Monday, October 14, 2013

Columbus Day, Mail, Stamps and Macy's

I don't know exactly why, but I definitely felt the presence of "Columbus Day Today." One of those ways I felt it was when I checked the mail this evening.Nothing...oh yea, Columbus Day.

It made me think of all the conversations about the rising price of stamps (potential 49 cents for first class come mid-January, 2014).

I'm not a big fan of rising prices of stamps...since there's so many alternatives and it seems like something kind of special (like a birthday card, a paper invitation to a party or even a simple letter in the mail) has an increased cost and other options (eChristmas cards, anyone?) seem more viable.

One of the conversations that has come up over the years is whether the US Post Office could benefit from cutting service...say no Saturday mail, or even a mid-week day. I admit, I don't love the idea, but I might be willing to make the sacrifice.

That said, cutting service could also open up more opportunities for other private providers who've managed to make mail financially viable...which is important in the world of online retailers.

So, it's hard to say where cutting mail service really fits into the picture. Not to mention, I understand the legal policies that surround the mail (for example, laws that allow people to be noticed by first class mail, with a certain assumption of reasonable mailing times).

If you ask me, the real problem with the US Postal Service is not Saturday delivery, or even rising prices, but a customer focused business model. I've seen USPS commercials on TV with smiling faces, but I don't see those same faces at the counter...ever. It's like visiting the DMV or Social Security Office more than visiting a business.

Yet, if it made sense, I would be okay with less days of service.

Although, I think when people would get really itchy about less mail would be around the holidays. Checking the mail has become increasingly important as you time out the receiving of online purchases in the mail, to wrap them up consolidate with other gifts and mail back out again. Some times you need as many days of mail service as you can get.

I expect that the conversation of online retailers and brick and mortar retailers comes up again in the news this holiday season. I've heard the rumblings, especially with the announcement of Macy's opening on the evening of Thanksgiving this year.

SeaWorld Float Sketch found here
I think it's too bad that Macy's has to do this. I really do. Sure they'll be some backlash, but how much can it really be - we've seen other retailers do it to, and that's too bad too. They claim that they need to compete with the online retailers...although, of course...retailers like Macy's also have online presences, so it doesn't completely make sense.

Speaking of Macy's potential controversy, I got an e-mail tonight from the people behind the documentary The Cove with the details of their upcoming media blitz against Macy's. The concern of "The Cove People" is the Macy's Parade new SeaWorld float supports ocean animal captivity. So the social media blitz is to begin shortly. Way to go Macy's for staying out of the bad press zone.

Happy Columbus Day, whatever that means to you.