The foundation of seamless acceptance is the PostalOne! system which continues to be upgraded with new features. In 2007 electronic capabilities for large-volume Periodicals mailers were enabled to bring on additional participants using electronic mailing information. Upgrades were also made to the electronic information sharing between PostalOne! and the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) systems that support a recurring appointment feature, enabling major publishers to automate their entry point notification for publications being dropped at specified facilities.
The Postage Statement Wizard, an Internet-based tool within PostalOne!, was deployed for small-volume mailers. The Wizard offers these customers a secure electronic alternative for processing and submitting postage statements to the business mail entry unit or local Post Office. Customers can submit electronic postage statements, as well as calculate postage, check balances and fees, view mailing reports, and mailing histories. Postage Statement Wizard had 3,201 customers enroll this year. They presented 105,605 electronic postage statements for 601 million mailpieces, with total revenue topping $168 million. There were 78 customer sites using electronic documentation and postage statements through Mail.dat and Web Services. There were more than 240,000 statements processed through this electronic feature — accounting for more than 13.4 billion mailpieces and $3.3 billion.
The Postal Service continued to encourage customers to use the PostalOne! system’s centralized payment capability. This year 2,251 Centralized Account Payment System (CAPS) accounts were added to this centralized payment feature, along with more than 14,000 permit accounts. A total of $21 billion in revenue was processed through payment features that allow customers to fund many business mailing accounts from a single payment process. This year also saw the implementation of a data exchange interface between the retail Point of Service (POS) financial transaction processing system and the PostalOne! system to streamline the recording of financial transactions for commercial mailings. This feature reduced the handling of hard copy and minimized redundant data entry.
The Facility Access and Shipment Tracking System
The Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) system provides customers with a means to schedule entry of destination rate Periodicals, Standard Mail, and Package Services. Customers and postal managers both benefit from the increased visibility. With the Postal Service’s complementary Mailer Rating program, customers who provide advance notification and arrive at the scheduled time with the amount of mail shown on their appointment will have improved access.
Each day over nine million people visit Post Offices to buy stamps, mail packages, or collect mail from Post Office boxes. About three-quarters of revenue transactions occur at Post Offices, with the balance taking place online, at self-service kiosks, or partner retail outlets. The Postal Service is committed to providing consistent, high-quality service at every point of access.
Post Office Services
Local Post Offices offer retail access to mailing and shipping services, and provide mail delivery to more than 20 million Post Office boxes. The principal users of Post Office retail services are low-volume business mailers and consumers. This year Post Offices produced $18.4 billion in retail revenue.
The Postal Service continued its Postal Team Makeover efforts to provide a more consistent retail experience from one Post Office to the next. Approximately 15,000 offices have completed this process, which establishes best practices for merchandising, product information, and customer communication. Teams consisting of one retail associate and one manager from each district have been trained to help other managers improve facility conditions, signage, and merchandise displays. A Retail Standardization Resource Guide/Toolkit guides offices through the process.
Other Retail Options
Revenues of $4.4 billion were produced by other postal retail channels (contract postal units, stamp vending, the Automated Postal Center kiosk, the usps.com Web site, and from postage stamps sold at supermarkets and other commercial outlets). Through a series of partner programs, customers can buy stamps, mail a letter, or ship a package from the convenience of home or local grocery store. By supplementing the Post Office network, these options expand the times and places that customers can obtain service.
The Stamps on Consignment program makes stamps available at postal prices through thousands of commercial venues, including many ATMs, supermarkets, drug stores, and convenience stores. Retailers benefit through additional customer traffic. This program exceeded $1 billion in revenue this year.
The Automated Postal Center (APC) is a self-service kiosk that gives quick, convenient access to the most common transactions. Most of the 2,500 APCs are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. APC revenue for 2007 was $483 million.
Contract postal units (CPUs) provide staffed counter services in supermarkets, card stores and other busy retail outlets. The units are staffed by the host retailer. Most feature evening, weekend, and holiday hours of operation. CPUs generated $688 million this year.
The Approved Shipper program also utilizes partner location and staffing. However, unlike CPUs, the host retailer is not under contract and receives no compensation. These retailers routinely accept letters and packages on behalf of customers and tender them to the local Post Office. The Approved Shipper Program gives them standard product signage and information, improves compliance with aviation security (package acceptance) procedures, and improves the consistency of information about postal services.
Stamps by Mail allows customers to order stamps, postal cards, and stamped envelopes and have them delivered by mail. Customers normally receive orders within two days. Stamps by Mail processed 4.6 million orders and generated approximately $186 million.