Online commerce has been growing steadily over the last few years. As more people receive items they order online, there’s an increased demand for efficient tracking tools. Companies such as Amazon and FedEx are known for keeping up with the latest technology to keep their customers informed about their deliveries. The USPS, however, is also making advances in this area. With their latest feature, Informed Delivery, customers can now preview their mail and manage items that are scheduled for delivery. This feature will make it easier for individuals and businesses to know when important items are arriving. It’s also helpful for businesses that send physical products, as customers can more easily track arrival time.
What is Informed Delivery?
As the name suggests, Informed Delivery provides USPS customers with information about scheduled deliveries. The features for this service include:
- Customers can sign up for free after verifying their identities.
- Once you sign up, you can receive notifications on any computer, phone, or tablet. You can receive notifications by text or email.
- Preview mail scheduled for delivery. You can get advance notice of items that will soon be delivered. Digitally preview letter-sized mail to see what will be arriving and who it’s from.
- Leave delivery instructions. You can provide information such as where to leave a package or if no one will be home on a certain day.
- Schedule redeliveries. If you miss a package, you can schedule redelivery.
- Compatible with Alexa. You can access Informed Delivery as an Alexa Skill and get information about your deliveries. Rather than logging onto the website, you can simply ask Alexa about your upcoming deliveries as well as other information about USPS services (e.g. shipping quotes or locating a zip code).
Electronic Signature Online
Electronic Signature Online (eSol) is another valuable service available as part of Informed Delivery. eSol allows customers to sign for packages electronically, letting them avoid the frustrating experience of missing deliveries because no one was home to sign for them. With eSol, customers can electronically sign for Priority Mail Express® and Signature Confirmation™. This authorizes carriers to make these deliveries without a physical signature.
USPS is Keeping Up With Technology in Many Ways
The USPS is more technologically savvy than many people realize. A statement from the USPS provides several examples of how the postal service incorporates cutting edge technology in many of its services.
- Intelligent mail barcodes are used to identify pieces of mail, trays, and containers, allowing mail to be tracked from induction to delivery.
- They are the world leader in OCR (optical character reader) technology.
- Mail location, speed, and movement are tracked with more than 260,000 hand-held scanners.
- They possess the world’s largest gantry robotic fleet, using sophisticated robotic systems to move mail trays.
USPS Web Tools
Informed Delivery is only one of the latest digital marketing features offered by the USPS. They actually have a whole suite of web tools that make it easier for businesses to manage e-commerce and other digital marketing tasks. Businesses that use online shopping carts and shipping software have free access to APIs that let you check shipping rates, track packages, and schedule pickups. Shippers and developers can connect with these tools via the Web Tools website.
Benefits of USPS New Digital Services
The USPS embracing the latest digital technology will have widespread benefits for its customers. Even those who use other services for certain purposes often need to use the USPS. There are notable advantages to both individuals and businesses.
People Are More Likely to Interact With Previewed Mail
People today are overwhelmed with email. They’ve been overwhelmed with physical mail for even longer, making it harder to get recipients to respond to or even open items. By giving recipients a chance to preview their mail, the USPS has found a way to improve engagement. This is backed by research conducted during a pilot program, which indicates that people are more likely to engage with mail after seeing an image of it beforehand.
Marketing Services for Businesses
Providing customers with more information is helpful for businesses that ship products or that engage in direct mail marketing. Customers waiting for shipments can more easily track their deliveries. Informed Delivery also allows senders to include extra information with mail previews. A business can remind customers of their orders’ contents or include a call to action such as inviting them to visit their website. This provides businesses with a powerful way to communicate with customers before their item actually arrives.
USPS: Still Valuable to Customers and Businesses
While Amazon, UPS, and FedEx have cut into some USPS territory over the last decade, the government-owned service is still massively relevant to modern communications. Pew Research shares some pertinent information about the USPS, its services, and how people perceive it. For example:
- 91% of Americans have a favorable view of the USPS, which is quite impressive. By comparison, you can look at The Verge Tech Survey 2020, which shows that Amazon has the highest favorability rate, the same as the USPS at 91%. Apple is 81% and Facebook is 71%.
- While the USPS delivers less mail overall than it used to, volume for shipping and packaging has doubled over the last decade to over 6 billion items last year, indicating that many people and businesses still use the USPS for shipping.
- In keeping with the digital age, the USPS is gradually reducing the number of brick and mortar facilities. The total number has dropped by about 9% over the last decade.
Informed Delivery Makes Mail Service More Convenient for Customers
The preview feature of Informed Delivery will make customers better informed and more comfortable when receiving mail. The program has already proven its usefulness. In 2019 alone, 12 billion images were sent to 24 million customers. Customers today are expecting ever more sophisticated features that let them access information on their devices. The massive growth of e-commerce is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, which puts even more pressure on delivery services to meet rising demands for features such as tracking packages, digital signatures, and more. Informed Delivery is part of the USPS’s strategy to meet the needs of customers in the digital age.