We were reading the USPS strategic plan and found it interesting to a degree. Especially one point caught our interest.

  • Quote

LEVERAGE OUR STRENGTHS
We are a familiar and trusted presence in communities throughout the country.
Every day, millions of customers visit their local Post Office. We have the
largest distribution system in the country, backed by increasingly sophisticated data systems — including the nation’s physical address registry. We have an extensive and efficient last-mile delivery network. We have an enormous opportunity to build on the reach and capabilities of these assets to create profitable revenue growth………..
……..Make the Most of Carrier Services
The Postal Service is the only entity that makes “house calls” at every address, every day.

  • End Quote

That is certainly something USPS can capitalize upon, if willing to think outside the box. How so?

Let us take a look at the deregulated European postal market. Within the last years for example private postal services took away 10% of the mail volume from Deutsche Post. How could they do this? They all capitalized on existing logistic structures from local newspapers. They distribute the mail along with the newspapers and the newspaper carrier delivers mail along with newspapers.

USPS could also capitalize on their existing logistic structures. So why not deliver something non-mail related? One of USPS’s most expensive operations are rural delivery routes. We could envision that rural carriers may provide a service to remote locations by delivering medicines, foods, spare parts, etc. For example: Farmer John could call in an grocery order at the local city store. The order gets prepacked in (semi-standardized) coolers. Before going on route the USPS carrier picks up the coolers at the participating stores and delivers them for a nominal fee to the remotely located customers.

We estimate a revenue of $20+ could be generated per day and route. If we’d live in the middle of the sticks we might be willing to pay a few bucks for a grocery delivery which saves us a 40 mile round trip in our gas guzzling old pickup. A system like this could and should be set up and managed locally. The participating grocer needs to allow credit for the local customer. The orders need to be prepared at the grocery store the night before. And someone needs to be in the grocery store early in the morning, to allow the carrier to get to the coolers. Or in small communities, where trust still exists, the grocer might just hand the store key to the driver. On the other hand it is most likely that the rural carrier will still manually case the mail, so by the time they are ready to go on route the grocery store is open anyways.

We think this may be a viable example of how USPS can rake in additional revenue with minimal effort and expense. Plus USPS would also earn some environmental brownie points. Lengthy routes with few delivery points are prime candidates for such a service.

An interesting trend exists in Japan where online groceries, worth $15.6 billion, are sold

Now, don’t you dare stealing our idea and running with it, but give proper credit to Postal Sanity (SM) for thinking outside the box and inside the cooler.