E-commerce Packages Spared Saturday USPS Cuts13 Feb, 2013 By: Doug McPherson
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decision to end Saturday delivery in August doesn’t include shipments by online retailers.
The USPS is still working out which forms of mail, including letters and larger mail pieces, would be included in the termination of Saturday deliveries. Items that will get the ax on Saturdays include catalogs and DVD mailers.
The USPS reports that its mail volume has dropped steadily in recent years, declining 5 percent year over year to 159.9 billion pieces for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2012. Online package deliveries, meanwhile, increased 7.5 percent over the same period, the agency says, declining to break out numbers for those delivered pieces.
The Postal Service expects the change will save about $2 billion annually in operating expenses, helping it to slice into a budget shortfall that reached $15.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2012.
Dave Hodess, CEO of GameFly Inc., which ships computer game discs in first-class mail flats, says the loss of Saturday delivery “shouldn’t impact our business.”
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) says no Saturday deliveries would mostly affect merchants advertising a weekend sale through direct mail, requiring them to adjust marketing schedules. “The efficacy of the weekend sale advertisement received on Thursday and Friday rather than Friday and Saturday may change significantly,” says Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs.
Cerasale adds that the DMA is also concerned about uncertainty in the legality of the USPS plan to cut Saturday mail delivery, as raised by members of Congress. “That uncertainty will create confusion for mailers as they plan for post-Aug. 5 mailings,” he says.
The Postal Service contends that it is not bound by federal law to provide six-day mail delivery. “We believe we have authority under current law to make this change,” a spokeswoman says.
Meanwhile, to build on E-commerce deliveries, the Postal Service says it’s testing a service called “gopost” that lets consumers ship packages to USPS lockers in public places like transportation hubs and grocery stores that are open all day, every day.
The service, which charges standard shipping fees, is intended as an alternative to waiting at home for delivery or worrying about a delivered package left outside. Consumers register for an account at gopost.com, then receive an access card and personal identification number in the mail. After requesting delivery to a gopost location, the consumer receives a confirmation E-mail or text message when the package arrives.
The consumer then enters the access card and personal identification number into a computer screen at the chosen gopost locker location, which identifies the locker and automatically opens it.
The Postal Service is testing 13 gopost locations in the Washington area and two in New York.