Are you stuck in the confusing cycle of students or employees picking up a package because they received a delivered notification from USPS, yet the package is nowhere to be found? Incongruent tracking notifications have caused more than their fair share of headaches. Luckily, package tracking software vendors have teamed up with USPS to provide that “last mile” tracking to ensure you and your recipients have the correct tracking information at all times.
Before a solution was developed, local post offices simply scanned incoming packages as delivered. However, this scan status does not accurately reflect the actual status of the package as it hasn’t been delivered to the final destination/recipient. The outcome of an improperly closed chain of custody has caused a great deal of confusion for customers and many filed complaints.
To combat this problem, USPS worked with several package tracking vendors to create a software integration that would tie into their online tracking portal to close this last mile accountability gap. Vendors receive a manifest of incoming packages and upload current package statuses and proof of delivery confirmations. To allow for these extra steps, USPS created five new event scans in their online tracking logs: received by agent, recipient notified by agent, delivered to recipient by agent, undelivered to recipient by agent, and not received by agent.
To help you visualize this process in its entirety, here is a sample workflow:
1. Packages are delivered to the USPS facility and received into the USPS database.
2. Packages are sorted and scanned out to be taken to the final delivery agent (school campus, corporate mailroom, etc.).
3. A report with incoming package information is generated and sent to the package tracking software vendor.
4. Packages are delivered by the USPS courier, received into the package tracking software database, and taken into the package holding area of the Mail Center.
5. The barcodes are scanned on the package and an email/text notification is sent to the student and/or employee.
6. When the student and/or employee receives their email/text notification, they can go to the Mail Center Pick Up window, swipe their ID badge, and a Mail Center employee will retrieve their package.
7. Upon receipt, the student and/or employee will sign for their package.
8. A full status report is then generated and sent back to USPS to complete the accountability loop.
USPS then found beta testers for the integration through the National Association of College & University Mail Services (NACUMS). The college and university industry receives a high volume of packages through the USPS, making it a logical place to start. As with any new process, there are bound to be some challenges as well as successes. Post offices lack the proper equipment to accommodate the new steps in their process, employee resistance due to the new process and change in scan requirements, and trouble sorting and delivering packages to campuses because they contain multiple zip codes are a few of the core issues identified thus far.
The good news is that these challenges are being addressed with solutions that are quickly being implemented. Post offices are actively being supplied with the equipment needed to accurately accommodate the new last mile tracking technology. In addition, an audit process has been created so that delivery managers can communicate incorrect scans to the post office. Most importantly, delivery partners are being encouraged to work with their local post office in order to determine a streamlined process that works best for everyone.
Ultimately it is the goal of every mailroom manager to provide a flawless experience from beginning to end and with that in mind, it has been exciting to watch this project take shape and come to life. Seeing a major entity like USPS work with individual software vendors to jointly create an improved service is what this industry is all about. To sign up for the USPS integration, contact your resident package tracking software vendor. They will be able to explain the necessary steps to get your operation up and running.
Bruce E. Little is SCLogic Vice President of Emerging Markets. Founded in 1996 SCLogic is a leading provider of innovative campus logistics software systems that leverage the latest barcode scanning, printing, mobile computing and wireless technologies. The company has thousands of enterprise, government and university users around the world. For more information about SCLogic, please visit www.SCLogic.com. Bruce can be reached at 1-888-700-7027 and firstname.lastname@example.org.