Friday, March 19, 2010

Goodbye Saturday Snail Mail

The US Postal Service is poised to propose a five-day delivery week. To cut the organization's expenses and reduce its debt load, Saturday mail delivery will very likely become a thing of the past. Here's what the USPS has to say about its future.

Of course, Saturday delivery isn't gone yet, and months of heated discussion can be expected before a final decision is reached and approved by the authorities. However, given current trends in e-mail and social media, it's not surprising that snail mail volume is way, way down.

Does Saturday delivery make sense in today's world? Although some businesses really need Saturday delivery, most Mon-Fri, 9-5 businesspeople aren't waiting by the mailbox for Saturday snail mail. Even consumers have limited use for Saturday mail these days. Direct marketers don't have to reach their customers by mail; they have numerous electronic options, and of course phone calls are even a possibility.

Meanwhile, the USPS needs to do something about its aging fleet of delivery vehicles. It's looking to electric vehicles for the next wave of innovation, but the price tag could be too steep. USPS has thousands of alternative-fuel vehicles . . . but bringing mountains of direct mail, letters, packages, magazines, and other snail mail to the mailboxes and doorsteps of U.S. consumers is not a cheap process.

The bottom line is that the USPS has to worry about its bottom line. That means we'll probably be saying goodbye to Saturday snail mail sooner rather than later. I can imagine the nostalgia. Remember the days when you had to lick a stamp? Now . . . remember what a stamp is for?

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