As you all know by now, I’m a thinker. I get wrapped up in finding solutions to relatively complex problems. Not just technology, but business in general. The Post Office conundrum has been weighing on my mind for a few years now, but I never really thought about a solution… until tonight.
In the past few years, the USPS got one thing right (Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes), but a massive series of missteps have taken a once glorious institution to the brink of disaster. I pride myself on coming up with unconventional solutions for complex problems. Thus, my solution for the post office conundrum.
Why not turn the business model around and concentrate on what they do best? Large enterprises have built many a fortune on concentrating on their strengths. Take a look at Google. Their core business isn’t search; it’s advertising. Apple? Designing rock-solid hardware and patent trolling.
The USPS? Simply, they’re very good at delivering within a reasonable timeline. They have the infrastructure, why not just modify their business model as follows:
1. First Class Mail: Same Delivery Time-frame, but limited to Envelopes and Flats. Get rid of the concept of paying per piece, but a simple subscription model (Per Year, Per Quarter) with quantity limits imposed based on average postage usage. Subscriptions would be re-rated every quarter by address. People who buy “Per Piece” stamps pay 15% more.
2. Priority Mail: Flat Rate products, but introduce a Priority Mail option that is twice the price of what the First Class Postage would be. Expand the options for Flat-Rate Priority Mail to include larger boxes.
3. Media Mail: Get rid of it; transition customers to a new class of mail: Bulk Rate Priority Mail. Nobody buys books and CDs anymore.
4. Add Sunday Delivery Services: Charge $5.00 or more per piece. I know I would happily pay an extra $5.00 per piece for Sunday delivery. Fedex has Priority Overnight Saturday Delivery, USPS could offer Sunday Delivery. Why not add “Guaranteed Morning Delivery / Pickup before 10 AM” for another $5.00?
5. Add Money Transfer services at 1/2 the rates of Western Union and MoneyGram. They collect plenty of cash already. It would just make sense.
6. Give people the option to pay $20.00 per year to NOT receive unsolicited bulk mail (UBM). No more junk mail. There are plenty of people that would LOVE to pay for that.
7. Check Cashing Services: Again, this is a no-brainer for the USPS. They have everything they need to do Western Union type of Instant Cash transactions… Why not Check Cashing?
8. Offer reduced rates to communities (apartment complexes, HOAs, Housing Communities) the option to pick up their own / drop off their own mail direct to Post Office for a 5% credit / discount on all mail originating from any address within that community.
9. Parcel Post: Transition to a dead-heading (space available) model on Priority Mail or First Class Mail flights
10. Introduce “Vanity” Zip Codes for $1,000.00 per year. Companies and People would buy them up in a heartbeat!
11. Introduce personalized stamps (purchased in lots of $1,000.00″ increments at the New First Class Individual rate). I know I’d love to give my daughter a stamp with a pic of “us” on them 15 years from now.
12. Partner with Freight Forwarders to offer severely discounted container and export shipping rates.
13. Introduce an Eco-Friendly shipping option. Guaranteed to be shipped / delivered within the US using recycled containers and delivered by alternative energy fuel vehicles. Of course this would cost more, but then again, so does Organic Certified.
14. This goes back to financial services, but why not have prepaid credit cards @ the post office with custom “images” ala what Capital One is doing? Without the ridiculously high “Prepaid Card Fees” most issuers today are charging.
15. Expedited On-Site Passport Services days (2 per month) at every major post office. (Roving Trucks that make the rounds). They could charge an additional $50.00 per same-day issuance of a passport from the truck. For me, driving to Miami to get a new passport was unbearable.
16. Payment services for local utilities. (Cable, Electric, Gas, etc).
Regarding the Financial Services products: The USPS has a credit union. It wouldn’t be hard to set this up. Having a cash horde would also allow the USPS credit union to become a full-fledged lending institution (and commercial banking enterprise). God knows the Central Bank Corporation (yes, I call them exactly that.. A private institution that controls the flow of money) would buy in on this. How else can you get access to the money that is normally “shadow banked” today?
Again, it’s just a thought, but I’m pretty sure that are plenty of people out there that would buy these products in a heartbeat. I know I would. For me, it would be about taking the strengths and resources I have at my disposal and finding a way to leverage them in new ventures that are already proven. I’m all for supporting our government, but the only way to make this country stronger is to invest in the people (in this case, postal workers), not cut their hours and jobs.