Yo, Mailman, Bring Me a Flounder and a Dozen Roses

From Dead Tree Edition Blog.

From dropping off water bottled to running a concierge service, the U.S. Postal Service is increasingly venturing into activities that have little to do with traditional mail delivery.

What’s next, Postal Pizza?

The U.S. Postal Service’s recent experiments with new lines of business include delivering fresh fish, flowers, cases of water, and ready-to-cook meals.

In St. Louis, the agency is even trying out a “concierge service” called MailMyWay that picks up unpackaged items, places them into Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, and mails them.

With traditional letter mail in slow decline, the Postal Service is eager to bolster its finances by developing new lines of business that leverage its massive delivery network and capabilities.

But getting such ventures off the ground is not always easy or simple. USPS and 1-800-Flowers announced a deal in late 2012 but only now are getting ready for a limited test in New York.That will be on top of two existing NYC tests – delivery of fresh and frozen seafood for the famed Fulton Fish Market and next-day delivery of bottled water for Nestle. (Why try out these ventures in the nation’s most populous city? Hey, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.)

USPS’s same-day delivery service, MetroPost, is being tested in New York and Phoenix, with plans for expansion to 1,800 ZIP codes all across the country,Ed Phelan, Vice President of Delivery Operations, told a recent gathering of mailers.

Sunday delivery of packages for Amazon has been growing rapidly, with the e-commerce giant “looking at expanding the service to all serviceable ZIP codes across the country,” Phelan’s presentation said. That has USPS examining where it can place more delivery hubs for the service.

Another growing Amazon-USPS partnership is Amazon Fresh, which delivers groceries to doorsteps in parts of the New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco areas.

“We’re branching out as fast as we can while being careful not to sacrifice the quality and convenience our customers expect,” says the Amazon Fresh web site. The service is coming soon to Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; and Sacramento, according to USPS.

Phelan also said the Postal Service is providing deliveries for Blue Apron, which sends chilled meal-ingredient packages with recipes to its subscribers.

The question for USPS’s traditional clientele – you know, the folks who send out, like, letters and stuff that go into actual mailboxes – is whether the new ventures will strengthen the Postal Service’s finances or distract it from serving the customers who still pay most of its bills.

Reprinted from Dead Tree Edition blog.