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Postal Service proposes to unify ground-delivery products

Retail Ground, Parcel Select Ground to be consolidated with First Class Package Service

The U.S. Postal Service formally proposed on Wednesday to combine three of its ground parcel delivery products into a single offering that it said will simplify the delivery experience for shippers.

The proposed offering will incorporate the Postal Service’s Retail Ground and Parcel Select Ground products, in which parcels weighing up to 70 pounds are shipped with two- to five-day transit times, with its First Class Package Service (FCPS), which covers shipments weighing up to 1 pound and has a similar time-in-transit window.

The proposed change is expected to take effect in January. It is subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency that oversees the Postal Service’s products, services and pricing.

The Postal Service late last month telegraphed such a move when it announced that it was narrowing time-in-transit windows for Retail Ground and Parcel Select Ground to two to five days from two to eight days. About one-third of shipments booked with FCPS have two- to five-day transit times. Most of those shipments involve longer-distance moves. The balance of FCPS deliveries have two- to three-day transit times.

Parcel Select Ground and Retail Ground target users willing to accept slower transit times for lower rates. Parcel Select Ground, under which parcel consolidators gather huge volumes of packages and place them deep into the postal network for last-mile deliveries, is aimed at commercial shippers. Retail Ground, which features single-piece shipments handled end to end by the Postal Service, is sold at postal counters to noncommercial customers.

The moves are part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s efforts to find the sweet spot between reliability and price for e-commerce customers not requiring urgent action on their shipments. As part of the balancing act, DeJoy wants to shift as many deliveries as possible to the Postal Service’s underutilized ground network from air transport services, which he has called costly and unreliable.

Gordon Glazer, who heads the postal practice for transport consultancy Shipware LLC, said postal shippers will benefit from a move to unify all of the ground services under one umbrella. At the same time, Glazer said the agency needs to offer more granular pricing for its Priority Mail two- to three-day in-transit product, the only offersing that falls exclusively within that time window.

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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.