Postage and shipping sales on the U.S. Postal Service’s website generated more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2015, making USPS.com the largest post office in the country.
The financially troubled federal agency also reported Tuesday that its site’s sales exceeded those of its brick-and-mortar post offices in the country’s largest media markets — New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas.
“We’re everywhere, so you can be anywhere,” USPS Acting Chief Marketing and Sales Officer and former Chief Information Officer Jim Cochrane said in a statement. “Your Post Office is as close as your desktop or smartphone, so doing business with us is fast and convenient during this busy holiday season and all year long.”
The news comes as the independent agency attempts to bolster its online and digital offerings.
The agency recently began piloting its “Informed Delivery” tool, which emails users black-and-white scanned copies of the envelopes that will be delivered to their mailboxes each day. Last year, the agency released a virtual reality app for the holiday season, and the post office’s former vice president of information technology John Edgar told FedScoop his agency wanted to emphasize cloud computing and strategies for making their systems more mobile friendly.
For this year’s holiday season, the Postal Service is offering real-time delivery notifications for the first time — something USPS competitors like UPS and FedEx have offered for years. Customers who sign up for alerts on the MyUSPS section of the website can opt to receive an email or text notification “within a few minutes” of a packages’ delivery.
Overall, the agency expects to deliver more than 15.5 billion pieces of mail — including cards, letters and packages — during the holiday season, which marks a 10.5 percent increase over 2014’s record-breaking volume.
Despite two successful holiday seasons in a row, the agency — which receives no taxpayer dollars for operating expenses — reported a $5.1 billion net loss in fiscal year 2015, largely due to its requirement to “pre-fund” 75 years’ worth of future retiree health benefits. The pre-funding requirement would require an act of Congress to overturn, something Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., has attempted several times.
“Because of Congress’ inability to come to consensus on postal reform legislation over the last five years, the Postal Service continues to twist in the wind, only able to address the financial challenges it faces by degrading its primary service,” Carper said in a statement Tuesday. “Customers and stakeholders are left with uncertainty about what the future holds for the Postal Service, and how the Postal Service will transform itself to remain relevant in the digital age.
But, according to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, the pre-funding debt — which topped $20 billion total in 2015 — won’t stop the agency from investing in the future of the organization.
“We achieved controllable income in excess of $1 billion for the second consecutive fiscal year, giving us some limited flexibility to make critical investments in the future of the organization,” Brennan said in a statement. “We will need to continue our efforts to grow the business and drive operational efficiencies.”