U.S. Needs to Pay Attention to Canada’s Delivery Decisions

Feb 24, 2014 11:59 AM  By

Canada_Post_300Canada Post announced on Feb. 20 that 11 communities across the country will start receiving their mail through community mailboxes beginning this fall. This move is the first part of a five-year national initiative that could potentially save Canada Post $400 to $500 million a year.

Canada Post, just like the United States Postal Service, is experiencing a loss not only in revenue but also in letter mail volume thanks in part to digital communication. While Canada is setting plans into motion in order to make sure it’s financial future looks bright, the future of the USPS is still being debated in Washington.

While the USPS delivery service is still up in the air, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., commended Canada Post for phasing out the door-to-door delivery service. In a release issued on the committee’s website, Issa said back in December, “As technology advances, the Canadian people are changing the way they use paper mail. Canada Post has recognized this reality and responded to it.”

Issa also said since the “cash-strapped” USPS is also experiencing a decline in letter mail, “Congress and the Administration need to grant USPS the flexibility to modernize its mail delivery and eliminate unnecessary costs.”

But fixing the USPS is not just about modernizing the delivery system; it’s also about adapting to the ways in which Americans are choosing to communicate and shop. Let’s face it, physical mail is deteriorating, according to CBS News, the Postal Service has said that mail volume has fallen from 213.1 billion pieces in 2006 to 160 billion in 2013.

With the U.S. population now jumping to their computers or mobile devices to shop or communicate with a friend mailboxes_300or loved one, the USPS needs to look at ways to cut costs in order for it to survive and community mailboxes and cutting delivery days appears to be one of the best answers out there.

According to a recent focus group from the Office of the Inspector General, the USPS decided to test “how strongly Americans felt about continuing to receive mail where it is currently delivered and how open they would be to changes to that delivery locations.”

The USPS found that moving the delivery location “was a polarizing topic” and that security played a major role in those who lived in more rural areas of the country. Those who lived in more suburban areas seem to prefer the convenience of door-to-door delivery, while other Americans viewed these community mailboxes, also known as cluster boxes, as appealing since it could potentially avoid mail theft.

If the USPS folded within the next five years, 95% of respondents said they would be affected in one way or another. However, according to the research, “People seemed to sense that the Postal Service disappearing would be a bad thing, but they had trouble articulating more specifically how this would affect them personally.”

The American people understand that it is time for a change in the way the USPS delivers in order to keep up with the ever changing communication needs.  In the report the USPS states, “we witnessed a shift in mindset from a demand for services to remain the same to a willingness to adapt and compromise to preserve the Postal Service for the future.”

“Our research indicates that Americans are more comfortable with a focused Postal Service that offers reduced service levels in areas such as number of delivery days and curbside/door slot delivery than adopting new products and services to generate additional revenue,” according to the report.

The USPS needs to watch very closely how these community mailboxes are received and what money it saves in Canada. If it works for them, it could very well work for us.

Erin Lynch is the senior content producer at Multichannel Merchant. Erin can be reached (203) 899-8461 or connect with her socially on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

  • Ryan Kuwahara

    Excellent article. kudos to CANADA for doing the RIGHT thing!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mike.stanton.54 Mike Stanton

      If doing the right thing means poor service and higher prices then hoorah…. just remember this when you complain about spending in excess of a dollar to mail a letter that only gets delivered on even numbered days, or when it’s sunny….

  • MOE

    Doesn’t anyone understand that we lazy-a$$ Americans want our mail brought to the door?

    • freecountry

      Maybe you are a lazy-a&& American but anytime you want to run the 100 let me know! It has nothing to do with laziness and has all to do with security and convenience. You have the convenience of your cell phone, computer and on and on. So now who is lazy. At least I get up to get my mail while you sit on the couch….. If mail is not delivered to my door, I will pay all my bills online and remove the box. Then you will have no job. Now who is lazy?

  • mjamison

    The move to cluster boxes will further depersonalize mail. If the goal is to make the postal network irrelevant then moving delivery away from the home and the individual will surely accomplish that.
    News outlets like this one keep referring to foreign posts that have been privatized. The foreign posts that have moved to more privatized models have suffered volume declines, service problems and increased prices. That doesn’t seem to be a model that anyone should want to emulate.
    The postal network is useful and vital infrastructure that can have many uses. The key is to maintain the strengths of the network, a very large one being the ability to reach directly to homes and businesses.

  • RICHIE

    Issa has been arrested and i have never been……

  • Deliveringforyou

    Canada is on a trajectory to destroy its Post Office. Following the path of cut services to survive doesn’t work for private companies and won’t likely work for them. Eventually they will end up with a hodge podge of private delivery companies charging more and perhaps even refusing to deliver to rural areas. Sad. The US is wise to watch what is happening around the world and avoiding these disasterous cuts disguised as reforms. Norway was the first to succumb to the lure of privatization, and their delivery network is a mess.