May 23 2012 05:15 PM

An e-commerce consumer became anxious due to the fact her delivery had not arrived when she expected it, so she called the customer service department to track it down. OK, so this happens every day, right? The significance of this particular event was that the call transpired after she had already received delivery. The package was sitting on her front porch for all to see, but she was unaware because she didn't look. Instead, this shopper relied on the web tracking information that displayed "still in transit" and the CSRs from where she made the purchase that had the same information. The carrier was the USPS, who provided a flawless delivery but hadn't updated its website with delivery information in time to calm our anxious consumer.

This is one example that highlights why many consumers opt to use more expensive services provided by UPS and FedEx, both of who provide real-time package tracking. The difference in the cost of a one-pound package is staggering with UPS/FedEx, costing about $9.00 for Ground Residential (one to six days) service while the USPS charges about $3.00 for a First Class Package (two to three days). For long-range shippers, the USPS usually delivers a lot quicker, even at the lower price point. The tracking problem is equally frustrating for e-commerce companies that must staff up to answer these calls. For consumers and e-commerce companies alike, there's good news: This problem is about to become a thing of the past.

Currently USPS personnel scan a package at the moment it is delivered. However, before it gets posted online, the scanner must be physically docked at a postal facility, which can cause hours of delay and, in this case, it's what caused our e-commerce consumer to "zone out." The USPS recognizes this shortcoming and has decided to stamp out older technology. This will enable consumers to get the most reliable home delivery service, pay less (a lot less) and get real-time tracking, including delivery notifications.

Current and Future Offerings
The USPS already offers in-transit tracking using technology called IMpb (Intelligent Mail & Parcel Barcode) on Parcel Select, First Class Package, Priority and Express mail. In 2013, this service will be expanded to include real-time Delivery Confirmation, at no extra charge. Of course, that's as long as you utilize PC technology to create your USPS shipping labels (no hand-written address labels, please), a service provided by many companies, such as DYMO Endicia, and is included with many multi-carrier shipping apps.

Along with reliable service, great tracking and lower cost, consumers have an option to get competitively priced insurance from a USPS Preferred partner, U-PIC, who will provide up to $25,000 (approvals needed) of protection per package. To make it even more convenient, UPIC's insurance is integrated into DYMO Endicia's (listed as: "Endicia Parcel Insurance") making it easy for customers to purchase.

So there you have it: YES! The USPS is "On Track." With major improvements in tracking and great partners such as DYMO Endicia and U-PIC, the USPS shipping business will continue to grow. That will provide desperately needed revenue, help cut costs for shippers and save consumers money. If you haven't already, give the USPS a try and let me know how it works out.

I hope this article helps you Ship Better and Save Money!