There's been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of the U.S. Postal Service eliminating Saturday mail delivery service, and a lot of discussion about what this will mean for Netflix and its subscribers. After all, the U.S. Postal Service is a big part of Netflix's business model, delivering movies to people who want to watch them over the weekend. According to The Big Money, Netflix will spend $600 million of its dollars on the postal service deliveries in 2010.
Obviously, there are plenty of people who think that no delivery on Saturdays is no big deal.WalletPop contributor Jennie Phipps wrote in February, "Who cares if the Post Office ends Saturday delivery? Short answer: No one."
Well, actually I don't believe that to be the truth. No disrespect to Jennie, but there are plenty of other businesses beyond Netflix as well as individuals who are going to take a hit. Here's a list of the businesses and people who I think will miss Saturday mail deliveries the most:
Online businesses beyond Netflix: Hundreds of online businesses send out packages to their customers on Saturdays. Without Saturday delivery, customers who order products on a Friday night will now have to wait until Monday morning at the earliest until their package is shipped out. Granted, the same customer could choose to pay extra and have their order shipped via FedEx, but in this economy, many won't want to spend the extra money. That's where things could prove detrimental to businesses. Because customers who shop online over the weekend who know they can't get their product shipped out quickly may hold off on making the purchase--or scrap it altogether. Or they could drive out to a store where they can get their hands on it more quickly.
Saturday delivery is a valuable tool in the entrepreneur's arsenal. While getting rid of Saturday deliveries won't destroy a business, it could take a bite out of sales. Of course, it should be pointed out that the while delivery service is slated to be eliminated, the post office will remain open. Depending how this shakes out, if delivery service is eliminated (and that hasn't been decided yet), entrepreneurs might be able to drive to the post office and send out their packages from there. That may or may not be feasible, of course, depending on how many packages we're talking about. Whatever happens, if Saturday mail goes, it's going to be inconvenient for some businesspeople.
"Yes, our business will suffer if the postal service kills Saturday delivery," said Inga Vascenkova, the brand manager at ItsHot.com, which specializes in diamond watches and jewelry. "While we mostly use FedEx to ship out domestic orders, quite a few customers request their orders will be shipped by USPS. If we can't guarantee Saturday delivery by postal service, we'll have some unhappy customers, no doubt. Because of this inconvenience, we'll have no other choice but to switch to FedEx 100% for all our shipments, and USPS will lose our business."
Keith West-Harrison, an Albuquerque-based spa consultant who has a business specializing in sustainable beauty products (and whom I know from writing about him in quite a few AOL Small Business articles years ago), dropped me a line through Twitter, saying, "We rely on Saturday service to get our shipments out for our wholesale business. We would be in trouble without it."
People without Internet access: Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who don't have access to the web and online bill payments. Yes, there are still people who mail bills on Saturday, timing it so that the utility or credit company receive their money by Monday.Of course, they can send bills out on Friday instead, but some people are working so hard during the week, consumed with work and family, that they don't get around to paying their bills until the weekend.
The elderly and disabled: If you depend on disability payments or a Social Security check, then you may have to wait a few extra days to receive it. That could make for a long weekend if you're stretched for cash.
Representative Jo Ann Emerson, who represents the Eighth Congressional District in Southern Missouri, wrote a thoughtful blog post on PostalEmployeeNetwork.com, saying that "elderly and disabled residents in these rural counties rely on the Postal Service to come to them, because they often cannot go to the Post Office."
Magazines and newspapers: Monthly magazines won't be affected, but weekly magazines that arrive in the mail on Saturday, allowing readers to leisurely pore through them over the weekend, may have to adjust their editorial calendars so they can get their publication to readers earlier in the week.
In rural areas, newspapers are delivered via the U.S. Post Office. "Many of these are papers of record," wrote Rep. Emerson, "and many more daily papers would lose advertising revenue by being forced to drop one issue per week."
As if newspapers and magazines didn't have enough trouble already.
Catalogs: Like magazines, catalogs are probably best thumbed through over the weekend than on a busy, harried work day. For any that are timed to arrive on Saturday, some publishers might be rethinking that.
Freelance contract workers: Yes, as a freelance writer, I have some experience in this area, but obviously there are freelancers far beyond the writing world. There are freelance artists, photographers, builders, architects, web designers, business consultants--you name it--and many of them get their paychecks delivered through the postal service.
A little over a year ago, I wrote a post for WalletPop, griping about the possibility that the postal service might eliminate at least one day during the week. I wasn't thrilled by the idea back then. While I'm sure I'll adjust, the absence of Saturday delivery will be felt.
Geoff Williams is a frequent contributor to WalletPop. He is also the co-author of the new book Living Well with Bad Credit.
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