United States Postal Service: Need for Reform Schooling
Extending Beyond Mail
Given the volume decline of more than 25 billion pieces of mail in 2009, there has been much speculation that the USPS needs to branch out into ancillary products and services to ensure its future as an ongoing concern. Corbett points to the addition of greeting cards at retail outlets. In fact, card sales have been robust enough to reduce the net loss of certain outlets that otherwise would suffer losses and see their status jeopardized.
Future ancillary offerings are not likely to fall far from the current USPS tree. Thus, it is doubtful Americans will ever see banking and insurance business—commonly transacted in foreign posts—ever coming to their neighborhood post offices. Corbett contends that it would be nearly impossible for the USPS to engage in such business given federal regulatory constraints.
"In the U.S., there's a fairly bright line drawn between the government and private business," he explains.
Corbett notes that while the USPS is considering all options that can augment the 235-year-old institution's bottom line, more focus is being placed on core offerings. Priority Mail is one such success story. With its change in pricing, backed by an aggressive advertising campaign, Priority Mail flat rate box revenue has had solid double-digit growth. Perhaps an improved overall marketing plan, and not an overhaul, might better serve the USPS going forward.
"If we're put on a level playing field with our competitors, like FedEx and UPS," he concludes, "with the same flexibility they enjoy and without the heavy burden of our employee retiree health benefit pre-funding, we could be as profitable, if not more so, than they are. It will take a multifaceted solution, and we're starting to see signs that it will happen." PI