Customers urge Postal Service to go digital

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The US Postal Service needs to play in the digital world, major postal customers told the organization's executives August 11 at the USPS' Innovation Symposium.

Attendees recommended the USPS offer electronic services similar to those of Deutsche Post, which is building a trusted platform for businesses and consumers to conduct electronic business. Other customers suggested the USPS offer a PayPal-type service, building off its reputation as a trusted brand to offer secure online bill presentation and payments. Others said the USPS should create secure e-mail addresses linked to physical addresses, which would open the door to a host of hybrid mail services. 

“I heard some clear messages today. One is ‘don't be shy about getting into the digital world,'” John Potter, postmaster general, told the group after hearing input from breakout sessions. “Maybe we have been too cautious in this area, given what we think the law says. But you sent the message repeatedly today that we have to be part of the solution going forward.”

The USPS held the event in conjunction with the regular quarterly meeting of the postmaster general's Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC). Susan Plonkey, acting president of mailing and shipping services for the USPS, said the Postal Service came up with the idea for the symposium after Potter held a series of brainstorming sessions with CEOs of major companies.

Potter said he was pleased to hear that customers want the USPS to be aggressive in retail. Customers suggested the Postal Service provide other governmental services at retail outlets; create communications hubs at retail centers; or franchise out the front end of retail centers to allow other business to operate there.

“We may have fallen into the trap of thinking of them [retail centers] as a cost center, and we need to think about them as a revenue center,” he said. “So, we will attack that mind-set.”

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