USPS to begin expanded market test of morning grocery deliveries next month

amazonfreshIn August, the US Postal Service began a 60 day trial of a grocery delivery service in the San Francisco area in partnership with Amazon. Now the USPS is planning to expand that trial into a two year market test that would be available in other metropolitan areas (and presumably to other retailers). The Amazon trial used uniformed City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) to make the deliveries between 3 and 7 AM. The USPS won’t publicly discuss the pricing of the new service.

From the USPS notice filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Pursuant to 39 U.S.C. 3641, the United States Postal Service hereby gives notice that it intends to conduct a test of an experimental competitive product, named Customized Delivery.

Customized Delivery is a package delivery service offering that will provide customers with delivery of groceries and other prepackaged goods, primarily during a 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. delivery window. The Postal Service may also test other customized delivery windows as part of this market test. The market test, which will begin on or shortly after October 24, 2014, is designed for retailers to deliver groceries and other prepackaged goods in a customized delivery window, tailored to their unique offerings and customer base. In addition to testing the operational feasibility of customized delivery windows, this market test will also assist the Postal Service in determining the optimal pricing structure for this type of service.

Grocery delivery services are expanding across the nation, with businesses ranging from the nation’s largest retailers, to niche operators, to the popular car service Uber entering the marketplace. With its operational reach, the Postal Service has an opportunity to provide retailers a nationwide solution that offers a trained workforce and the trust and reliability of the Postal Service brand. By expanding its carrier services and offering customized delivery, the Postal Service can garner profitable revenue through new revenue streams.

Recently, the Postal Service began conducting operational testing for early morning grocery delivery. In the current process, the retailer brings groceries already packed into retailer-branded totes, some of which are chilled or include freezer packs, directly into Postal Service destination delivery units (DDUs) between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. The totes are all the same size and color, and have a QR code on the outside. The Postal Service receives a manifest file from the retailer containing the address and QR code number for each tote. This file is used by the Postal Service to dynamically route totes and create a line of travel for each route.

City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) scan totes using iPhone scanning, which provides route order information via a USPS-developed iOS application. The totes are sorted on the workroom floor by route and delivery order, and are then back-loaded to a truck for delivery. Deliveries occur from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. These deliveries are unattended — the CCA will notring the doorbell or knock on the door. The carrier places the totes in a location designated by the consumer for delivery. Totes are scanned at key steps in the process to provide tracking and visibility through to delivery. CCAs wear postal uniforms and lighted caps as a safety measure and for easy recognition by the public.

During the operations test, deliveries have been averaging 1 to 4 totes per address with an average of 160 totes per day for the 38 ZIP Codes included in the testing. Through this two-year market test, the Postal Service seeks to test and develop a long-term, scalable solution to enable expansion of customized delivery to additional major metropolitan markets across the nation. The Postal Service may also seek to test other possible delivery windows throughout the day, as part of this market test.

Postal Regulatory Commission filing.

  • Three dog night

    Actually, I don’t know if it’s a good or bad idea, but I’m interested to see how it turns out. As a city carrier I do wonder why the post office wants to use the most UNEXPERIENCED employees for a trial effort such as this! I understand that CCA’s are cheaper to work, but really, in a situation such as this shoulden’t they want to make the best effort towards making this work? CCA’s have a hard time finding their way in broad daylight, much less at night, and this whole thing hinges on customer satisfaction, not managements opinions!

  • Root’n Toot’n Union!

    So, all you do is drop off the grocery bags and don’t ring a doorbell? Talk about thefts in the dark, easy pick’ns. CCA’s have enough problems delivering on a route. Now, you want them to jump all over the city delivering groceries because people are too lazy to shop? What happens if the customer doesn’t like the cut of meat, bananas too ripe, eggs broken? Do we “return to sender”?

  • Lemp1941

    My Uncle Samuel got green Mercedes R-Class Diesel just by PART TIME WORK from a home computer. have a peek at this

  • einstein

    “People are too lazy to shop”? What does that even mean? So people who plan ahead and have their stuff delivered are “lazy”? And fat guys like you who drive their 4 ton SUV’s down to WalMart because they forgot to buy toilet paper are Great Americans? Are people “too lazy” to stop by their bank every month to get their bank statement? Are you “too lazy” to personally deliver your Christmas and birthday cards?

  • common sense

    Imagine that! I bet criminals across the country will give up breaking in to banks and businesses at night, now that they can just cruise around looking for GROCERIES! Just to fill you in- there are a few of us left who can remember when it was considered normal to get your dairy products and bread delivered to your house. It didn’t get stolen, and if you had a problem, you picked up the phone and told them about it. It ain’t new, and it ain’t rocket science. But then, I guess you think ALL package delivery is evil because it’s only used by “lazy” people, right?

  • common sense

    Glad to hear you have locks on your doors! I do too! So did my folks when I was growing up (you know, back when the milkman used to drop by?)! Why do you ask? Glad to hear you’re getting enough exercise too- it’s important for cranky old coots to stay active. By the way- I didn’t say package delivery was evil- I said

    “I guess you think ALL package delivery is evil because it’s only used by “lazy” people, right?”

    I know guys your age forget stuff a lot, but if you go back and reread your original post, you’re the one that ranted about “delivering groceries because people are too lazy to shop”. So is it only groceries that you think are so important that people have to shop for them in person? If so, my mistake!

    By the way- you are right about one thing- it is a different world these days- the crime rate is lower than it was when I was growing up- look it up if you don’t believe me.

    Now go watch Fox News (and tell those damn kids to get off your lawn!)

  • einstein

    Well I guess you’re not as dim-witted as I thought. You correctly figured out that my statements were dumb. Now try real hard and see if you can figure out that they are exactly the same as your statement- the one about people being “too lazy to shop”.

    Take your time- I know it isn’t easy for you, but we’re all cheering you on!

  • Root’n Toot’n Union!

    You have to admit, we, Americans, are lazy, in general. Don’t get your dandruff up. Yes, I’m retired and enjoying life but need to stay active. Too many Americans are over weight, young and old. When I was a kid, we used to play baseball in the neighborhood until dark every day after school. Now, kids rather sit on the couch with their electronic gadgets all day eating junk food.
    I don’t watch Fox, only reality shows, local news and my beloved Yankees. Now, go back to PBS. Freak’n kids keep climbing on my bulk head roof, not on my lawn!

  • Root’n Toot’n Union!

    God damn, I have a twin somewhere who thinks like me but in reverse!
    At least I’m the handsome one!