The US Postal Service has been bleeding money for years. It's been supporting an enormous infrastructure of buildings, machinery, vehicles and labor to support its original mission of guaranteed delivery of written communication to anyone living anywhere in the United States.
While the world shifted from communication via post to communication via email, the USPS continued to rely on its core business - delivery of hard-copy communication. Even as revenue declined in proportion to the growing use of email and the Internet, the USPS still had to maintain its expensive fleet.
Consumers and businesses have become accustomed to the immediacy of communication, so it's only natural for desire and demand for immediacty to expand from communication to commerce: The US Postal Service is introducing "Metro-Post."
If I buy it on line today, I want to have it in my hands today.
Back in the dot.com days, companies like Kozmo.com were founded to fill the void: Buy it today, and have it today, because we'll pick it up, and deliver it to you. One of the big problems for well-intentioned companies like Kozmo was that they lacked the infrastructure to "deliver the goods," so new costs were extremely high, in order to maintain operations.
If there's one thing that the USPS has, it's an enormous delivery infrastructure, and one that's virtually paid for. Local delivery is the core competence of the Post Office. And that's why I think this latest idea of the USPS is probably the best new idea it's ever had, in terms of generating more revenue to save itself from extinction:
Current capability meets market need, head-on.
The Post Office will have a relatively low cost to launch this new service: they have the expertise, and they have the equipment. And consumers most definitely have the demand.
And since the capabilities are in place, the USPS is ready to launch, now. And that's true innovation. And that's why I believe the USPS will be successful with this endeavor.
So what’s the point?
If you're looking to innovate to deliver value and generate revenue, you need to cover 3 bases well:
Have Competitive Advantage
Build the innovation around something that you already do well, and have the infrastructure and expertise to perform at a high level, and on a grand scale. This advantage should also be something that you alone have the capability to do well, with the presence of few if any competitors.
Alignment it with Demand
Be sure that what you're offering is something that meets market demand head-on, and that a market is already willing to pay for. You don't want to have to invest resources in selling the market on the idea.
Readiness to Launch
It's been said that only 10% of Innovation is coming up with the idea; 90% is delivering the idea to the market, in the form or a tangible product or service. The USPS vehicles already drive past retail product outlets, and into every local neighborhoods every day, so time to market is virtually immediate.
With this current idea, the USPS has a true competitive advantage over failed predecessors, there's a strong pent-up demand, and time to market is minimal.
Localized same-day delivery service just might be the innovation that transforms the US Postal Service into a vital service provider for the 21st century.