The post office has been struggling lately. They have been bleeding red ink and losing market share to internet-based communication. In fact, the U.S. post office recently announced that it will raise the price of a stamp to 46 cents.
What is the post office solution? According to Marketplace:
Canadian researcher Robert Campbell says post offices in other countries have done better because of fewer regulatory restrictions on the services they can offer.
Robert Campbell: Everything from selling cell phones and phone plans to travel insurance, doing currency exchanges, selling mortgages.
In essence, the solution Campbell offers is to provide more service unrelated to delivering mail. Ouch.
One cost-saving measure that USPS could take that would be less radical would be to follow the lead of Canada Post and get out of the retail post office business. In my entire lifetime in Canada, I cannot recall having seen, much less having been to, a “post office” run by the postal service. Instead, the postal service uses local retailers (supermarkets, drugstores, stationery stores, etc.) as franchisees.
Customers win, because of more convenient locations, with more convenient hours and attentive staff (who want you to come back and buy the things their store actually sells). The stores win, because they get some minor revenue, but more importantly they get foot traffic to their stores from postal customers. The postal service manages to shed some workforce (unions permitting) and not have to deal with maintaining retail locations.