U.S. Postal Service can survive structural change, not inevitable

April 19, 2013


Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Communication with clients has drastically changed over the last decade. While we still send out quarterly reports in the old U.S. mail packet with a formal letter, other mailings are rare. E-mail is the favored method these days, and it surprises me that my older clients are well-versed in this area.

We even text clients now. Need a reminder on an appointment? We’ll send out a text message. Clients text us when their deposits show up in their accounts. And that paper check? Forget about it. Money gets moved with the click of a mouse.

So it’s no surprise that the U.S. Postal Service is struggling. While other businesses have struggled through a difficult and long recession, this is different. This is a business going through a structural change. Mail, as we have known it, is becoming obsolete.

Along the way, we have lost the fine art of letter writing. Messages are autocompleted or are abbreviated in strange shorthand with emoticons attached. This less formal way of communicating has become accepted practice.

Now social media is stepping into the spotlight. We “Facebook” clients and “tweet” information to them. Public companies are even using social sites to release important information about their business. It’s a new age.

And delivery to my door has taken on a new meaning. While bills and notices show up in my inbox, clothing and household goods show up on my doorstep. Online retailing is growing by leaps and bounds, so the transportation business for those packages has grown, as well. The problem is that the U.S. Postal Service has been slow to see and respond to the transition. FedEx and UPS are far ahead in this game.

With deep enough pockets, any business can survive a recession, but no business can survive a structural change. Facing the inevitable is never pleasant.


Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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