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The Mayhem’s in the Mail

Posted on October 11, 2011 @ 7:11 PM in Uncategorized

As a Canadian, I’ve always had “postal envy” of our neighbours to the south.

I love their eloquent and legendary oath that neither rain, nor snow, etc. shall prevent the mail from being delivered. Even on Saturday!

Special rates and services like media mail. (Do you hear that, Canada Post? Library rates. What a concept!).

Fast, reliable delivery. Reasonable postage rates that stayed the same for years.

In the past, Canada Post strikes crippled our country. This summer, we had one. Hey! Did anyone notice? Because it barely registered a blip. We found other ways – email, IM, Skype, couriers, online banking and bill payments.

These alternatives are partly to blame for what has plunged the United States Postal Service into its current financial hot water. Perhaps “plunged” is the wrong word. It’s not as if this happened suddenly or no one could have seen it coming.

Something I only recently learned is that USPS is self-funded, receives no government monies and is obliged to contribute to pension plans for unionized employees it hasn’t even hired yet. And I was very surprised to find out the US government treats USPS as a slush fund to dip into when its deficit needs to look better.

Catalogue mailers in the U.S. are justifiably concerned for the future of their business if postal rates go up. Consumers don’t want Saturday delivery to be cut. USPS is looking at closing down post office branches and opening outlets in grocery stores and similar locations in order to keep afloat.

We Need to “Think Different”

The late Steve Jobs admonished us all to “Think Different”.

So what do you think of this?

Fred Smith started FedEx to compete with the United States Postal Service and fulfill a business need for dependable express delivery. Today’s online environment, social media, etc. have changed the way we do business.

Nowadays, it’s not about competition but collaboration.

What if Mr. Smith went to Washington and offered to purchase and/or manage the business side of USPS, leaving the Postal Service to handle consumer services and letter delivery?

The wired world must be hurting FedEx’s fortunes to some degree, too. It might be a win/win/win.

FedEx (or some other courier service, I’m just picking on FedEx because it’s the best known) has the infrastructure in place to deliver the ever-dwindling volumes of mail. And USPS sortation stations are running severely under capacity. Could the twain meet and leverage pooled resources?

Cataloguers wouldn’t need express overnight service – just reliable delivery at a cost comparable to what they’re currently paying USPS.

Or would fluctuating fuel prices make that impossible?

Maybe the direct mailers should be lobbying FedEx instead of Congress. Or maybe a concerned neighbour to the north shouldn’t worry quite as much about things she really knows nothing about.

What I do know is there’s always an answer to every problem.

We just have to be smart enough to find it.

And when it comes to ingenuity, nobody delivers daily like the Americans.

So what’s your solution?

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