Should We Innovate The US Post Office?

Why would we want to do that?

The U.S. Post Office (USPS) lost $8.5 billion in 2010 and we, as taxpayers, are subsidizing this.

The majority of the red ink comes from pension plan obligations (roughly $7.9 billion).  The remaining loss comes from a 6 billion-piece decline to 170.6 billion pieces of mail (or roughly 5% loss).

So a lot of the losses have to do with labor rules and obligations, something that corporate giants like GM have faced in the near past.  It is mixed with lots of politics so that may be a bit harder to solve.

But for me, the USPS has become fairly irrelevant in my life (not that I am an ideal customer/target audience).  After all, how many of us go to the post office?  Other than having to mail a check here and there, birthday/special occasion cards to close friends/family and the occasional gift during the holidays, I really don’t use the post office services that much.

It’s even gotten to be a pejorative thing to mail something via “snail mail”!

In these days of cost cutting, budget deficit, and sustainability, more things are being done electronically. We get/pay our bills via online banking to save time and be environmentally friendly.  We purchase goods online, some of which are mailed via the post office, though many people are even choosing “pick up at store” options to save on shipping costs.

The U.S. Post Office has lost $8.5 billion last year and is considering to close offices, move into grocery stores/retailers and possibly stop delivering on Saturdays.

These are good cost-cutting moves that may reduce some of the financial losses (the pension obligations are an entirely different problem, though they could be offset with more profits), but will they make enough of a difference to make the USPS a destination for our needs?

With that kind of losses, shouldn’t the U.S. Post Office look at innovating its business model to make itself more relevant, more attractive by providing more value-add?  I am not talking about nickel-and-diming for every service necessarily, but more providing value that consumers would want to spend money with it.

With so many of us in the innovation field, how would you propose we innovate the Post Office?

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