Today, Canada Post announced that urban centres would be receiving the community mailboxes rural areas have been using since the late ’80s.
People immediately started crying out on social media. “Why is Canada Post taking away our door-to-door service?” Canada Post’s answer is that it’s because they are not profitable.
Why is Canada Post not profitable, though? Is it because they have too many boots on the ground? Carriers who don’t have enough to do, but are unionized? Considering the post office isn’t experiencing a hiring freeze, this appears on the surface to not be the case.
Could it be that they seemingly cannibalized their own business by offering bill payment on the web instead of relying upon citizens to mail in their cheques? If you can find someone who uses that service, I would be interested in meeting them.
What Canada Post is guilty of is not making urban people schlep to the sidewalk to retrieve what few pieces of mail they actually receive; it’s that they failed to see the new economy on the horizon and build their business to suit.
What Canada Posts should be doing is doubling down on e-commerce.
Canada Post should begin a furious business development plan to lock down carrier contracts with every e-commerce company in Canada (Amazon, Indigo, the Bay and others already use the service), and to accelerate that process, they should acquire a company like Shopify or ShopLocket that empowers vendors to sell online and make Canada Post the default carrier. This would enable Canada Post to ensure a constant stream of clients and grow their business at pace with the growing online economy.
Clearly there is a market, clearly there is a need for carriers to deliver packages. Packages are more profitable for Canada Post than lettermail by several fold, so why not invest the money where the money is going?
But Canada Post shouldn’t stop there. They should retrofit derelict offices and distribution centres, making them pop-up drop-in shipping hubs for medium-sized businesses to facilitate their distribution. These buildings have the size, the layout, locations in strategic shipping areas, and Canada Post has the staff to quickly get these businesses off the ground.
Canada Post has made one strategic change today that is a mild inconvenience to customers in the service of cutting costs, but wouldn’t the costs of building super mailboxes all over major city centres better be spent actually participating and fuelling the economy, so as it grows, Canada Post can grow with it?
Part of the reason people lose faith in governments and crown corporations is that, despite their pro-business protestations, they refuse to see the world through the eyes of a business, and this has caused Canada Post to leave a lot of money on the table. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to be an engine of change than an engine slowly lumbering into its final destination to be broken down for scrap?