Friday, 30 August 2013

12:37 – It’s funny. Shippers used to have two primary complaints against the USPS. First, that they didn’t offer day-specific delivery for Priority Mail. USPS merely said that typical delivery times were one to three business days. The second complaint, probably more important to most shippers, was that USPS tracking was pathetic. You basically got two data points: when it left your local post office and when it arrived at the destination. Nothing in the middle.

As far as the first point, I’ve been keeping track informally of the last 500 packages we’ve shipped. All but one of them arrive on the estimated day and in many cases the day before. For example, when I ship a package to a major west coast city on Saturday, the estimate is always two business days. But about 90% of the time, the package actually arrives Monday. Oh, yeah. The one exception was a package a shipped to a remote village in Alaska. USPS estimated three business days, but it took four. I suspect UPS or FedEx wouldn’t even have accepted this package for delivery, because the delivery address was something like 400 miles from the nearest small town. I guarantee you that package went on a bush plane for delivery. So, the day-specific thing is pretty much a non-issue, and has been for years.

As far as the second point, USPS has been updating their technology. Delivery staff have carried scanners for quite a while, but until recently they operated in off-line batch mode. Now the delivery staff have a bluetooth/cell link between their scanners and the USPS servers. When our mailman picks up and scans a package, I can check a minute or two later and it’s already showing up as accepted. USPS deployed this nationwide in late July, and now they proudly boast that every package gets scanned up to 11 times. And that’s the truth. I can now follow a package every step of the way from my front door to the recipients’. The only bad thing about that is that I now get up to 11 separate e-mails for each package I ship. Some mornings I have three or four full screens of email from USPS.