Thursday, July 03, 2008

USPS Forms New Shipping Division

The US Postal Service (USPS) has announced a major realignment that creates two new strategic focuses, the first grouping all major shipping and mailing products in one division, and the other (representing the voice of the customer) giving priority to the interests of business and individual mailers.

The realignment also consolidates all Intelligent Mail Barcode activities under the chief operating officer to focus on execution in the year ahead.

"Today's decisions may be viewed as a sea change for some," said Postmaster General John E. Potter. "But these are challenging times and it's critical that we take advantage of recent changes in federal law which give us the tools to move into the competitive environment. We are now positioned to do that."

A law enacted in the closing days of 2006 (the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006) streamlined the way the Postal Service sets prices and added certain flexibilities in the pricing of its shipping (package) services enabling it to become more competitive with private shipping companies like UPS and FedEx. The first initiative under the Act was to implement a new rate structure based on both weight and shape (as opposed to just weight), which went into effect in May 2007.

Robert F. Bernstock, a corporate leader with more than 30 years of private sector experience, has been brought on to be president of the newly created Shipping and Mailing Services Division. Most recently he was chairman and chief executive officer at Securesheet Technologies. Bernstock also serves as a director on a number of public company boards, including Nutrisystem, the Pantry, and KBL Acquisition Corp.

Intelligent Barcode System
The reorganization is partly to prepare for the May 2009 rollout of the new USPS Intelligent Mail Barcode system, which will improve operations and enable customers to track letters and parcels as they move through the mail stream.

The 65-bar code will be required starting in May 2009 for companies looking to earn the maximum USPS automation discounts. It replaces the POSTNET and PLANET barcode systems which are already in place and promises to raise the level of service the USPS provides to its customers.

The new system was originally due to be rolled out in January but the USPS postponed implementation due to a lack of public awareness.

In an interview with Multichannel Merchant magazine, Potter noted that he expects the USPS to develop “a more effective game plan on how to reach out to the mid-market -- because while we do an effective job with very large customers, and we’re as good as any in dealing with consumers, it’s that mid- and small-sized business market that is a real opportunity."

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