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Coming to a Postal Carrier Near You: New Scanners

The US Postal Service is trying to catch up to UPS and FedEx when it comes to providing customers with delivery status information – something that ecommerce sellers are finding increasingly important. The USPS renamed “Delivery Confirmation” to “Tracking” last year and made free package tracking more widely available.

But as recently noted on the EcommerceBytes Blog, the system is far from perfect. Apparently the USPS agrees.

The good news: the Postal Service is investing in scanning technology to improve package tracking.

The bad news: The USPS plans to deploy only 75,000 new devices during the initial phase, between August – December, 2014 – what sounds like a mere drop in the bucket.

The Postal Service has contracted with Honeywell to manufacture “next generation” hand-held electronic devices to be used by carriers and mail processing employees. The new device, known as the Mobile Delivery Device (MDD), will support current real-time scanning needs of postal products and services as well as future scanning requirements.

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The MDDs will be equipped to use multiple wireless networks for real-time tracking. It also can access local wired and wireless communications, consolidate transactional data and transmit collected data to applications requiring such information. The device will replace paired devices – the aging Intelligent Mail Device and a clamshell cell phone – currently used by letter carriers.

“Customers want to know where their package is, when it’s likely to arrive or when it arrived exactly,” Engineering VP Michael Amato said in a press statement on the USPS website. “This investment in technology will help to improve the Postal Service’s commitment to timely package delivery and reliable tracking information.”

With marketplaces such as eBay requiring accurate tracking in order to receive top rated status and discounts, better scanning can’t come too soon for online sellers.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.