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Why Digital Is Not a Threat to the USPS

May 23, 2017

Bob Dixon
Director, Product Technology Innovation
United States Postal Service

Technology and digital are not a threat to the United States Postal Service (USPS), according to Bob Dixon, director of product technology innovation. He spoke with eMarketer’s Jillian Ryan about how the USPS is bridging the divide between physical mail and digital touchpoints.

eMarketer: Your group is responsible for the USPS’ innovation. Tell me a bit about the work your team does.

Bob Dixon: We are responsible for working with both internal stakeholders and external customers and figuring out which digtal business needs they have that are not being met. We aim to get a technology solution that can be used to meet those needs. When there is not a technology solution already in-house, my team will go out and research—we’ll prototype new solutions in conjunction with our stakeholders and then evaluate whether or not that solution is viable. When it is viable, we turn it over to our IT organization for implementation. Where it’s not viable, we write the lessons learned to inform future innovations.

“Mail is still the marketing channel with the highest response rate.”

eMarketer: How does the USPS stay relevant in the digital age?

Dixon: Mail is still the marketing channel with the highest response rate. Without consumers receiving the mail, there is a $900 billion industry that ceases to exist. Some might say that postal has perceived digital as a threat to its core business. But our marketing team has acknowledged and embraced that digital does not have to be a competitor, but [instead] could be a complementary feature of our products.

eMarketer: How important is the customer experience?

Dixon: We have an emerging consumer who may not always be going to a mailbox. We need to figure out how do we make the mailbox more accessible in a medium that those consumers are already comfortable with. We have designed services to complement the physical mail with a digital message, and then be able to provide a digital response channel.

It really is about maintaining the relevance by opening up other channels. We need to build a bridge between physical and digital. And that is not just a one-way transformation. It’s not just bringing a digital component to the physical mail—it’s also bringing a physical component to digital.

“We need to figure out how do we make the mailbox more accessible in a medium that those consumers are already comfortable with.”

eMarketer: How has digital transformation impacted the organization at large?

Dixon: It starts with our current postmaster general, Megan Brennan. She has made a commitment to invest in innovation, and that message coming from the top of the organization has really helped us foster new things. But it is a large organization. There are more than 600,000 of us, and admittedly some parts of culture are ingrained.

My group is made up of folks who are very technology-savvy, but I have intentionally created space for some folks in our group w

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