What Can the Postal Service Learn from Uber?

Alexey Boldin/Shutterstock.com

The Office of the Inspector general suggested apps for mobile payment, and for scanning packages and paying for their pickup.

The Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General wants the agency to take cues from Uber's and Starbucks' mobile apps. 

USPS has offered its mobile app, USPS Mobile, since 2009, and it now has about 7.2 million downloads. USPS Mobile has a variety of functions, including Post Office location, package pickup scheduling and package tracking. But in a new report on mobile technology, inspectors pushed the agency to upgrade the app to take advantage of unique smartphone features, such as camera functionality and GPS tracking instead of simply adapting USPS' regular Web services to a mobile format. OIG recommended USPS adopt a “mobile-first” campaign in which mobile technology is the "focal point of developing ways to engage with consumers."

For instance, Starbucks' app, which lets customers pay by scanning their smartphones at the register, is "easy to use," and it's "equally critical for the Postal Service to ensure its apps are easy to use and integrate well with the smartphone’s features," the report said. 

Startups like ride-sharing service Uber and lodging-sharing site Airbnb "that are able to make consumers’ lives easier ... are more likely to find success."

USPS’ OIG has been pushing the agency to upgrade its technology, often looking to the private sector for ideas. Earlier this month, the office urged USPS to consider using the "Internet of Things," a connected network of devices and sensors to set up digital mailboxes and self-monitoring delivery vehicles, among other applications.

In the report on mobile technology, OIG pitched several ideas for five new USPS mobile apps:

  • Scan and Send would allow a user to scan an item to ship, order a box for that item, get the box delivered, schedule a home pick-up and pay for postage;
  • Passport Control, an app to help customers make appointments for passport services and auto-fill passport forms; 
  • Mobile Bill Pay, a payment platform on which users could scan paper bills, and make payments accordingly; 
  • Money Orders, an app through which customers could send orders, save information about frequent recipients, and speed up the in-person process. (Money orders generated $165 million for USPS in 2014, the report noted);
  • Coupon Collection, to help customers store and organize coupons they receive in the mail. (This used to be included in the USPS Mobile app but was removed due to "technological limitations," the report said. But with the improvement of phone cameras, Coupon Collection "could be a viable opportunity at this time.")

OIG also suggested a few features that could be added to the USPS Mobile app, including:

  • A system allowing customers to import mail-to address from their address book contacts, and auto-filling forms with recently used information
  • Sending package recipients a text when a package is sent to them, letting them arrange a pickup time and location, and offering faster delivery for a fee 
  • Letting users track wait times at Post Offices, so customers can avoid long lines. (Analysis of social media posts about the Post Office shows that its customer service is generally viewed negatively, the report said. Only 1.6 percent of social media posts suggested positive customer experience, especially because of long wait times, the report said.) 

But not all mobile apps have worked out for USPS, OIG noted. Last year, the Postal Service released an "augmented reality" app that made its traditional blue mailboxes appear to be animated when users scanned them with their smartphone cameras. 

Though the app was "applauded by many tech writers for using new technology in a campaign," the users themselves were "not pleased," the report said -- many called the app "buggy" and slow to load, giving it a 2.5 out of 5-star rating in the app store. 

(Image via  / Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.