Retail Access

The Postal Service Web site received 426 million visits, a 1.4 percent decrease in visits compared with last year in part because of economic conditions. The Brookings Institution again ranked the site fourth among 61 government agency Web sites and called one of the top federal e-government performers.

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The Postal Service's Web site is easier to use than ever. Customers can print labels, buy postage, order supplies, and request a package pickup online.

The Click-N-Ship online shipping solution grew in the number of users and revenue. International mailing was made easier for customers by combining all international products into the Click-N-Ship application. Other significant Click-N-Ship enhancements included an additional payment option (Bill Me Later) and a new Small Priority Mail Flat Rate box service. The Online Fraud Detection Application process was decoupled from the Click-N-Ship application to ensure better fraud protection. Another major Click-N-Ship project launch was Proof of Filing Citation (PFC) and Exemption Exclusion Legend (EEL). Both were initiated to meet the Census Bureau mandate that all international packages bear either a PFC or an EEL. Click-N-Ship collects and passes this data to the Census Bureau.

The Postal Store is the primary destination for customers to purchase stamps, philatelic and retail products, as well as order free shipping supplies. Revenue from the Postal Store decreased 4 percent because of the overall downturn in the economy. The site handles almost 70 percent of shipments from the Stamp Fulfillment Services Center in Kansas City, and over 80 percent of expedited shipping supplies fulfillment.

The PO Boxes Online solution allows customers to locate and pay for PO Boxes via New customers can search for an available PO Box near their home or business, and pay online with a credit card (customers are still required to go to the Post Office to pick up the box keys). Existing PO Box customers can manage their PO Box online: check status, receive email reminders of payments due, make a one-time renewal payment, or set up automatic payments. These options improve customer service and help reduce late payments and unintended box closures.

Project Phoenix, an integrated multi-channel effort is aimed at individual and small business customers. Project Phoenix continued with the development of plans and strategies for improving customer access on, the contact centers, and a new mobile channel. The project will be implemented in multiple phases over two years, and will include major upgrades to and the supporting information technology. The first phase, completed in late September, added online service accessible via mobile (ZIP Codes, Post Office locations, addresses and telephone numbers, and Track and Confirm), a new limited online chat feature allows customers to communicate with contact center agents, as well as a new small business program with a dedicated team of agents at contact centers to guide customers on mailing processes. Phase 1.2, scheduled for a May 2010 launch, includes major enhancements focusing on e-commerce products such as the Postal Store and Click-N Ship. These enhancements will improve the customer experience and ease of use, as well as provide key back-end system efficiencies.

Post Offices

Local Post Offices offer convenient retail access to mailing and shipping services and provide PO Box services. The principal users of retail services are small businesses and consumers. This year Post Offices and other retail options generated $17.8 billion, 26 percent of total Postal Service revenue. Over $5 billion of this total was generated through alternate access locations such as Automated Postal Centers (APCs), contract postal units,, Approved Shippers, and from the sale of stamps at commercial outlets. These options supplement the Post Office network by expanding the times and places where customers can obtain service where they live, work and shop.

Retail Partners

Contract postal units offer most postal products and services in supermarkets, card stores and other retail outlets. These units are staffed by the host retailer, and most feature evening, weekend, and holiday hours of operation. The APC is a self-service kiosk that gives quick, convenient access to the most common transactions. Most of the 2,500 APCs are available in Post Offices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than $1 billion in stamps are sold on consignment at tens of thousands of commercial venues, including many ATMs, drug stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores. Stamps by Mail is a service that allows customers to order stamps and have them delivered by mail, with 3 million orders processed this year.

Alternative retail channels, which include and APCs, now account for 29 percent of retail revenue. The greatest gains this year came from stamp consignment, which increased with growing purchases in warehouse and supercenter stores. Advance information about the May price change and the availability of the Forever Stamp were also likely factors. APC revenue grew and benefited from growing customer loyalty and Postal Service use of best practices in locating and promoting the equipment. The growing shift toward alternative retail channels reflects customer preferences and a growing awareness of options like, Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, and free package pickup.