Gabe Zichermann: Fixing a United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service is in trouble. Severe financial problems are appearing due to grant appropriation issues and constructional changes in a economy that pierce us divided from earthy mail. While I’d venerate to see a domestic change to a former, a latter seems inexorable. It’s not so most that we are relocating reduction things by a “mail” (though a decrease of initial category postage is well-documented), utterly a contrary: shipments of packages to people’s homes are during an all-time high. The genuine constructional problem during a USPS is that a margins on earthy products travel are in steep decline.

Consider this elementary example:

  • A 1 oz. First Class Letter from NYC to San Francisco costs0.44
  • A 5 lb. Fedex Ground Shipment costs12.47 (before discounts) — or0.15/oz. — with an tangible time commitment, including tracking.
  • A 5 lb. USPS Medium Priority Mail Box –10.50 and extras (but weight can go adult to 15 lbs easily) — from0.04/oz.

There are clearly many factors that go into a cost of shipping a package or a letter. But a final time a initial category minute was $.15/oz was in 1978 — and that $0.15 in 1978 indeed buys we scarcely $0.45 value of products today. In fact, it has never been cheaper to pierce products around a United States than it is currently — interjection to technology, creation and infrastructure grown in a open and private sectors.

So a USPS has always been means to remove a complicated reward for a “mail service” via a story of a organization, either by monopolistic or elementary demand-supply practices. Now, this remunerative channel (both initial category and bulk mail can be seen by a identical lens) is failing — squeezed during a tip by demonstrate smoothness and email and during a bottom by email and bearer services.

The USPS is — in other difference — a center marketplace company, perplexing to obstruct a money cows while poignant creation disrupts a landscape. But while we don’t routinely get sentimental about a use like a post office, we do consider there are still a far-reaching operation of enchanting things that a USPS can do to spin itself around. Here afterwards are a few elementary — nonetheless by no means extensive — ideas:

Go Digital, Make Money

If you’ve ever attempted to use a digital mail use like Earth Class Mail (whom we adore), or you’ve had a postal box, we know how tough a post bureau creates it to obstruct your mail to another plcae (think: notarized forms in duplicate, etc). Why not buy Earth Class Mail itself or launch a USPS-branded mail scanning and forwarding service? After all, if reduction tangible mail is eventually delivered, it saves on headcount costs in a middle term, helps a sourroundings and puts a classification into a “digital mail stream” of a future.

Raise a Price of Stamps to $1

Smaller countries like Norway, Israel, Japan and Denmark price domestic postage nearby $1 per letter, and even bad nations like Mexico assign some-more (in USD terms) to mail a minute than we do. Although it competence means some plaque startle and is expected to pull some extrinsic mail to a Internet, initial category mail pricing should simulate what it’s turn — mostly a oppulance or executive requirement rather than a required underline of daily life. If we start saying it as a discretionary use it is, we can start pricing it accordingly.

Let Everyone Print Postage Easily

Right now, copy your possess postage is convoluted, costly and cumbersome, requiring a subscription use (at or above $20/month base) and/or specialized equipment. Worse yet, a choice is to go into one of a nation’s shrinking post offices yourself, line adult and shop. But what if copy a stamp was as easy as shopping an app on iTunes? Why not let everybody setup an comment that generates a singular 2D barcode instead of requiring stamps? Record a series of scans done and check folks during a finish of a month. Heck, we can substantially even do it by iTunes itself, and countenance a mail by scanning any square as it passes by. Regardless — shortening a attrition to use stamps is certain to lift their utilization.

Make Mail Fun

While you’re during it, because not enhance people’s ability to make and use tradition stamps? The USPS could use throng games and gamification to inspire some-more consumer appearance in stamp and philately design/production, and presumably even use a techniques to revoke junk mail and peer-to-peer postal delivery. They have prolonged been innovators during a use of surveys to collect specific stamps, nonetheless there’s so most some-more intensity here.

On a opposite (but similar) tack: suppose earning standing or advantages for assisting to discharge a mail in your building or block, or by being a chairman who receives packages in your internal area for your neighbors. It sounds crazy, nonetheless monetizing new resources and enchanting communities with game-like mechanics works for startups like AirBnB, RelayRides and GetAround — and it can work for a post bureau too. In fact, this happens informally in many neighborhoods (including cave in Harlem) — and we consider that a gamified village covering could be unusually powerful.

In short, a USPS has extensive intensity to innovate itself out of a hole it’s in. Whether it’s regulating a UI/UX problems of a post bureau (both online and off), or enchanting communities and resetting pricing, there are innumerable options during their ordering today. Why manage a passing of postal smoothness when we can reinvent a classification for a future? That’s a doubt we consider USPS executives — and a 300 million and business they offer — should clearly be asking.



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