The U.S. Postal Service introduced the Parcel Select product as a workshare initiative in 1999. The product offers rock bottom pricing for packages entered directly into the destination Postal Service delivery unit (DDU). For example, the postage for a 20-pound package is only $1.89 when a parcel consolidator is used.
Now Hiring! Consolidators Needed
This need for consolidator services to sort the packages into nationwide lanes before they leave the origin city and again sort them onto local delivery routes when they reach the destination city has created business opportunities for both regional consolidation companies and logistics providers offering three- to five-day ground deliveries. In addition to the national delivery options offered to small and midsized shippers, large shippers take advantage of their truckload volumes to line haul packages directly into destination consolidation facilities.
Customer Service Is Key
The key to providing successful consolidation services and a competitive delivery option for service-conscious shippers is to provide high-quality customer service at a lower price. Shippers must know where their packages are, when they will be delivered and what their total costs will be. A cooperative effort between the Postal Service and the consolidation companies is making this possible.
The Postal Service provides data to consolidators for each trackable event. In 2002, the Postal Service increased the number of trackable events between the consolidators and the recipients by adding an acceptance scan of the mailing into the destination Postal Service facilities and added functionality to display select consolidator events on its Web site. In 2003, the Postal Service is launching an eVS initiative, which will revolutionize the mail verification and acceptance process, making it easier than ever to get packages into the postal stream.
Technology Making It Happen
Software vendors like Abol have developed turnkey systems, providing entrepreneurs with shipping systems for customers, high-speed processing systems for both manual and automated sorting facilities and online tracking, invoicing and reporting services. Consolidators can now offer world-class Web sites, and these sites provide tracking events for each step � from the shipper printing the label and manifesting the packages, through each of the consolidator�s scan events and manifest to the Postal Service, to the en route and delivery events. Service level reports also offered through the Web site allow consolidation partners and shippers to monitor performance and streamline distribution channels throughout the delivery network.
The recent availability of low-cost shipping systems and online tracking, invoicing and reporting services are lowering the barriers to entry for startup regional consolidation companies and empowering them to provide a high-quality, least-cost offering to shippers with as few as 25 packages per day.
Leading the Way
The Postal Service and its sales representatives are encouraging shippers to consider Parcel Select. It has shown continued commitment to the Parcel Select initiative by rewarding shippers with increasingly competitive rates. In addition to the favorable rates, the 12� Delivery Confirmation fee was waived for Parcel Select program, ensuring proof of package delivery to both the shipper and consolidator.
For a complete guide to Parcel Select mailing, reference the Postal Service�s Domestic Mail Manual available online at A complete list of parcel consolidators in your area is now available on the Postal Service�s Web site at
Maik Goettel is chairman and president of Abol Software, a privately held Atlanta-based software services company. For more information, call 877-847-2265 or