Postal Service Works to Stay in the Game

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Twice this month, postmaster general William J. Henderson has put forth his thoughts on e-commerce and how the U.S. Postal Service will fit into the new landscape; and, twice, he has mentioned his plans to create an Internet address for every physical address in the United States. Now there's something that should get marketers salivating.

"We would own the physical address and we would maintain it," Henderson told 8,000 mailers last week at the National Postal Forum in San Antonio. "All that information that you, our customers, have developed around a physical address could now migrate through the Internet."

Henderson elaborated on the speech he gave at the DMA's Government Affairs Conference in Washington earlier this month. Addresses would come from the postal service's Address Management directory. If a person didn't have a computer, the information could be printed out for delivery to the physical address. The system probably would use the .us domain. "There's going to be a need for a residential delivery system that's cost-effective, that's low price and that doesn't have a surcharge," he said. "It's a doable notion, and we're committed to doing that."

That seems to be the question from marketers: Can the postal service pull this off? If so, it would move e-commerce ahead considerably and keep the USPS in the game. The idea should appeal to anyone distributing mass e-mailings. Marketers could reach every household in the country at a fraction of a cent per e-mail, pricing spammers out of the game.

Henderson also gave his full support to the Postal Modernization Act of 1999, saying enough changes have been made since the bill was reintroduced in January. He expects H.R. 22 to move the mail industry into the 21st century and provide the postal service with competitive pricing and product freedoms. The last time it underwent any reform was nearly 30 years ago with the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. Let's just say it's time.

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