There have been new shipping and marketing offers for small businesses being rolled out by the U.S. Postal Service. This is indeed being looked upon as a key growth segment that the money-losing organization is targeting as part of its long-term plan to return to profitability.
Paul Vogel, president, chief marketing and sales officer of the Postal Service at USPS headquarters on Tuesday, unveiled a redesigned version of the online shipping application Click-N-Ship and previewed a new version geared especially for small online sellers, as well as a new integrated marketing campaign that aims to kindle interest in targeted direct mail advertising among local brick-and-mortar businesses. The application now tallies more than 1 million users each month, accounting for 41 million shipping transactions each year.
Features and Enhancements by the Postal Service
The Postal Service expanded the package business with the launch of its flat-rate shipping offering in 2007, and has since been promoting the product line heavily with the multichannel "If it fits, it ships" ad campaign. Vogel also said that the flat-rate business was worth about $1 billion in 2008, and has since doubled. Many of the enhancements promoted are incremental upgrades, such as an increase in the capacity of the address book from 3,000 addresses to 5,000, a cart capacity that is doubling in size to now accommodate 20 labels, and an online refund period that has increased from 10 days to 30 days.
Other new features include the ability to save a label as a PDF and a redesigned shipping history with a default view of the preceding 30 days' worth of labels. More information about the revamped Click-N-Ship service is available here.
The New Shipping Tool to Boost USPS
The new online shipping tools come in response to the continued ascendance of online retail, a burgeoning market segment that figures to play a key role in the Postal Service's turnaround plans. The fascinating news about this is that the USPS has continued to add value to the shipping industry and continues to grow along with the ecommerce market.
Shipping has indeed been a rare bright spot on the Postal Service's balance sheet of late. The organization has been hammered by steep costs associated with its labor force and sustained declines in First-Class Mail, its most profitable product, as a result of both the economic downturn and the secular shift away from paper mail in favor of electronic communication.
Every Door Direct Mail
The Postal Service is also going after small brick-and-mortar businesses with the full launch of a new marketing campaign promoting the Every Door Direct Mail service as an advertising channel. With Every Door Direct Mail, businesses can use a Web-based tool to build a targeted mailing list of prospective customers in a specific area. The Postal Service quietly launched Every Door Direct Mail in April 2011, and generated $153 million through December without much in the way of marketing support.
Vogel said, “Most importantly, it's a gateway product. It brings small businesses to the mail. Every Door Direct Mail allows small business to target customers near their place of business with a free online mapping tool. There is no need for names, street addresses. They can just choose the market coverage by row, by neighborhood, by ZIP code, or even by city.”