USPS Just Made This Major Change to Deliveries, Effective Immediately
The postal agency is expanding its delivery options.
From holiday gifts to at-home COVID tests, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has had a lot on its plate over the past few months. But that hasn't quelled complaints about delivery delays. From Columbus, Ohio, to Greensboro, North Carolina, several communities across the nation have expressed frustration with the recent timing of their deliveries. The Postal Service says that it has taken an average of nearly three days to deliver mail across the country since the start of Jan. 2022, with additional delays brought on by winter storms creating hazardous road conditions, staff shortages, and continued problems linked to the COVID pandemic. But now, the agency has created a new initiative that is set to change some of its delivery options and timing for the better. Read on to find out how the USPS is evolving.
The USPS just launched a new program to expand delivery options.
The Postal Service sent out a new statement on Feb. 22, announcing the agency had just launched a new delivery program called USPS Connect. According to the press release, the initiative is meant to help businesses manage the growing consumer demand for fast delivery and convenient returns.
"USPS Connect provides businesses of all sizes what they have been asking for—an affordable way to meet consumer demand for fast delivery," Louis DeJoy, Postmaster General and CEO of the USPS, said in a statement. "A pivotal point in our Delivering for America plan, it positions us to more fully leverage our network capacity to increase volume and revenue so we can continue to serve the American people with affordable, reliable mail and package delivery."
The agency is offering four new delivery solutions for businesses.
USPS Connect is a set of four new and affordable delivery solutions: USPS Connect Local, USPS Connect Regional, USPS Connect National, and USPS Connect Returns. "We've listened carefully to our business customers to develop this program," Jakki Krage Strako, the Postal Service's chief commerce and business solutions officer, said in a statement. "We're increasing next-day deliveries. We're also giving smaller businesses big-business rates and all businesses more user-friendly ways to interact with us."
With Connect Local, local businesses can quickly connect to local customers through next-day service in all participating locations, with same-day delivery, Sunday delivery, and pickup options available in some locations. Connect Regional and National have similar perks for businesses, just at a larger scale. And Connect Returns is a "service for businesses to offer their customers convenient returns, with free en-route pickup by their carrier or drop-off at a nearby Post Office location," per the Postal Service.
And it's planning to roll out part of this program over the next year.
USPS Connect Regional, Connect National, and Connect Returns are available now to businesses and organizations. But while USPS Connect Local might be the most important development of this new program to the average customer, it's not available everywhere yet. According to the Postal Service, this phase of the initiative started out as a test in Texas markets in Jan. 2022, and it's now already available in more than 800 Texas locations. The agency just started rolling it out to additional locations across the U.S. on Feb. 22, but some states will have to wait months. It is not expected that USPS Connect Local will hit its total target of more than 3,400 locations until Sept. 30.
This delivery solution also includes USPS Connect Local Mail, which is a First-Class Mail option for documents that weigh up to 13 ounces. "Through [USPS Connect Local], a business can have a package ready and its carrier will pick it up on their normal delivery route. A business can also opt to drop a package at the local Post Office near the end of the day to get next-day delivery or can drop off between 5 to 7 a.m. to get same-day delivery," Strako said during a media briefing, per Logistics Management.
She added, "We have consumer demand for next-day delivery that can be fulfilled very affordably. It is great for consumers who want to shop local and still receive their purchase the next day."
The USPS says customer package growth has risen significantly over the last few years.
During a press briefing, Steve Monteith, the USPS chief customer and marketing officer, said that "it is no secret that customer package growth exploded in 2020." According to the Postal Service, its shipping and package volume increased to 7.3 billion that year.
"Even though we have seen a bit of a tail off [in customer package growth], it is still much higher than what we saw in 2019," Monteith said. "We expect that to continue to grow. One of the things that the consumer has required is faster delivery, a lot of focus and attention on that one-to-two-day delivery. With USPS Connect, it is our approach to help shippers meet their consumers needs. USPS Connect builds on our unparalleled last-mile delivery network to provide solutions to shippers and their customers."