The 3-floor Borders in Philadelphia is closing down — the once icon of Center City shopping will soon be no more. When thinking this over, my train of thought let me to thinking about the future of business in general and methods of buying and selling goods and services. This “store closing” phenomenon is happening all across the country and not just to book stores, but all different kinds of small and large businesses with a physical location.
As a “small business” owner, I looked into property prices and rental options in Philadelphia. I did some simple math, factoring in hiring workers and operation costs and there is hardly any possible way that I would be able to make profit. This is why my main method of business will be over the internet — perhaps go into “real life” locations through advertising and networking, but never having my own storefront.
Many other businesses are realizing this, too, and they rely on shipping through the United States Postal Service — but better priced alternatives are definitely needed. Sure, there is UPS and Fed Ex, but their prices are often higher, which sends businesses back to the government entity. Also, UPS and Fed Ex are prohibited, by law, to deliver to mail boxes, so you would probably never want to send a letter through them — and this is what makes USPS a monopoly, I would say. Here is some more information on the USPS monopoly and competitors,
FedEx and United Parcel Service (UPS) directly compete with USPS express mail and package delivery services, making nationwide deliveries of urgent letters and packages. Due to the postal monopoly, they are not allowed to deliver non-urgent letters and may not use U.S. Mail boxes at residential and commercial destinations. These services also deliver packages which are larger and heavier than USPS will accept. DHL Expresswas the third major competitor until February 2009, when it ceased domestic delivery operations in the United States.
A variety of other transportation companies in the United States move cargo around the country, but either have limited geographic scope for delivery points, or specialize in items too large to be mailed. Many of the thousands of courier companies focus on same-day delivery, for example, by bicycle messenger.
USPS cannot operate within it’s budget, year after year, thus having to raise it rates — and this also may be because of the competition gaining popularity (or just because they’re part of the government). Also, technology is changing shipping methods, through printing stamps and postage, while USPS slowly and painfully attempts to cut employment, which it is having a hard time doing. No matter what, you’re pretty much stuck using them to send letters, it always is costly to buy a book of stamps. Also, when they raise rates, so do competitors, simply because USPS is so huge and regulates the postal market.
It can be assumed the internet (through email) will soon replace the need to send snail mail letters, thus USPS will not be needed anymore. Hopefully UPS and Fed Ex will drop their prices just a little bit to be more affordable than USPS. I tried researching into whether or not there is a law that prevents them from being cheaper, but I couldn’t find anything — this certainly may be the case and I wouldn’t doubt it for an instant.
Back to businesses, like I was saying, postal mail and parcel deliver will still be necessary, even with the rise of technology, because when books and newspapers turn into e-print, you can’t wear your iPad or make a cup of coffee with a Kindle — basically, not everything is digital. With the costs of renting and owning property going down, but still being costly compared to running a business on the internet, shipping will be necessary, and we can only hope USPS dissolves into a private entity or is abolished entirely in the near future!
I just found this awesome blog post,
It may sound odd to talk about the United States Postal Service (USPS) as a “monopoly.” But that’s exactly what it is.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution affirms the ability of the government to “establish Post Offices.” And various laws give the USPS a “statutory monopoly” on non-urgent First Class Mail and the exclusive right to put mail in private mailboxes.
Translation: It’s illegal to deliver most types of mail, including letters, postcards, catalogs, magazines, and bills, if you’re not the USPS. That’s virtually everything any business would mail to customers or prospects. Yes, you can send something via an “urgent” service, such as FedEx, but the law stipulates that what you send must be urgent. Plus the law forces the delivery service to charge at least $3.00 or offer the service for free and place the thing you’re sending on your porch or somewhere other than in your mailbox.
There might be good arguments for such a powerful monopoly in the early days of the U.S., but what about now? Should the USPS continue to hold a monopoly on all “non-urgent” mail? Or should businesses be allowed to compete for whatever sort of delivery service they want to offer?
So, other services have to charge over $3.00 for their services, there you go!