National Postal Forum 2018
Top Takeaways from National Postal Forum 2018
Last week ScanData sent team members to the National Postal Forum in San Antonio. It was a perfect opportunity to get to know our partners at the USPS, learn more about where USPS is headed, and of course network with shipper and carrier industry experts.
As with past conferences, we thought we would provide a brief summary of observations for those of you who were unable to attend:
USPS is committed to address customer expectation shifts in the industry and has chosen to be proactive in developing solutions to meet these expectations. Customer Experience is clearly engrained in all USPS employee minds: CX philosophies were backed in every USPS conversation and presentation we experienced. We are thrilled by this direction as this is a necessary approach to win in the age of the new consumer.
Informed Delivery® by USPS® was without a doubt a top topic at the event. Informed Delivery, in summary, allows the recipient to view a snapshot of their incoming mail each day. In virtually every time slot there was at least one topic centered around the offering. Given 10mm users have signed up and 30mm are expected by 2020, it is clear that all shippers should have a strategy to harness the current and future visibility provided by USPS.
Very soon, USPS will enhance Predictive Delivery powered by GPS and geo fencing that allows for the customer to have estimated delivery time ranges that tighten as the delivery gets closer to its destination point (the video demonstrating their control center in Oklahoma was impressive). The initial predicted delivery time range may be a full day initially and will tighten up to an hour or two toward the end of the delivery. This will improve first-time delivery rates to help carriers and shippers reduce final mile costs, theft, spoilage, and improve overall customer satisfaction. It is time to work on your strategy to integrate this data set for customer communications and delivery dashboards.
USPS understands that Returns processing is a critical driver of customer satisfaction. Customers may abandon a retailer forever with one single poorly-managed return, and shippers have significant cost exposure. USPS is aware that customer experience is key in this process, and is actively working on offerings like “return to store” that allow a retailer to automatically send a return to the store closest to the customer’s return origin zip. While you as a retailer may not actually want to process the return at your store, it may be a service worth considering especially if you have an under-capacity USPS trailer coming to your store for SFS deliveries, or a trailer with space available heading back to your DC/FC.
Cold-Chain packaging provided by the USPS is on the horizon; it was discussed quite a bit. We didn't see any samples, but expect a future visit by your USPS representative to present some. We heard this packaging can keep its contents chilled to 45 degrees for 3-4 days. Sounds expensive, but maybe not?
QR Codes are available or coming on almost everything USPS, including forms, returns, pick-up, and missed deliveries. Virtually every USPS form has been redesigned - or will be soon - with the customer experience in mind.
Informed Visibility enhancements are dramatic. Tracking codes, data, dashboards, and scorecards have improved significantly. Details down to specific facility ID/Machines that provide the scan data (thanks for accidental marketing for us, USPS), return codes, and returns tracking enhancements stood out. USPS has worked toward improving timeliness of data, transparency of their delivery timing, and quality performance.
Change is coming for USPS: The PRC 10-year review proposal received many unfavorable comments, the Board of Governors is currently unfilled and operating with a temporary emergency committee, Congress is openly exploring reform, and of course the famous Trump Tweets. No advice on this other than stay informed over the next year as one, or all of the above, will likely affect you in one way or another.
There was a clear call to get involved. There are many organizations like the Idealliance, MTAC, and AIM (Areas Inspiring Mail). PostalPro is a great place to start looking for ways you can get involved.
"Amazon Effect" buzzword usage barometer: LOW. We think they coached their speakers to not overuse the term to spread the fear, uncertainty, and/or doubt. Kuddos! Makes for more enjoyable sessions for those that don’t work at Amazon.
We realize this piece is very high-level, and if you’d like to drill down on any of our observations, please reach out to us with questions or comments. We also welcome opportunities to deliberate or dispute our insights and recommendations – no conversation is off limits. You are an expert and we'd love to speak with you.