U.S. Postal Service to test same-day delivery service Metro Post

Mail truck. Photo via Chase Elliot

It seems everyone is now experimenting with the concept of same-day package delivery — even The U.S. Postal Service.

Today, it filed documents with the Postal Regulatory Commission for a new program called Metro Post which is designed to deliver packages on the same day the orders are placed from online retailing partners. To kick off the program, which is scheduled to begin November 12th, the U.S. Postal Service is looking for 10 e-commerce providers which must have 10 physical locations nationwide. According to the documents filed with the commission, only 200 packages per day can be delivered by the Postal Service during the initial test period, which runs through mid-January.

Here’s more on how it will work from the Postal Service:

Through this market test, buyers can request same-day delivery in one of three ways: 1) utilizing a qualifying online e-commerce platform to purchase items online; 2) purchasing items at the retail stores that have partnered with test participants; or 3) visiting a test participant’s website to purchase items. Eligible buyers must live in a specified area within a selected major metropolitan area.

The daily cut-off times for  making any purchases of items delivered via Metro Post service will occur between  2:00pm and 3:00pm. Package pick-up will then be scheduled to take place at participating locations after 3:00pm, by Postal Service-uniformed delivery personnel.  The Metro Post packages may be exchanged between agents, and dynamic routing tools will be used, in order to ensure efficient delivery; at this time, the logistics have not  been finalized. Same-day delivery will occur between approximately 4:00pm and  8:00pm, as determined by the Postal Service.

The U.S. Postal Service redacted pricing information from the document (embedded below), but it said it planned to use the results of tests to help determine how much to charge for the service. It estimates the service could generate $10 million annually, and notes that Metro Post could “contribute to the financial stability of the Postal Service, by generating more package deliveries that do not currently move within the postal system.”

The Metro Post service comes on the heels of a similar test by Wal-Mart, which earlier this week said it planned to offer same-day delivery in 10 cities this holiday season. Meanwhile, London-based Shutl received $2 million in funding from UPS in August for a same-day package delivery service, while eBay also is experimenting with the concept.

Amazon.com has its own tests going on related to fast delivery, and it is also experimenting with the concept of delivering goods to locker locations at 7-Elevens and other retail stores. Amazon.com CFO Thomas Szutak seemed to douse reports that the online retailer would go big with same-day shipping, noting that “we don’t really see a way to do same-day delivery on a broad-scale economically.”

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