pressure to shipper delivery networks. This might have the potential to adversely impact operations and reduce delivery fluidity. If such a situation occurs, it could become necessary for the two shippers to increase the cost of their package services, and perhaps even prompt them to refuse the business if it threatens to overwhelm the network.

If their delivery networks suffer a repeat performance of last year’s delays, both shipping companies may find themselves with the tough decision of introducing higher shipping charges specifically for the holidays in 2015. This could cause online shoppers to abandon their shopping carts at checkout when faced with higher than expected shipping charges, and might even result in an unexpected revenue decline for businesses during their most profitable time of the year.

As the holiday season progresses, only time will tell if advanced preparation by UPS and FedEx is sufficient to handle actual volumes this year.

Packages on Demand

The Postal Service pioneered its own gopost parcel lockers beginning in 2012.

The Postal Service pioneered its own gopost parcel lockers beginning in 2012.

Recent advances in modern society have placed an increasing demand on an individual’s time. From social media, emails, and texting to individuals working multiple jobs and travelling greater distances to get to them, life in the digital age is not as packed with leisure time as might have been predicted decades ago. When time-sensitive activities seem to absorb more of an individual’s time with each passing year, making one’s self available for package delivery can be a challenge. That’s a particular problem a new company is looking to solve.

Swapbox is a new startup in San Francisco, CA, that offers parcel locker service inside monitored, indoor locations. To have a package delivered to a Swapbox, an individual uses the address of a Swapbox location as the destination address. When a package arrives, the recipient is sent a PIN code to unlock the unit. The company charges $1.99 to retrieve a parcel stored in one of its lockers, though there are flat rates available through its silver and gold plans for those who sign up for monthly service.

Individuals can also send items from a Swapbox locker – without packaging if they so choose. Basic shipping options for the service start at $1.99. This could be a tempting option for those who prefer to avoid packing an item.

Swapbox isn’t the only company venturing into the parcel locker service, however, and the field continues to widen as the popularity and availability of such service increases. If demand continues to strengthen over time, parcel lockers could yet prove to be as well-received and profitable as they are in many other countries around the world.

  • 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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