Direct Mail: State of the USPS
This year's PostalVision 2020 conference generated a laundry list of possible sneak peeks into where our Postal Service may be in the future, assuming it survives. Most ideas centered on the USPS providing a digital platform. One presentation focused on the results of a study sponsored by the Office of Inspector General called "What America Wants and Needs from the U.S. Postal Service: A Survey of Internet-connected Americans" (InfoTrends, May 21, 2013). The survey indicates the Postal Service is ingrained in American culture, and most people want it to continue to serve in existing and new capacities. Internet-connected Americans are "open to the Postal Service implementing new services and undertaking cost-reduction measures, as long as a certain level of service is maintained."
The USPS is doing its part to facilitate mail as an enabler of omnichannel marketing. It is incentivizing the integration of digital tools and technologies to further improve the success of direct mail campaigns. The use of 2D barcodes, QR Codes and augmented reality have been rewarded with modest postage discounts. MyPost, a USPS tool that will allow consumers and marketers to see what's in the mailstream before it's delivered, is designed to improve the experience of consumers and mailers, alike.
The mailing industry faces significant challenges regarding the USPS. For once, these challenges have little to do with postal delivery performance and consistency—as these have largely been achieved. The real issue: Will Congress allow the USPS to do what is necessary to become financially sound, competitive and master of its own destiny? If not, will Congress get out of the way? Or will it continue the atmosphere of uncertainty giving marketers cause to look elsewhere for solutions.
Congress needs to act and act now. The mailing industry is larger than the U.S. automotive industry, and yet we seem to not get the same required attention. We, the mailing industry, must let Congress know what is at stake and what we want them to do. We must act now—the future of the USPS depends on it!