USPS launches new, cheaper package service
Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister
In an effort to capture more packages for next day delivery, the United States Postal Service has created a new, less expensive package service called “USPS Connect Local.”
The service will allow mailers to get first-class next-day service on document packages up to 13 ounces for $2.95, according to an order from the Postal Regulatory Commission. The USPS will also offer expedited service on shipments under the new “USPS Connect Regional” and “USPS Connect National” programs.
The agency has also created a fourth program to help expedite product return packages. 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 senders who find the Post Office’s regular services difficult to manage or too expensive.
“USPS Connect provides businesses of all sizes with what they demand – an affordable way to meet consumer demand for fast delivery,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said.
“It’s all about price,” Jakki Krage Strako, the Postal Service’s director of business and business solutions, said during a Feb. 17 press briefing.
In its order, the Postal Regulatory Commission named four potential competitors to the Connect programs. These include United Parcel Service, FedEx Corp., local couriers and small documentation companies.
Although package volume has fallen in recent months from COVID-19 pandemic highs, USPS officials said they still believe there will be strong demand for postal mail services. .
Amazon and other major e-commerce retailers have made returns simplification a key part of their programs. They offer multiple locations for returns, promise faster refunds, and often use UPS and FedEx for their returns.
Postal officials pointed to booming business demands for fast deliveries and the use of the agency’s extensive courier network for fast parcel delivery through Connect programs.
One of the key aspects of these programs is that senders will be encouraged to bring their mail directly to the post office that serves their community.
This will allow local packages to be delivered the next day without having to go to another postal establishment, Strako said.
The USPS Connect Local program has been tested in Texas, where it has proven effective, officials said.
Delivery times are not guaranteed in most Connect programs.
The local program requires incoming mail to be made at designated post offices near the final destination during certain hours.
The Postal Service created new mailing envelopes and labels for the new service. There are flat rate mailers and envelopes with the name “USPS Connect Local” and marked “For Home Use” in black ink. All Connect Local packaging is free, according to Swiss Post.
Customers are advised to use agency “Click-N-Ship” postage and addresses.
They should bring the stamped envelopes “to a designated local postal facility early in the morning for same-day delivery or 30 minutes before the back dock closes for next-day delivery,” according to the Postal Service.
Free package pickups are offered in select communities for next day deliveries. Sunday deliveries will be available in some areas for an additional charge.
USPS Connect is available from February 22 in New York and Texas and in New Jersey from February 28.
It’s not immediately available in other states, but is rolling out over several months, according to the USPS Connect website.
Additional Information on New USPS Connect Programs is available online or by calling 855-698-7772.
Connect with Linn’s Stamp News: