OK, so you're making an online purchase and it's time to decide on one of several shipping choices offered in the shopping cart. One day, two day, three day, cheapest way, Ground, Air, Next Day Saver, Economy, USPS and a plethora of other options exist, but the question is; which one will get you the package delivered on the day you want it and at an acceptable price point? That choice just got a bit easier since the USPS recently introduced day-definite one-, two-, or three day Priority service. The idea is to indicate precisely which day you will receive your order. This new branding is now accompanied by up to $100 in free insurance, a feature every e-commerce company has been asking for. The sleeping giant has awoken.

One of the most important elements when selecting a shipping service is knowing when it will arrive. Even though the USPS Priority service, which has a solid reputation for reliable service, has been around for many years, the old delivery window of two to three days was simply too vague, pushing merchants to only offer more costly services from UPS & FedEx. Since the USPS delivers to every address in the country every day (except Sunday), this latest announcement positions it to totally dominate this segment. As a matter of fact, it already owns 53% of the three-day delivery market now.

There's more good news: even with the new "Day Specific Delivery" announcement and free insurance up to $100, the USPS Priority service costs the same as it did last year and since there is no Fuel Surcharge, no Residential Fee, and no Delivery Area Surcharge, odds are this will be the overriding preference for e-consumers. For merchants it gets better; the Postal Service can provide free packaging and even customized and co-branded boxes or bags at no extra charge. That can amount to a big savings and a huge competitive advantage.

Enter Peter Manning, the USPS e-commerce Shipping Solutions Specialist (bet you didn't know the USPS had them) in New York City. Peter opines, "While it's not a guaranteed service like that of UPS or FedEx Ground, the reliability factor is impressive and proven and it's fast making this a great customer experience. Most merchants don't even know we have an experienced e-commerce team, made up of logistics professionals throughout the country whose sole purpose is to work with commercial merchant accounts to help them build sound fulfillment strategies." Guess what? There are over 300 of them nationwide! Manning continues, "Unlike competitors, the USPS team is not commission-based, allowing us to operate and consult without any hidden agenda. My customers' agenda becomes my agenda. If there's an opportunity to help them succeed by partnering with the USPS, we'll make it easy for merchants and their 3PLs to do business with us."

A key competitive differentiator for the USPS: it isn't looking for all of a merchant's freight, just the piece that makes the most sense. Manning states: "In a complex shipping environment, there will always be a need for multiple carriers, and consumers want options when they purchase online. I don't ever ask merchants to give me all of their freight in exchange for my best incentives. Our role is to educate customers on how to leverage our vast network to their advantage. The key is helping them have their items delivered fast and at the right price, all while integrating seamlessly into their operation. They won't be able to figure this out by visiting a retail counter at a local Post Office; rather, customers need to work with the commercial side of our organization, and we have a lot of expertise available to support them. "

Here are eight quick benefits of the new USPS Priority service:

1. Free Package Pickup
2. USPS Tracking when you ship online and retail
3. Up to $100 insurance included
4. No tiered revenue requirements
5. Delivery within one, two, or three days based on where your package originated and where it's being sent
6. Saturday delivery and residential delivery at no extra charge (Saturday Pickups can also be arranged)
7. Flat rate & regional rate pricing available. Example- a fifteen-pound parcel can be shipped regionally to a residential address for $5.32 when using the USPS regional packaging! (Compare that to the competition)!
8. Domestic pricing still to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and all US Territories

If you need a direct link to an expert to help you win business and avoid shopping cart drop-outs, contact Peter Manning at peter.l.manning@usps.gov or 212.330.5052. If he can't help, he'll put you in touch with a specialist in your area that will.