USPS Launches Priority Mail Web Site

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The U.S. Postal Service hopes to capture a bigger share of the Internet market with the debut last month of its new Priority Mail Service Web site.

An integrated campaign was also rolled out late last month to plug the site (, which enables Web merchants to register and order supplies and postage online, arrange pickups and use the agency's postal locator to find out where the nearest post office is for sending Priority Mail packages.

In addition, by implementing software available on the Web site, merchants can seamlessly integrate USPS' Priority Mail resources directly onto their Web sites. Resources include a track/confirm function, a rate calculator and a merchandise return function, which enables customers to download and print return labels directly from the merchant's Web site.

The USPS is touting the service as the most economic form of delivery within two to three days, a delivery time chosen by 30 percent of online shoppers. According to the USPS, Priority Mail provides two- to three-day service starting at $3.20, while competitive services are priced from $11.75 and up.

It is also trying to increase usage of Priority Mail, especially since Zona Research, Redwood City, CA, found that United Parcel Service, Atlanta, delivered 55 percent of Internet purchases during the 1998 holiday season -- the postal service delivered 32 percent.

"We didn't do much to get that business last year, so even without any encouragement a lot of Americans chose us as the shipper of choice," said John F. Kelly, USPS vice president of expedited/package service. "This year will be different ... we have much more to offer and every reason to believe that even more customers will discover our value, price, and certainty of delivery."

A national ad campaign, which consisted of broadcast, print and Internet advertising, was rolled out late last month. It was created for the USPS by Foote, Cone and Belding, New York. Two 15-second ads began running on national network television and cable television during prime time. An eight-week print campaign also began in eight business and trade publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Forbes, Business 2.0, Industry Standard and Red Herring. The USPS is also placing banner ads on similar, e-commerce-focused sites.

The "What's Your E-Priority?" tagline hopes to benefit from the double-digit success the "What's Your Priority?" tagline has brought to the agency.

The campaign has "brought us a long way in terms of helping people understand what the product is about," said Kim Parks, manager of marketing and strategy at expedited/package services. "What we want to do now is affiliate it with the other ways that it can help drive satisfaction if you are a seller."

A direct marketing campaign will begin later this fall, aimed at the small business market. Even though the USPS announced that Draft Worldwide, Chicago, would handle all direct marketing for the USPS, starting Oct. 1, FCB will take over the direct efforts. USPS spokesman Jerry McKiernan said, "this was planned a long time ago."

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