EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2522 - April 15, 2011     2 of 5

Half of Online Sellers Unfazed by USPS Move to 5-Day Delivery

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The majority of online sellers responding to a quick poll said the USPS move to a five-day delivery schedule would have either a positive impact or no impact at all. However, 39% said it would have a negative impact on their ecommerce business.

The AuctionBytes Facebook Quick Poll asked, "The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is trying to get Congressional approval to move to a five-day delivery schedule, eliminating Saturday delivery. What kind of impact would a 5-day delivery schedule have on your ecommerce business?" The results are as follows:

Positive Impact: 11%
Negative Impact: 39%
No impact: 50%

How Five-Day Delivery Works
According to the USPS website, with five-day delivery, there would no longer be delivery of mail to street addresses - residences or businesses - on Saturday. Post Offices would remain open on Saturdays and continue to provide normal customer services, including the sale of stamps and other postal products. Mail addressed to P.O. Boxes would continue to be available Saturday.

However, there would be no scheduled collection of mail from blue collection boxes or retail offices on Saturday, and mail accepted across a retail counter would be processed on Monday.

Some sellers looked at the issue from a shipping standpoint, others from a delivery standpoint. For example, some respondents said they didn't ship packages on Saturdays, or said they were pleased that they would not have to ship on Saturdays.

One respondent said, "I only ship Monday to Friday anyway, so no mail delivery on Saturday make no difference to me. Customers would understand that any change in delivery is due to the reduced service and not my fault. Anyone obtuse enough to blame me would have found fault with something else instead."

Some respondents said they didn't think 5-day delivery would harm the USPS since UPS and FedEx don't deliver on Saturdays: "I ship via UPS and Fed-Ex, which already do not deliver on Saturdays. Even for those who ship via the USPS, there would be not disadvantage to a 5 day delivery week, as all would be facing the same thing, and thus no one would have any advantage or disadvantage....all USPS shippers would be equally in the same boat...and those of us who use other carriers are already in that boat."

However, others pointed out that Saturday delivery gives the USPS an advantage: "It's the only real edge that the post office has against other carriers," said one. Another wrote, "Why don't they go in the other direction and ADD Sunday delivery. For goodness sakes, mail service in England used to be delivered twice daily. You had the morning post and the evening post. While we may not be able to have that, offering more service, not less, by adding Sunday delivery may be the ticket to more profitability for everyone."

Customer Expectations
From the delivery standpoint, some respondents expressed concern over how eliminating Saturday delivery would effect customer satisfaction and the resulting effect on sellers' feedback ratings, with a number of sellers specifically referencing eBay's DSR shipping-time criteria.

"My customers are home to accept parcels on Saturday. Fed Ex Home has Saturday delivery."

"Many rural customers receive packages at the po and Sat is only day many can go there. We have 5 star feedback on shipping time and this could cause that to change slightly."

"People will ding my stars. They're ruthless I tell you."

Speed of delivery was important to this respondent, who wrote, "People on ecommerce third-party sites don't have the same patience with shipping times as they seem to larger retailers. Lots of people pay on Fridays and our post office is only open until 11 am on Saturdays. We push to get orders into the PO on Saturday morning so that they begin their travels over the weekend and get to customers faster."

"One day is an eternity when it comes to online shopping," said one respondent, while another wrote, "So many people depend on Saturday delivery especially when they are buying gifts for holidays or special occasions."

But one respondent said, "Surely people can wait one extra day. It may help to keep down the cost of postage which may be hurting online sales."

One online seller was concerned about delivery confirmation. "Everything I ship requires signature on delivery - 5-day shipping would mean working individuals and couples not being available to take delivery, and no option for them to request Saturday delivery - when they are at home. Too many people refuse to visit the collections counter, and thus they'll stop buying."

Postage Rates
A few selers said they would prefer have one less day of shipping rather than have postage rates increase. "Good! It would save the USPS some money," wrote one.

However, another respondent said they would rather pay higher rates to avoid a slowdown in delivery. "We mail a lot of packages on Saturday with the expectation of Monday delivery. That would now be delayed to Wednesday. Customers expect rapid delivery with normal service. The Canadian system went to 5 days and mail to them now takes 10 -20 days for first class packages. We would rather pay higher rates than cut delivery times to 5 days."

"If it presents postage savings it would help the total cost."

"It will keep rates from going up which is very important. It would be a smooth transition with little impact on service."

"No other Federal Agency is open on Saturday, nor are any local or state agencies open. Simple fact, this is a great way to save money, so the government probably will not do it because it actually makes sense!! Step over a dollar to pick up a penny United States Government!!!!!!!!"

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About the author:

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

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