|EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2992 - February 01, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065 4 of 5|
The U.S. Postal Service is planning to expand its gopost kiosk service for dropping off and picking up packages to New York City this week, Ecommerce Bytes has learned.
On Friday, the Postal Service intends to open a gopost kiosk outside the post office in Grand Central Station, in midtown Manhattan, and then over the weekend, another kiosk is scheduled to come into service outside the Manhattanville post office, located uptown on 125th St.
The new trials will mark the first expansion of the Postal Service's self-service gopost kiosks outside of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, where the service launched last year. At present, the Postal Service operates 13 gopost locations in the D.C. area.
Darleen Reid, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, confirmed the planned expansion, but said that the vice president in charge of the program was not immediately available for an interview.
Reid said that the Postal Service has been pleased with the early results of the gopost trial, and that most of the modifications to the kiosks have come on the back end.
"The machines are working very well and we have had several software improvements based upon user input. However, from a consumer perspective, they are minor," she said.
With gopost, the Postal Service is offering a self-service kiosk that works similarly to Amazon Lockers for receiving packages: Customers who prefer to receive a package at a secure location away from their home can opt to have their delivery shipped to the kiosk. Both services offer email and text alerts when a shipment has arrived.
But unlike Amazon's service, which cannot process returns, gopost kiosks can also serve as a drop-off point for outgoing packages, saving mailers the wait in line at the post office and offering after-hours service. Though some kiosks are located outside post office branches, the Postal Service is also installing the lockers at community hubs like shopping centers and malls.
In that sense, the gopost rollout continues the Postal Service's efforts to expand services beyond its retail locations as it looks to consolidate its infrastructure footprint under a broad-ranging cost-cutting plan. In rural areas, for instance, the Postal Service has been setting up so-called Village Post Offices to offer various postal products and services in hardware stores, convenience stores and other outside-owned community institutions.
With gopost, users sign up online, and are then issued a card and a pin number they can use to access the compartments at the kiosk.
For sellers, the gopost kiosks offer an around-the-clock drop-off point. To send a package, users log in at the kiosk screen with their card and pin number, similar to an ATM, scan their package and deposit it in an empty locker. They then receive an email confirmation, and can track the status of their packages just as if they had dropped them off at the post office.
Outside of regular shipping charges, there is no fee for the service.
About the author:
Kenneth Corbin is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He has written on politics, technology and other subjects for more than four years, most recently as the Washington correspondent for InternetNews.com, covering Congress, the White House, the FCC and other regulatory affairs. He can be found on LinkedIn here.
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