The US Postal Service published in the Federal Register its completed plan to slow down deliveries of First Class Mail and Periodicals starting October 1, 2021.
Earlier this year, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy proposed many operational changes and investments as part of a ten-year plan to achieve service excellence and financial sustainability for the Postal Service.
This change in delivery standards for First Class Mail is one of the many proposals from March and is set to become the new standard just before this year’s busy holiday season.
For many online sellers of smaller and light items, First Class Mail is an important mail service, and these changes will bring new challenges.
Also, eBay sellers who use eBay’s popular Standard Envelope program will be affected as well as that program is a US Postal Service First Class Mail product.
How Will These Changes Impact US Postal Service First Class Mail?
In its Federal Register filing, the US Postal Service said it plans to shift more First-Class Mail in the contiguous United States to surface transportation versus air cargo or commercial air transport. They expect the change to reduce transportation costs while improving reliability and on-time delivery.
In a nutshell, here is the expected delivery impact on First Class Mail, USPS believes the changes will have.
- 61% of mail should not see any changes in delivery times.
- 70% of mail should be delivered within 3 days or less.
- The remaining mail should see 1 to 2 days in additional delivery time.
As part of the rationale to introduce this change, the US Postal Service said, “The Postal Service further notes that it has been unable to achieve its service performance targets for many years and that these service failures illustrate the weakness of the current transportation model.”
It further believes that by changing the delivery standards, shippers and senders will send out mail sooner in anticipation of the longer delivery times but will see more on-time deliveries.
Of course, for online sellers, the problem is that many buyers have expectations of short delivery times, mostly caused by larger online retailers like Amazon that can deliver many products to most US addresses within two days.
Now, these small sellers will have to explain that deliveries that previously took 2 to 3 days could take 3 to 5 days and that this is the new normal, not an oddity due to the holiday season rush or some weather event.
In addition, sellers may see more questions from buyers about tracking updates as the U.S. Postal Service’s tracking system doesn’t offer many intermediate tracking points beyond the local pick-up and delivery areas.
Longer First Class Mail will most probably bring more questions from buyers who are not aware of the changes by the US Postal Service. It’s unthinkable this will not result in more customer service inquiries.
All of this comes in addition to a second price increase this year by the US Postal Service that will go into effect on August 29 and impacts First Class mail as well.
Higher prices, slower delivery, that is the message the US Post Office is sending this year to shippers who rely on First Class Mail for fulfilling orders. Unfortunately, other services like Priority Mail or UPS and FedEx parcel shipments are not financially feasible options for many small business sellers.
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