Monday, December 12, 2011

UPS/USPS "Coopetition"?

I've noticed this three times in the last two weeks: something I've ordered online was shipped from the seller with a UPS shipper number. Then, as the item arrived within the UPS system to my local hub area, it was "transferred" and delivered by USPS, the Postal Service.

I think this is a FANTASTIC idea. I'd like to shake the hand of the person that came up with it.

Think of it: UPS has the worldwide infrastructure to efficiently move large amounts of bulk cargo all over the place. But, their Achilles Hell is the lack of a widespread infrastructure at the end delivery point, especially to homes (which is why they charge more for single-box deliveries to homes versus bulk to commercial locations). By the same token, the Postal Service has the kick-ass infrastructure for delivery of small bulk to individual homes/locations (and, I believe it's mandated by law?) yet their Achilles Hell is the lack of a solid infrastructure for transfer of bulk cargo world/nationwide (and, in fact, is what they're talking about reductions in that to save money).

Is there a more-perfect match?

So I'm guessing someone at UPS decided to leverage that local infrastructure in a brilliant manner, and that was to let USPS' delivery system handle the end point. They'd use their worldwide cargo infrastructure to get it into the area, then hand off USPS. F*****g brilliant.

Now, here's the key question, for both USPS future and for us: is USPS smart enough to adjust their business model to leverage long-haul delivery the OTHER way, by handing off their bulk cargo transfer back to full-private companies like UPS, FedEx, etc? Are they willing to use their competitive advantage for the stuff they do well and let "the other guys" handle the longer stuff, or are they going to continue with a failing business model into oblivion?

I really, really, REALLY hope someone high up at USPS buys something from Amazon, gets a tracking number, and sees what's going as that package heads to his house and is handed to him by a fellow employee...

Brilliant. Clever. Excellent thinking, UPS.