2012 Annual Report to Congress
& Comprehensive Statement

Retail Access

Our retail channel focuses on enhancing the customer experience and ensuring that the Postal Service remains a trusted American institution, while promoting our financial stability and cost efficiency.

The Postal network, consisting of a total of nearly 32,000 Postal-managed Post Offices, stations and branches, is the most extensive in the nation, with more locations than McDonald's and Starbucks combined. We also partner with retailers to provide another 70,000 locations for customers to access stamps and Postal services at times and locations convenient to them. Information is available online at usps.com and through applications on most mobile devices.

The Postal Service is working to preserve Post Offices in rural America by modifying window service hours to match local customer demand. The Post Plan, as this effort is called, adjusts weekday operating hours to between 2 and 6 hours a day for about 13,000 Post Offices. In addition, Village Post Offices are being established with local businesses in rural America to provide Postal services where customers shop. As of October 2012, 61 Village Post Offices were in operation with many more being established.

Digital Access

Our Mobile Applications have introduced capabilities for consumers and small businesses to order free shipping supplies, Request a Free Package Pickup, initiate a Hold Mail request and scan barcodes for tracking.

These additional functions, combined with the ability to find Postal locations and lookup ZIP Codes as well as prices continue to enhance the information available to customers at any time.

The Postal Service redesigned its Click-N-Ship application, creating more streamlined shipping experience that allows customers to ship online in four easy steps.

Additional enhancements include the Ship Again feature, an improved Shipping History and a very robust address book that can be used with other usps.com applications.

USPS also added PayPal as a payment method, while expanding the printing options after shippers pay for their labels — making the checkout activity much more efficient for our business and consumer shippers. Improved Military shipping is planned for this fall.

Premium Forwarding Service (PFS) was expanded to an online application through usps.com. PFS allows customers to temporarily forward their mail for up to one year. Customers can create an account, pay for services and modify requested services through an online application.

Alternate Access

Many customers prefer the convenience of alternate access choices that include self-service kiosks, online acess or mobile devices. We have improved the usps.com website and our mobile applications.

Consumers and small businesses can obtain information, and purchase postage online, by phone, mail or fax. They can order supplies and purchase philatelic items, arrange package pickups and print labels.

Customers also can use one of the 2,500 self-service kiosks located in Post Offices, many after the Post Office has closed. An additional 264 kiosks in high-traffic Post Offices will be in place by early 2013.

In Postal surveys 83.26 percent of residential customers and 83.17 percent of small/medium business customers, indicated that a "self-service mailing and shipping center is easy to use." Customer comments included requests for more kiosks and 24/7 access.

Retail Partnerships

In 2012, consumers continued to purchase stamps in retail partner locations through the Stamps to Go (StG) program. Stamp sales through the StG program grew by 6 percent, or 15 percent of all stamp sales.

Various marketing efforts were used to remind customers that U.S. Postage is available through more than 700 companies representing more than 70,000 locations. These efforts have been successful in growing sales and expanding our retail footprint.

The Contract Postal Unit and the Approved Shipper programs also continue to provide strong revenues and add new participants and outlets. This year, the Approved Shipper program had sales increased by 12.6 percent. The Stamps by Mail program offers customers stamps delivered through the U.S. Mail without delivery or handling charges. This program remains popular with the elderly and disabled.

Retail Services

Currently in pilot testing since February 2012, gopost is the Postal Service's new, convenient way to receive and ship packages. The gopost units are automated, secured, self-service parcel lockers that are placed in convenient locations, where customers can pick up or ship packages at their convenience 24/7 at most locations.

New PO Box services and features are currently available at all of the 6,800 competitive Post Offices:

  • Baker's Dozen is 13 months of service for a 12-month payment on a new PO Box.
  • No key deposit required for the first two keys to a new PO Box.
  • Signature on File service for receipt of Express Mail, Insured Mail over $200, Return Receipt (electronic) and Signature Confirmation.

Additional PO Box services and features are currently available at many of these 6,800 Post Offices:

  • Street Addressing service – mail is addressed to a customer using either the PO Box or at the street address of the Postal location, along with the PO Box number.
  • Real Mail Notification™ service – customers receive daily emails or text messages to inform them that they have mail in their PO Boxes.
  • Expanded lobby access.
  • Earlier times when mail will be available for pickup.

Retail Operations

Customer satisfaction with Postal retail service is high and continues to improve. Retail performance is measured by the Retail Customer Experience (RCE) program, as well as by surveys of residential, and small and medium business customers. These surveys are done nationally on an ongoing basis.

To provide additional insight into customer experiences at our retail outlets, the Postal Service, through the RCE program, hires private "mystery shoppers," who test customer experiences at approximately 8,400 of our larger retail outlets.

One key measure derived from mystery shops is a wait time in line score combined with a service standard of "Five Minutes or Less." The goal for FY 2012 for wait time in line (WTIL) was 88 percent of customers waiting five minutes or less.

Final results for FY 2012 produced a national wait time in line score of 88 percent, on target and an improvement over last year by 1.1 percent. The goal for FY 2013 for wait time in line is 91 percent of customers waiting five minutes or less.

The FY 2012 goal for the mystery shopper overall retail experience score was exceeded. The score also improved 2.1 points over FY 2011.


FY 2011 Actual

FY 2012 Goal

FY 2012 Actual

FY 2013 Goal

Overall Retail Experience*





Wait Time In Line (% waiting 5 minutes or less)





Source: Retail Datamart. Retail Customer Experience Program

* Overall Retail Experience Score is calculated from mystery shopper results: 40 percent (wait time in line score) + 15 percent (HAZMAT score) + 20 percent (image score) + 25 percent (promotion and merchandising score).

To improve the wait time in line customer experience in 2012, a quarterly newsletter, The WTIL Chronicle, is distributed to all Retail Managers and Sales and Service Associates. This newsletter contains tips on how to better manage wait times.

In addition, training is provided on how to use the sales and services retail diagnostic tool to help field offices identify and analyze WTIL failures and implement changes to reduce wait time.

Ratings from the Postal Service's national customer experience surveys also support Mystery Shopper trends. Ratings of Sales and Service Associates by residential and small/medium business customers as friendly and courteous, attentive to customer needs, efficient and knowledgeable improved in FY 2012 compared to FY 2011, as did scores for having enough lines open.