Written by Danny Howard
Edited by Sarah Mejia
November 17 is a very unique day for two major American companies. Amazon has teamed up with the United States Postal Service to deliver packages on Sundays in New York City and Los Angeles. What many could view as an experiment raises a number of significant issues for USPS (Bensinger). This business deal brings two aspects of society that just seem never to agree: the government and religion. Many people across the U.S. see Sunday as a day of rest and a break from everyday life to reconnect with their beliefs and values. There will undoubtedly be citizens who say there is association with an “independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States” impeding on their religious freedom (usps.com).
The economic state of the postal service is another topic of concern as physical communication, such as letters and cards, has dropped dramatically as use of 21st century technology such as email, texting and social media has increased. USPS has felt serious repercussions from these new outlets and management is trying to supplement for these major damages by delivering Amazon shipments on a day the postal service has never worked before. A seven-day work week is a drastic change for a company that has been around since 1775 (usps.com). They are expected to lose $6 billion in 2013, making this an even riskier move (Bensinger). No U.S. consumer is accustomed to checking their mailbox or front porch each Sunday, so why start now?
The Amazon-USPS deal also brings to question whom exactly is USPS management looking out for at this point. There will only be delivery in Los Angeles and New York City for now, leaving the rest country to wait until Monday for their shipments. They have plans to move on to other large cities such as Dallas and New Orleans, but USPS is still excluding major portions of the country (Bensinger). This does not seem fair. Is the firm, USPS, looking out solely for itself as agency theory suggests by doing this? “[W]hen valid options are available the manager will choose the option that is in the best interest of management, even when the option might not be in the best interest of the investors” (Brooks, Dunn). Money is in the best interest of management and they understand that, if the deal is to be successful, the big cities are their target market. From the outside, it appears the United States Postal Service is accommodating customers and providing benefits for others, but in reality many customers will be excluded as USPS seeks greater revenue.
Complications are bound to arise in such a monumental decision that could definitely impact Internet retail shopping. USPS and Amazon could have analyzed their deal and its repercussions further. To minimize some of the issues mentioned previously, the companies could have acted differently. The two companies could have clarified that it was only a trial period for Los Angeles and New York City to receive such treatment, potentially suppressing any controversy before it starts. Customers in Pittsburgh and Detroit would not feel entirely excluded, understanding that, if USPS is successful with this deal, the benefits would apply to them in the future. Instead of putting a lot of pressure on a deal to which they are committed, initiating a trial period would better mitigate potential damage if the deal were to flop. With this being said, the other possible hurdle that could be avoided is not implementing this service right before the most intense shopping period of the year—the holidays. A steadier or more predictable shopping season outside of the holidays allows for easier control over business if there is a major flaw. Also, it gives a more realistic projection for what Sunday delivery will do for business in the long run.
The United States Postal Service made a bold decision to team up with flourishing Amazon and pursue a market that had not been tested before by delivering on Sundays. Management can be called into question because their business is struggling and they seem to be putting a lot at stake by extending delivery to two cities at a crazy time of the year. They have already made commitments to other large cities in the near future so is USPS just looking out for immediate revenue or are they caring for all their customers across the country equally?
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Bensinger, Greg. “Amazon to Begin Sunday Deliveries, With Post Office’s Help.” Wall Street Journal. N.p., Web. 11 Nov. 2013.
Brooks, Leonard J., and Paul Dunn. Business & Professional Ethics for Directors, Executives, & Accountants. Mason, OH: South Western Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.
“USPS Significant Dates.” USPS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.