USPS launches new, less expensive parcel service
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
In a bid to capture more packages for next-day delivery, the United States Postal Service has created a new, cheaper parcel service called “USPS Connect Local.”
The service will enable shippers to get next-day, first-class service on document packages of up to 13 ounces for $2.95, according to an order from the Postal Regulatory Commission. The USPS also will offer expedited service on shipments under new “USPS Connect Regional” and “USPS Connect National” programs.
The agency also created a fourth program to help speed product return parcels. The program is called “USPS Connect Returns” and promises free return package pickups by letter carriers or drop-offs at post offices.
The Connect programs appear to be aimed at mailers who find the Postal Service’s regular services difficult to manage or too costly.
“USPS Connect provides businesses of all sizes what they have been asking for — an affordable way to meet consumer demand for fast delivery,” said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
“It’s all about the right price,” said Jakki Krage Strako, the Postal Service’s chief commerce and business solutions officer, at a press briefing Feb. 17.
In its order, the Postal Regulatory Commission cited four potential competitors of the Connect programs. They are United Parcel Service, FedEx Corp., local couriers and small document companies.
Although parcel volume has fallen in recent months from COVID-19 pandemic highs, USPS officials said they still believe there will be strong demand for parcel mail services.
Amazon and other major e-commerce retailers have made making returns easier a key part of their programs. They offer multiple locations for returns, promise quicker refunds, and often use UPS and FedEx for their returns.
Postal officials stressed the booming business demands for speedy deliveries and the use of the agency’s vast mail network for the rapid delivery of parcels via the Connect programs.
One of the key aspects of these programs is that shippers will be encouraged to take any shipments directly to the post office that serves their community.
That will enable local parcels to be delivered the next day without having to go to another postal facility, Strako said.
The USPS Connect Local program has been tested in Texas, where it proved to be successful, officials said.
Delivery times are not guaranteed under most of the Connect programs.
The local program does require mail entries to be made at designated post offices near the final destination by certain times.
The Postal Service has created new envelopes and mailing labels for the new service. There are flat-rate mailers and envelopes that carry the “USPS Connect Local” name and are marked “For Domestic Use” in black ink. All of the Connect Local packaging is free, according to the Postal Service.
Customers are advised to use the agency’s “Click-N-Ship” postage and addresses.
They should bring the envelopes with postage affixed “to a designated local postal facility early in the morning for same-day delivery or 30 minutes before back dock closing for next-day delivery,” according to the Postal Service.
Free package pickups are being offered in some communities for next-day deliveries. Sunday deliveries will be available in some areas for an extra fee.
USPS Connect is available as of Feb. 22 in New York and Texas and in New Jersey as of Feb. 28.
It is not immediately available in other states, but is being rolled out over several months, according to the USPS Connect website.
Additional information on the new USPS Connect programs is available online or by calling 855-698-7772.
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