The Heart, Soul And Guts Of The Postal Business

This article appeared in the PostCom Bulletin, published by the Association of Postal Commerce, on July 11. 2014. They graciously have allowed us to reprint it along with Ursa Major Associates, both of whom we at Eii thank for their work in supporting the Postal Industry. You can view the original article here



The following postal perspective is by Kent Smith, Research Director, Ursa Major Associates/PostalVision 2020. The views represented are that of the authors. Here appears it with permission.


Whatever else the Postal Service is, it is first and foremost a delivery channel. Its operations are built around materials handling, distribution and logistics. Within that framework, it has been very innovative and successful. With so much attention focused on governance – the business model, regulation and legislation – one of the operational wonders of the world is deteriorating for lack of resources even as new technologies are offering exciting new opportunities for postal operations.

Automation, Productivity and Service Performance. A generation ago, postal operations were largely manual and the workforce was heading towards a million. The Postal Service developed a very successful automation program and implemented strategies that steadily improved productivity, along with service performance and customer satisfaction. Postal prices in the U.S. are among the lowest in the developed world.

World-Class Innovation. The Postal Service is the world’s most efficient postal system, as measured by pieces per employee. This is despite the size of the network and the number of deliveries to relatively unpopulated areas. For a long time, the world has come here to investigate the most modern equipment and processes in mail handling, distribution and delivery. The Postal Service innovated in scanning technology and a number of other operating processes. Big, high-tech companies had large postal equipment and technology development programs. Even the vehicles – the celebrated “Long Life Vehicles” that made up the world’s largest delivery fleet – were marvels of the time. The Postal Service continues to operate one of the world’s largest alternative

fuel capable fleet. The Postal Service has been on the cutting edge of environmentally friendly operations. It has worked with its Strategic Supplier’s Council and with its Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee to develop new operating ideas and correct operating problems.

An Open Operating Platform. One of the unsung but most significant innovations has been the Postal Service’s Address Management Program, which created a simple coding system for labeling physical addresses and keeps the addresses current. The Postal Service made this available to all. This includes private sector firms who have created an array of products and services around postal data. It includes competitors who did not have to invest and manage proprietary address systems. It even includes a wide number of beneficial services not related at all to the delivery of mail.

The Postal Service has been the world leader in opening its operating system to mailers and their agents, the mail service providers. Through work sharing discounts and outsourcing a number of functions, the Postal Service has restrained the growth of costs.


If you are interested in more content like this, please visit the PostalVision2020 website.