“Can They Deliver?”
According to its own statistics, the United States Postal Service (USPS) ended 2011 with a net loss of $5.1 billion. By the end of its second quarter in 2012, it had already lost $3.2 billion net, compared to $2.2 billion net for the same period a year prior. In that same six-month span, operating expenses went up $938 million and total mail volume dropped down 1.7 billion pieces. Year-to-date for 2012, losses already are at $6.5 billion, which is $1.4 billion more than all of 2011, and there's still a whole two quarters left in the year.
So, on the surface at least, "financially sound," isn't a way you'd describe the USPS. It sounds bleak, especially if you depend on the USPS for your business, but oddly enough, "bleak" doesn't necessarily mean "bad". In fact, for your business that may be exactly where you want the organization to be.
While it's true that costly retiree benefits, declining mail volume and congressional gridlock (the USPS needs government approval outside itself to alter certain parts of its financial structure, such as how employee benefits are funded) are strangling the USPS financially, that doesn't mean the organization has become any less efficient or useful. If anything, the opposite is true.
Predictably, the USPS has responded to a lack of revenue with an effort to (wait for it) get more revenue. These money-making efforts have manifested themselves a lot of different ways: Increased advertising, budget cuts and fat-trimming where possible, and what matters most to you—a slew of new direct mail products and generally handy business tools.
From discounts on certain types of direct mail to wholly new marketing products, the Postal Service is going out of its way to get your business. Direct mail and package services are a big deal for the USPS (package services and shipping being one of the few growth areas at a revenue gain of 13 percent last quarter), so it's promoting their use. While the USPS may be floundering, its suffering may be your gain in the form of reduced costs, new direct mail products and a drive for technical innovation and cross-market integration.