Should USPS Retrofit Facilities for E-commerce Fulfillment?
Three trends make me wonder if there's money to be found in U.S. Postal Service real estate.
First, the Postal Service continues to bleed, despite higher revenue—no thanks to Congress for its inability to pass meaningful, fixable reforms.
Second, network consolidation continues apace—with 141 facilities consolidated to date in the Postal Service's plan for Network Rationalization—and another 82 slated for 2015
Third, commercial real estate is booming—in the market for e-commerce warehouses—as online shopping now accounts for 6.2 percent of U.S. total sales. Industrial space is growing at an annual rate of 14.5 million square meters per year, while retail is rising at just 6 million square meters.
Is there an opportunity for some matchmaking here? The Postal Service does have a lot of commercial property for sale—43 buildings as of today's writing—but what if some property could be reconfigured for e-commerce fulfillment? As the USPS expands its parcels business, it may make sense to reassess USPS assets—particularly as facilities are made vacant—and to determine some opportunities for expanding its parcel business, assessing suitability for e-commerce—including leasing to private firms—and taking advantage of USPS's huge inventory and infrastructure advantages—particularly in and near population centers.
Same-day fulfillment is really a sparkler being tested and implemented in several cities. Tomorrow, it's bound to be a fulfillment staple.