From soup to stamps

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Robert Bernstock
Robert Bernstock

 The USPS' Bernstock on moving from the private sector to public sector


Q: What US Postal Service products and services are the most popular among mailers?

A: Web services are becoming better and more popular all the time. Between click and ship, carrier pickup and Priority Mail, we are seeing very, very strong growth. Also, more and more people are using the delivery confirma­tion service. We will keep investing in technology and striving to provide our customer with the services they want.

Q: What are some USPS services you feel may be underutilized?

A: The big one I think is underutilized is carrier pickup. I find that to be a marvelous benefit that we offer — and that it is not fully appreciated and understood. The flat rate box is another big one; you pay a certain fixed price to ship it whether it contains a feather or bricks. We ship the flat rate box for an agreed upon price, no matter what is in the box.

Q: After serving as a marketer in the private sector, what's changed about your views on mail since coming to the postal service?

A: The first thing that has changed my view is observing the sheer volume of mail we deliver — 200 billion pieces per year, which is a mind boggling number. Also, our service levels are incredibly high — 97%. We are moving towards 100%. We're just getting stronger and stronger all the time.

Q: What's something you wish you had known about the USPS when working in the private sector?

A: I did not know you could essentially go on the Web and get stamps delivered to your door. There is also such a wide range of stamps, and so many commemorative stamps. The range of products we license are terrific. Click and ship, the flat rate box, and carrier pickup are among the best kept secrets in the country.

Q: What is the role of the USPS in online shopping?

A: As e-commerce continues to become more significant, we want to maintain our share. In e-commerce, there's a need for delivery. Many retailers have offerings in all channels. We really see ourselves as partners with retailers. Our goal is to serve the needs of the cus­tomer no matter what channel they use.

Q: What is some advice that you could offer direct mailers, looking to work best with the USPS?

A: I would like to let them know about the benefits of using the mail — for example, how incredibly targeted it is, and how easy it is for marketers to get the right message to the right people. Unlike other mass media, you can personalize it. Also, it's tangible, you can hold it. Mail is also the most cost-effective of all media. Direct mail offers a powerful array of benefits and we want people to know that you can really build business with direct mail. We try to communicate with mailers to find out how we can make it easier for them to send mail.

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