The Postal Service now has approval for a pilot program to deliver groceries and packaged food, according to an Oct. 23 decision by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
The Postal Service had asked to test out a concept it called “customized delivery” in which the agency receives freezer bags filled with foods or other packaged goods from sellers and delivers them to people’s homes. The PRC approved the request.
“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,” the Postal Service wrote in its original proposal notice Sept. 23.
The Postal Service also noted that it sees a profitable growth area that could generate some needed revenue for the agency, more than $10 million but probably less than $50 million in any given year, although the commission said it was too early to tell how much money the Postal Service could make.
“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,” the agency wrote.
So how would it work? The Postal Service broke it down:
- The grocery company or retailer drops off chilled bags or packages at a designated location for the Postal Service to pick up.
- Using a QR code, employees generate customized delivery routes for each order.
- The Postal Service sorts the parcels and loads them onto a truck for delivery, scanning the parcels each step of the way to provide tracking information.
- Customers receive the deliveries between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Because of the early-morning hours, the driver will not try to get the occupants’ attention to verify delivery, according to the notice.
The Postal Service plans to start the testing on or shortly after Oct. 24, 2014, with testing planned to last two years.