Change continues to be the mantra for the U.S. Postal Service as it works to develop a financially stable business model. Some of the most recent happenings in the postal world are highlighted below:
Mobile Barcode Promotion is Returning
The Postal Service announced it will conduct another mobile barcode promotion, similar to the one held last summer. Scheduled to run from July 1 to August 31, the promotion will offer a 2% discount on postage for First-Class or Standard Mail pieces with a qualifying barcode.
So what designates a qualifying barcode? Unlike last year’s promotion, the barcode will need to link to a mobile optimized web site that’s either:
- Relevant to the offer in the mailpiece and allows the recipient to purchase a product or service from their mobile device; or
- A personalized URL, which leads to a web page that’s unique to an individual recipient.
The mailpiece must also contain text near the barcode, guiding the recipient to scan it, as well as an Intelligent Mail barcode. (Both Basic and Full-Service IMb are eligible, but mailpieces with Postnet barcodes are not.)
Mailers wishing to participate in this promotion must register on the USPS Business Customer Gateway (BCG) and agree to participate in a survey about the promotion. For those not familiar with navigating the BCG, IWCO Direct will be able to register customers on their behalf. Registration opens May 1.
Postal Service Releases an Updated Business Plan
In mid-February the Postal Service released a revised restructuring plan created with the guidance of investment banking firm Evercore Partners Inc. The plan would allow the Postal Service to return to profitability within five years. Elements of the proposal include:
- Moving management of pension and health benefit programs in-house and dropping out of the federal government programs currently administering these services;
- Relieving the Postal Service of its obligation to prefund more than $5 billion a year in retiree health benefits;
- Moving from six-day to five-day per week delivery;
- Replacing more than 3,000 brick and mortar retail outlets with alternative forms of access;
- Closing about half of the plants in its 500-facility mail processing network;
- Reducing workforce complement largely by incenting early retirement among postal employees currently eligible for retirement (about half of career employees are retirement eligible);
- Negotiating with craft employees to gain greater flexibility in work hours and assignments to better align staffing with workloads.
Postal Processing Network Changes Are Coming
The Postal Service made an agreement with key Senators to postpone implementation of any facility closures until May 15, allowing Congress time to act on pending legislation that may affect the closure process. However, the Postal Service is continuing its facility studies and other preparations so they’ll be ready to begin the optimization process in mid-May.
The Postal Service began notifying unions in mid-February about possible job loss or relocation related to network optimization. This indicates that they’re preparing to begin consolidating facilities when the moratorium expires on May 15 (whether or not Congress acts or there is a PRC “advisory” opinion on the service standard changes that go along with network optimization).
Decisions on individual site studies were just announced last week. While we are still studying the list, there don’t appear to be any surprises. USPS operations officials have promised robust project plans for all facilities undergoing change. They’ve also stated that the process will be a “slow dim of the lights,” not an abrupt off switch. The Postal Service will not make major changes during the heavy mail season (September to December) but they will continue preparatory work during that period.
A recap of current Postal Service news, particularly its financial position and efforts to revise its business model, is available in Postal Issues Update.
Marketing Services Manager
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