The U.S. Postal Service is shortening the promised service levels for two of its ground delivery products, syncing them with its First Class Package Service (FCPS), a move the USPS says will drive efficiency by consolidating processing and transportation of volume from all three products.
Beginning Aug. 1, SLAs for Retail Ground and Parcel Select Ground will be upgraded from a range of 2-8 days to a range of 2-5 days, at the same price, excluding shipments of hazardous materials or live animals. The USPS said the consolidation will enable greater optimization and better utilization of processing and delivery networks.
Retail Ground handles packages, thick envelopes and tubes between 1-70 lbs. that don’t require FCM service, and is used by retail customers. Parcel Select Ground is similar but used by commercial shippers.
“We expect savings operationally by reducing the number of times packages are handled as well as the reduction in equipment needed to transport packages between origin and destination facilities,” said USPS spokesperson Sue Brennan, adding no workforce changes were required. “Customers will also benefit from an affordable, medium-speed shipping service for packages in excess of one pound.”
As of May 1, new USPS standards for FCPS approved a year ago went into effect, the result of a cost-savings shift of volume from air to ground delivery. Just under a third of FCPS volume (32%) going the greatest distance saw the standard increase by 1-2 days more than the existing 2-3 days. Four percent of deliveries were upgraded from 3 days to 2 days, while 64% of deliveries remained the same.
Those changes, originally planned for the fall of 2021, were bumped to after the peak holiday season due to the impact of the Omicron variant.
“The new FCPS service standards enable additional package volume to be transported by surface transportation, which is more reliable and affordable compared to air transportation,” Brennan said.
All of these changes were based on the USPS’s 10-year “Delivering for America” plan, announced in March 2021 amid intense heat on Postmaster Louis DeJoy. The plan aims to improve service while gaining operational efficiency to curb its massive losses. Targets include meeting or exceeding 95% on-time delivery across the board, reversing $160 billion in losses and making $40 billion in capital investments, with half going to processing equipment and facility improvements.
The updates to PSG and RG standards were reviewed by the Postal Regulatory Commission, which generally agreed they improved service and were in the public interest, while making “certain recommendations” which were not detailed.
“The Postal Service will, consistent with those recommendations, closely monitor the impacts of the change to ensure it achieves the anticipated operational and customer service benefits,” the USPS said in a release.