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EVP, Marketing at Specialty Print Communications

Against the Grain

By Dustin LeFebvre

About Dustin

A third-generation printer, Dustin LeFebvre delivers his vision for Specialty Print Communications as EVP, Marketing through strategy, planning and new product development. With a rich background ranging from sales and marketing to operations, quality control and procurement, Dustin takes a wide-angle approach to SPC

 

Good Grief USPS!

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The USPS is rolling out Sunday package delivery in Los Angeles and New York this fall, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Good grief!

It’s a real Charlie Brown story, the USPS. Wikipedia describes Charlie Brown as: “A lovable loser possessed with endless determination and hope, but who usually is dominated by his insecurities.”

And here we are again with a little hope. The package business is growing at double digits, retailers are competing on service, and the USPS wants to grab a share of the game. Go get ‘em, Chuck! Or so the story goes.

It could even be the right business decision to make, but I’m tasked with offering the perspective of the printer, and here it is.

Amazon is a $162 billion company that doesn’t make any money. Back in 2000, it was a $30 billion company that didn’t make money. And along the way, it didn’t make money.

Amazon has been able to fund its growth without profitability by making ongoing "somewhere in the distance, after we have the infrastructure in place, I’ll see you around the corner profit projections. Almost 20 years on, it’s an anaconda, tightening its grip on brick and mortar prey, year after year after year.

And Chuck, you’re feeding the beast. A beast that is slowly constricting all the retailers who invested in actual stores (and made actual money) all those years, using your letter services to send direct mail to consumers to drive traffic into those stores. You’re subsidizing the destruction of your decades old customers by aiding the company that's attacking them.

And after years of threatening to curb Saturday delivery for all those longstanding letter customers, you’re offering SUNDAY delivery to Amazon. Now, 10 million Amazon Prime members will be able to order on Friday and receive their items on Sunday.

Who needs brick and mortar stores anyway?

After making the announcement, did you receive any phone calls from Best Buy? How about Target, Walmart, or Home Depot? I bet they weren’t too happy at your newfound special little deal with the company coming for their collective throats.

Does the USPS miss the irony in all of this? This is kind of like trusting Lucy to hold the ball for a field goal attempt.

And we printers? Lots of us find it hard to avoid the self-pity. Our customers are under threat and the USPS is aiding their assailant while leaving our distribution method at risk because of their inability to respond to long-term structural changes in their business. And when they do respond, their response is to further damage many of their long-term mail customers in favor of e-commerce.

My message to the USPS is simple: You’ve been dumb before, but this time you’ve really done it!

Good grief, indeed!

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