The (Digital) Future of Postal Service

Traditional mail is dying. United States Postal Office (USPS) is on the verge of bankruptcy because it is slow to adopt to this trend. Right now it offers a lose-lose model that is far from being sustainable, not socially, not environmentally and definitely not economically. " “We're in a deep financial crisis today because we have a business model that's tied to the past,” says Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general.

Can digital save the postal service and create a win-win sustainable model? We are following this issue with great interest and on this page you will find information, news and updates about it.

The links are brought to you in a chronological order. We hope you will find them useful!


Average number of mail pieces proccessed every day: 563 million (2010)

Number of milease driven each year by postal drivers: 1.25 billion (2010)

Amount of mail mail that ends up in landfills every year: 55 billion pieces

For every person in the U.S. in 2010, the Postal Service delivered (source: NYT):

30.3 pounds of standard mail (aka mass advertising or junk mail)

12 pounds of first class mail

9 pounds of first class mail

5.5 pounds of packages

Number of USPS employees: 583, 908 (2010)

Number of Post Offices: 27,077 (2010)

Updates on digital mail and the future of postal service:

The Junking of the Postal Service - Elisabeth Rosenthal,, December 3, 2011

A FEW weeks ago a petition appeared next to the mailboxes in my building’s lobby in Upper Manhattan. It read: “Save Saturday Delivery! ... Save the U.S. Postal Service!” Over the next 24 hours signatures poured onto the sheet of paper.

PostNL launches e-commerce checkout facility - Post & Parcel, November 22, 2011

PostNL has launched a new online parcel management service to help simplify the process of shopping via the Internet. Consumers can sign up for the MijnPakket (MyParcel) service from today, to co-ordinate all of their online deliveries from one place. As well as offering an overview of online purchases being delivered by PostNL, the new platform can store address and delivery information so that online shoppers do not need to fill in the details each time they shop online.

Postal Chief Seeks Ability to Cut Costs to Stem Loss - Steve Greenhouse, New York Times, November 22, 2011

Unless Congress passes far-reaching legislation soon to give the Postal Service the flexibility it needs to cut costs, the agency will suffer disastrous losses that could jeopardize its long-term future, Patrick R. Donahoe, the postmaster general, warned on Monday.

Postal Service mulls digital mailbox service - Jack Moore,, November 21, 2011

The Postal Service has transitioned from the days of horseback delivery to air mail. Now, as snail-mail volume continues to decrease, USPS is considering another frontier: email. The Postal Service Inspector General's Office issued a white paper last week presenting the case for an email service called "eMailbox" and a highly secure data storage service known as eLockbox.

Americans Mailing Fewer Letters (Infographic) - Ross Toro, LiveScience, November 21, 2011

USPS should develop digital mailbox, says Inspector General -, November 15, 2011

The US Postal Service should develop its own digital mail service and secure archiving facility, a new white paper from the Office of the Inspector General’s office has recommended. The fourth in a series of papers issued by the OIG this year looking at possible opportunities for USPS in the digital world, it proposes development of an eMailbox service and an eLockbox facility.

Pitney Bowes expands use of Volly digital mail service - Post & Parcel, November 2, 2011

As it continues working towards a consumer launch for the digital mailbox service next year, it has signed agreements with customer communications companies Allison Payment Systems and Immediate Mailing Services (IMS) to expand the use of the service by mailers. The partnership with transactional document management and mailing specialist Allison Payment Services will allow its 300 commercial customers in the financial services, healthcare, insurance and utilities industries to make use of Volly to communicate with consumers.

Coming Soon to a Digital Mailbox Near You? - ZDNet, October 17, 2011

The concept of a digital mailbox or digital mail delivery is certainly not new. In the enterprise, vendors like Esker, Océ, and Pitney Bowes offer digital mail delivery solutions whereby each piece of mail that comes into the company is scanned and delivered electronically to employee recipients.

Will Digital Mail Kill the Postal Service? - Mike Porter, Mailing Systems Technology, September 27, 2011

Mail is dying. It must be true, because I keep reading articles, tweets, and posts that proclaim it to be so. Admittedly, most of this content is generated by people who know little of postal matters, so you have to be pretty good at filtering. The publicity generated by the financial state of the US Postal Service has recently shown a bright light on our industry. And that has encouraged a lot of non-mailing people to make dire predictions and propose simple solutions to an extremely complex set of problems. They make for good headlines, but aren't really helpful.

Switch to Digital Postal Mail - Randy Dean, Planetsave, September 21, 2011

The U.S. mail that comes to your home has a carbon footprint that may surprise you. And every day, the environmental damage your mail is doing is multiplied 145 million times around the country. Every year, mail is delivered to 145 million homes and businesses six days a week. Mail trucks travel 1.25 billion miles and guzzle 400 million gallons of fuel. About one-third of the mail delivered every year – 55 billion pieces – ends up in landfills.

Has the time come for digital mail delivery? - Heather Clancy , SmartPlanet, June 8, 2011

Even though the United States Postal Service (USPS) can’t seem to shrink its financial losses, there is ONE thing that is has managed to reduce over the past 12 months — its carbon dioxide emissions footprint. The agency reported in the beginning of June (its first “official” report!) that it has managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent since its fiscal year 2008 baseline measure.

Why Bankruptcy is Not Such a Bad Idea for USPS - Raz Godelnik, Triple Pundit, June 1, 2011

Bloomberg Businessweek reported last week that USPS is on the verge of bankruptcy. There are many reasons for that, but one thing I find disturbing is that USPS’ plan to raise its falling revenues is mainly based on sending you more junk mail and convincing banks and other businesses to keep sending you paper bills. So even though I like mail (who doesn’t?), I think bankruptcy might not be such a bad option in this case.

Accenture Adds Digital Mail to Postal Portfolio - Business Wire, March 30, 2011

Expanding its line of postal services, Accenture (NYSE: ACN) today announced it will enable postal agencies worldwide to offer digital mail – a digital version of printed mail securely delivered to an online mailbox – to their customers to recapture lost revenue from a steady decline in mail volumes and to compete against a growing number of independent operators currently offering digital mail direct to consumers.


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