HPG considers the future of “analog” mail

The second in our series, HardingPoorman Group wonders about the future of the US Postal Service. The current perception is that the USPS is rigid and will be hard to change. From 1792 to the 1830s, the Post Office was charged with distributing news as a means of building the first continental democracy. Delivery service innovations in the 1830s-1840s included cheaper faster national service by private express companies and delivery service by local express companies. The post office was given a national monopoly on the collection and delivery of letters in the mid nineteenth century. Still, the telegraph (1840s) and telephone (1880s) provided some erosion to the post office communications monopoly. Air freight and the interstate proved immensely helpful and put the UPSP back in key position.

The emergence of FedEx and UPS in the 1970s eliminated the USPS’ dominance despite the USPS redesigning their centers to handle larger volumes. Today, they continue to lose business.

What can be done to bring the USPS into digital communications? As a part of HPG's series, we explore some mail communications ideas. Some are designed by private corporations, others have begun in other countries.

Just introduced this year, Manilla is a free, secure, personal account management service. Called a “digital concierage,” Manilla targeted the USPS’ most profitable first class transaction document mail streams; i.e., homeowner and business transactions. Manilla delivers data, bills, documents & alerts/reminders for personal accounts such as medical, insurance, warranties, government docs, catalogs, etc. Easy to use and secure, Manilla makes identifiers and passwords unnecessary, linking back to websites to pay bills or get detailed background information on any single transaction.

Another newcomer is called Volly, owned by Pitney Bowes. Volly has  built in interesting digital mailbox features. Interestingly, Volly was offered to USPS management as a form of joint venture, but was turned down.

What do you think the USPS should do to update into the digital age?