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Next-day delivery is the focus of a new initiative from the US Postal Service that aims to serve businesses.
The nation’s postal service on Tuesday is rolling out USPS Connect, a series of four delivery services that it is putting in place as it introduces new equipment, pricing and operations improvements.
“We’ve listened carefully to our business customers to develop this program,” said Jakki Krage Strako, chief commerce and business solutions officer, in a statement. “We’re increasing next-day deliveries. We’re also giving smaller businesses big-business rates and all businesses more user-friendly ways to interact with us.”
Here’s a look at the services offered:
- USPS Connect Local is aimed at businesses seeking to reach local customers. It’s offering next-day service in all locations. In select locations, it will offer same-day delivery, Sunday delivery and pickup options.
- USPS Connect Regional provides next-day regional entry and delivery of Parcel Select packages and Parcel Select Lightweight packages. “Most packages will be delivered the next day within a broad specified region,” USPS states, but it is advised to consult with USPS for more info.
- USPS Connect National is providing delivery solutions for all types of businesses, withnew mail processing equipment and a reconfigured network. Delivery options include USPS’ First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select Ground and Retail Ground.
- USPS Connect Returns aims to allow businesses to offer convenient returns for customers, with the option to have a returned package picked up by a carrier or dropped off at a post office.
The new initiatives come as the volume of packages has increased dramatically in the last two years. With the growth of ecommerce has come more businesses shipping goods. After growth of about 1 billion parcels each year from 2015-2019, the total number of parcels shipped grew from 15 billion-20 billion from 2019-2020, according to data from the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index. With this, USPS generated a 40% increase in parcel revenue growth year-over-year, Pitney Bowes found.
At the same time, customers are increasingly accustomed to the speedy delivery offered by services like Amazon, which has set up its own fulfillment and delivery network to get packages to customers in less than a day in many cases. This has led retailers to make moves toward same-day-delivery. In a December survey by Bringg, 99% of retailers said they expect to implement it within the next three years, according to Multichannel Merchant. The latest announcement shows USPS adopting the language of services like Amazon to provide more peace of mind for customers.
Trending in Operations
Walmart wants to provide omnichannel technology it developed in-house to other retailers.
Walmart is known for its marketplace of consumer goods. Now, it is setting up shop on a B2B software marketplace as it seeks to work with other retailers.
The news: Walmart will make services for pickup and local delivery through Salesforce’s app store. The release from Walmart Commerce Technologies is a move to expand use of the capabilities that Walmart developed in-house to power omnichannel operations, and grow a business line as a vendor to other companies in the process.
What will be available? Walmart is making the following apps available in the Salesforce AppExchange:
- Walmart GoLocal: Walmart’s local, white-label delivery service allows retailers to offer delivery under their own brand, and tap Walmart’s drivers and network.
- StoreAssist helps retailers with in-store fulfillment. The app is designed to increase packing and efficiency, while also creating a handoff experience between store employees and customers, or third-party delivery drivers. This can also enable BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store).
Key quote from Anshu Bhardwaj, senior vice president for technology strategy and commercialization at Walmart Global Technology: “Through this partnership, retailers can leverage the same innovative and scalable technologies that power Walmart’s pickup and delivery experiences. The same technology that powers Store Assist has enabled Walmart to fulfill over 830 million orders across over 4,700 Walmart stores. Together with Salesforce, retailers can scale their business and deliver the personalized, convenient experiences shoppers expect.”
Let’s break down the key parts of this partnership:
Omnichannel imperative: We’ll keep repeating it this year: The return to in-person shopping in 2022 didn’t cancel out ecommerce. Rather, it underscored how physical and digital have to operate together going forward. In-store fulfillment, BOPIS and local delivery from stores are just a few of the operations through which this blend will play out. The partnership underscored how Walmart has been expanding aggressively in omnichannel. The GoLocal service launched in 2021. By 2022, it had topped 1 million delivered and was on track to reach 5,000 pickup locations.
Walmart as tech company: Building enterprise tech and launching it on an app store. These are typically the tasks of software companies, and Walmart is now among them. Working at massive scale, Walmart is an operations juggernaut. As it sought to leverage its stores while building out ecommerce, it built the technology that connected those operations, and solved problems that were unique to an organization of its size at a time of massive change in consumer behavior during the pandemic. Having pushed out ahead, Walmart now sees opportunity to offer its capabilities to other retailers. It stood up the Walmart Commerce Technologies division last year to bring these capabilities to market.
As Bhardwaj told us in April, “We have a world class organization including technology, product and operations teams that we believe, combined with our retail strength and scale, will allow us to build a mutually beneficial flywheel that unlocks new revenue for Walmart while improving the customer experience for everyone.”
Salesforce ecosystem: There is always lots of discussion about consumer app stores from Apple and Android, as well as Shopify’s app store for commerce technology. Less is written about Salesforce’s AppExchange, but there probably should be more. It provides complementary apps to Salesforce’s cloud-based and CRM technology, creating a B2B software ecosystem. Like the other app stores, it opens up access to technology that can make Salesforce more valuable, and provides entrepreneurial opportunities for developers. Launched in 2017, the AppExchange crossed 10 million downloads in early 2022. It also includes consultants that can provide services around the apps offered. While app stores often bring to mind small startups launched by a single developer, Walmart’s entrance shows there is room even for the largest companies to offer their technology there, as well.
Commerce complement: The partnership between Walmart and Salesforce leaves room for the two companies to expand their commerce capabilities by working together. Salesforce provides tools to help retailers operate their stores across channels, and now Walmart is bringing its own technology into that mix. An announcement notes that the fulfillment and delivery services from Walmart can be used alongside Salesforce’s store management solution, called CommerceCloud, and order management. This means Walmart will also work with more brands and retailers, potentially helping to gather data that will fuel its own retail media. In turn, this can help the brands that already sell and advertise at Walmart. Further demand for its delivery network can also help to grow that business further.
“With the combined power of Walmart and Salesforce, retailers can drive success with best-in-class technology to advance their omnichannel capabilities, drive efficiency and ensure that every purchase quickly gets into the hands of the shopper – no matter where they are," Garf said.