|Sun Aug 18 2013 19:41:46|
Will USPS Future Plans for Priority Mail Result in Higher Rates?
By: Ina Steiner
Expect to see television ads promoting the USPS Priority Mail service beginning this week. I was privy to a conference call with journalists hosted by U.S. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Nagisa Manabe who were trying to spread the word to both consumers and small businesses about the attractions of using Priority Mail to ship packages.
The USPS recently rolled out changes to Priority Mail, including rebranded Express Mail to "Priority Mail Express."
The USPS also added an estimated delivery time designation on shipping labels and in the USPS Tracking information - clearly they believe eBay's philosophy in providing estimated delivery dates to customers - see Monday's Newsflash article for more information.
Donahoe and Manabe called Priority Mail's recent "brand refresh" a bright spot for the organization. As Kenneth Corbin noted in Newsflash recently, USPS shipping and package revenue spiked 8.8 percent for the most recent quarter, and Donahoe and Manabe said ecommerce was a major driver in that growth.
While there were no real surprises in the presentation, in a post-call followup, I did learn something extremely interesting. A spokesperson said future plans include moving to a guaranteed service for day-specific delivery.
Right now, only Priority Mail Express (the former Express Mail service) is guaranteed delivery - the other dates (1 Day, 2 Day and 3 Day), which the duo referred to as day-specific delivery, are estimates based on the package's departure and ship-to location - in other words, customers cannot request 1 Day, 2 Day or 3 Day Priority Mail.
The USPS has flexibility to make changes to services and rates to what are called "competitive" offerings, under which Priority Mail falls. Eyeing carriers such as UPS and FedEx, apparently the USPS believes it can further improve Priority Mail (and improve its bottom line) by guaranteeing delivery dates. But would a hypothetical increase in package volume as a result of such a change be enough to satisfy the desire to boost postal revenue?
I'm curious about how online sellers who rely on Priority Mail feel about such a change. I would think if the USPS could meet those delivery times, guaranteed delivery would be a plus - but would it come with a rate increase? Let us know what you think!