In an effort to better serve customers, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) launched its new Retail Partner Expansion Program (a.k.a. Expanded Access) at the end of 2013. It’s the very first of its kind, bringing the familiar postal counter to select retail locations along with trained staff and convenient hours.
Staples is the first major retailer to partner with the USPS and participate in the program pilot. The first Staples postal counters in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania offer services like stamps, priority mail, priority mail express, first-class domestic and international mail and package services and standard post. Customers will also be able to ship items directly from the participating Staples locations.
Greater convenience for businesses
So what does this mean for small business owners? The new service seems to hold a lot of promise. The following are a few benefits it could bring to business owners and managers throughout the country:
1) This program will provide greater access to postage services. Small business owners usually work around the clock to ensure the success of their company. With such hectic schedules, it can be difficult to find time to stop by the post office. And on the miraculous occasion when there is time, it never seems to coincide with when the post office is actually open. The new USPS program provides a solution to these issues. With retail stores offering longer hours past the conventional 9-to-5 and convenient locations, there would be more access to the services the typical business needs.
2) It will be a time-saver. The USPS and its partners aim to successfully create a one-stop shopping experience for many consumers who otherwise would have had to make at least two stops to get their errands done. We all know that time is money for a small business, and that any way we can manage to save even a few minutes during the day is important.
3) It will encourage multitasking and greater efficiency. Need to get some printer ink and ship a few packages? With Staples and other retailers already offering many of the essential supplies for companies, small business owners would be able to take advantage of a new resource that’s set up for their success.
The program has met with some resistance from some interested parties, such as the American Postal Workers Union (APWU). It’s easy to see how the external retail channel could be seen as a threat to job security.
Another partnership occurred in late 2013 with the USPS signing a contract with Amazon.com to make Sunday deliveries possible. As the USPS explores way it can overcome some of the challenges facing it, public-private partnerships such as these could help keep it in business.