Thursday August 13, 2020 |Notes

USPS package service is vital to ecommerce

The USPS is in trouble. The service has become part of a political battle and is undergoing changes unlike any seen since the service was founded before the beginning of the country. Since writing about the mounting problems facing the USPS on this blog back in April, there have been numerous articles and news reports with further evidence of the dangers facing the United States Postal Service.

Recently, Web Smith wrote a great piece on saving the USPS in a memo at 2pm. He cites how vital the postal service was to Amazon in its infancy. Now, the loss of the postal service would inordinately hurt small businesses, while Amazon could replace with their own networks and discounted contract rates.

Cost inflation is the most concerning obstacle ahead for digitally native retailers. Without the treatment that the United States’ oldest civilian service afforded Amazon in its infancy, it will be more difficult to build more businesses of Amazon’s scale. The economics were difficult enough as is; these added costs will only add pressure to pass along costs to consumers, many of whom are facing down one of the most economically vulnerable periods since 2008.We should consider the postal service an investment into our present and future and a monument to our past. If our economy is to begin addressing the shortfalls caused by the overwhelming contraction in the traditional retail industry, it will need the support of the postal service. For eCommerce, their service is the industry’s last mile for thousands of direct-to-consumer small businesses. The postal service uniquely sits at the intersection of our physical roads and our digital infrastructure. There isn’t a direct substitute and we shouldn’t wait to find out the hard way.Save the USPS.

An pseudonymous mail carrier recently posted a number of tweets about his frustrations with the service as an employee, citing the changes that have come under Louis DeJoy:

See, up until just two months ago, every letter carrier, clerk, mail handler, truck driver, etc, worked under one pretty simple philosophy: every piece, every address, every day. Everyone in the chain of custody for mail made sure every piece got as far along in the system as it could, and if it made it to my hands, in my office, it was getting delivered. That’s how I’ve done it for my career, how the guys who have been doing it for forty years have always done it, and that’s literally how Ben Fucking Franklin’s guys did it.

While package volume is up, the USPS is decreasing hours and not hiring more staff. DeJoy's leadership should be more than questioned, as the Postmaster General has over $30 million invested in a private package carrier:

It also asks Whitcomb to review the finances of DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, the ambassador-nominee to Canada. The couple’s holdings include between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors or contractors, according to a financial disclosure Wos filed with the Office of Government Ethics when she was nominated for the ambassadorship. Postal Service mail processing contractor XPO Logistics — which acquired DeJoy’s company New Breed Logistics in 2014 — represents the vast majority of those holdings.

The Postal Service is not a business. It's a service that's vital to millions of small businesses. Losing this vital service would be greatly detrimental to the ecommerce industry, while giving large established players yet another advantage.

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