World Post Day: How Postal Services Became The Bedrock of Modern-Day Last-Mile Deliveries

World post day

We’re living in the age of consumerism driven by convenience. Convenient shopping and high-speed deliveries are redefining logistics today. Everything is at our fingertips, and literally, anything can be delivered to our doorstep within days or even hours!

It’s all possible because of the power of technology and innovations in the last mile. But have you ever wondered how last-mile logistics came into existence in the first place?

Well, way before e-commerce, home services, direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling, or online shopping could be conceived, the good old postal services were making home deliveries happen and bringing smiles to millions of people through mails–setting up the most rudimentary and rustic, yet highly effective foundation for the last-mile deliveries that we see today.

This World Post Day, Locus is proud to honor the original pioneers of last-mile excellence!

Postal Services: A Brief History

Did you know? The history of postal services dates back to the 6th Century BC. The first well-documented postal service was that of Rome. The service was called “cursus publicus” and allowed mail to be delivered in light carriages pulled by fast horses.

Later, in 1775, the United States Postal System (USPS) was established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. And this pretty much led to the establishment of post offices and organized mail services across the world.

Postal services have laid the true foundation for all the essential elements of last-mile fulfillment.

  • Postal codes, Zip codes, or Pin codes developed decades ago by postal departments are the earliest legitimate geocodes and address verifiers used even today for last-mile deliveries.
  • In the 1800s, postal officials began using selected post offices as distribution centers, where mail for large areas was processed and sent on. This “hub-and-spoke” system is in use again today for faster fulfillment in urban areas.
  • Sorting mails and routing them in the right direction that was done manually in post offices is now taken over by technology in the last mile.

In fact, during the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos used to ship deliveries by post. While the rest is history, today’s unprecedented scale of last-mile fulfillment is possible because of the foundation the postal services have built around geocoding, address validation, parcel sortation, shipping, duty allocation, proof of delivery, and a lot more.

The end of the road?

Postal services have now become a place of nostalgia for a lot of us. Thanks to emails, instant messengers, and real-time communication, sending mail over the post is no longer a thing. Similarly, due to easily accessible and faster courier services, people are now reluctant to use postal parcel services too.

The postal sector around the world is also one of the most overburdened and underfunded establishments and therefore has been quite slow at embracing technology to optimize operations. These factors impact the efficiency of postal services, as the old ways of mail delivery, route planning, parcel sorting, and delivery tracking are no longer relevant in today’s fast-paced world.

A ray of hope

While it’s true that postal services struggle to stay profitable amidst a plethora of express delivery services and real-time applications, the postal department still continues to be a significant revenue generator for countries across the globe.

Each day the postal service picks up, processes, and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity for so many households and businesses.

  • The US Postal Service (USPS) processed and delivered an average of 425.3M mail pieces daily in 2021.
  • The department sends 3.3 million pounds of international, military, and diplomatic mail and packages weekly, using 70 international airlines, composed of 11 US flag carriers and 19 foreign flag carriers and their affiliates.
  • International Mail is a $2.2 billion business for the Postal Service.

This is a large industry with an immensely strong foundation with a major scope for improvement. In fact, the services of the USPS, given its extensive network, continues to be used by e-commerce companies for last-mile fulfillment. So much so that one analyst firm estimated that the USPS will handle 45% of Amazon’s shipments by 2023.

There is also the fact that the end-customer is now firmly at the center of supply chains, pulling a vast range of goods and services to their doorstep. According to estimates, e-commerce revenues in the US are estimated to grow to $968 billion by 2022 and $1.5 in 2025, up from $862 billion in 2021. Clearly there is a need to scale up capacity and innovation to meet this explosion in demand last-mile fulfillment.

Technology solution providers like Locus have been at the forefront of this evolution. Its real-world ready dispatch management platform comes with end-to-end solutions for last-mile optimization. Right from capturing and assigning orders to empowering drivers to do more in a single shift with optimal routes, and even bringing real-time visibility across the fulfillment cycle, Locus is ever-ready to deliver the growth and excellence needed in last-mile fulfillment today.

To know more about how you can reimagine last-mile fulfillment with the help of technology solutions, click here for a demo.