Online sellers who rely on the USPS to get their orders into the hands of customers may be concerned about a new report from the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General over delivery delays. Yet at the same time, there are reports the Postal Service is focusing its efforts on Same Day delivery.
The Inspector General issued an alert to postal service management last week over what it called a substantial increase in delayed mail over the last several months.
While the weather was one contributing factor, it also cited Network and Operational Changes. “Significant changes to the Postal Service’s mail processing network took place over a short period of time. These included the service standard revisions, the mail processing consolidations, and the operational window expansion. While some of the operational impacts were anticipated, other impacts were not fully understood prior to these network changes.”
The report pointed out that the USPS had delayed implementation of Phase II consolidations, and it included comments from management. “Management did not state whether they agreed or disagreed with the findings, however management stated they had already taken significant steps to address the findings prior to the issuance of this alert.”
But despite concerns over consolidation and mail processing plant closures, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, “The U.S. Postal Service is ramping up same-day delivery of everything from bottled water to fresh fish as its new postmaster general tries to better compete with FedEx, UPS and even Amazon.com.”
Another area for concern for online sellers is tracking. In response to reports from sellers that the USPS tracking system appeared to be down, a USPS spokesperson told EcommerceBytes she had been advised there had been no issues with tracking last week.
UPDATE 8/19/15: The USPS responded to our article with the following statement:
The service standard change that occurred in January 2015, along with the processing window change, represent the greatest operational changes the Postal Service has ever implemented. Despite our best efforts to minimize the impacts of the changes, there were some insurmountable challenges that negatively affected service performance, especially when considering the impacts of severe winter weather conditions.
Beginning in January, the Postal Service immediately reacted to delayed conditions and has experience continued improvement. As a result of the actions we took to mitigate these issues, delayed mail volumes were reduced by 86 percent between January and June, and service performance improved substantially.
We remain totally committed to identifying and correcting errant processes in our operations as early as possible. Actions taken prior to this management alert to address delayed mail and stabilize service included development of educational materials for field management, deployment of teams to address deficiencies and ensure standardization, addition of network and surface transportation lanes and deferment of further consolidation activities to provide time to stabilize performance. We will continue to implement additional efficiencies, as needed, to maintain the service our customers expect.