Home| Postal News | Your Rights | PostalMall | Editorials |  Resources |  Links About  |  What's New  Sitemap | Search| Letters to Editor

USPS/NALC Memorandums on Route Inspections Labor Force Schedule Optimizer System

Postal kiosks serve up HR services USPS Human Capital Enterprise Agenda

USPS Corporate Flats Strategy FAQ USPS Corporate Flats Strategy Automated Package Processing System (APPS)

Automated Postal Centers Bringing Automation to Full Circle (pdf) Postal Automation Redirection System (PARS)

Reshaping  the Workforce  Repositioning the Workforce Changing Postal Workforce in the 21st Century

Distribution Technology in the Postal Service, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE by Thomas Day USPS engineering VP

Postal Automation Discussion

On this page

Self Service Platform a.k.a AUTOMATED POSTAL CENTERS (APCS)

USPS Mobile Retail Unit

Automated Postal Centers
By Bill Lewis


-Letter: USPS Outlines Plans for Stamp Vending Machines as APCs are Deployed- USPS plans for stamp vending machines "will have an impact on the staffing (SSPC Technicians, Level PS-6, and operator maintainers, generally Level PS-5 when performed by bargaining unit employees) needed to support vending in some districts. Maintenance craft activities may also be impacted." (7/27/04)


Automated Postal Centers- The Board of Governors approved funding to design and develop 2,500 self-service kiosks called Automated Postal Centers that will let customers buy stamps and postal products just as ATMs enable customers to conduct self-service banking. Evaluation of 30 units will begin in October. Nationwide deployment will begin in mid-winter and is expected to be completed by summer 2004.--USPS April 1, 2003

International Business Machines Corp. of Bethesda, MD awarded an $80.1 million contract from the Postal Service's Supplies and Services Purchasing Division for the Automated Postal Center Program December 1, 2003.


What can the APC do?

  • nAccept payment via debit/credit

  • Dispense First Class, Priority Mail, Parcel Post, Express Mail, Information Based Indicia (IBI) Postage any denomination

  • Dispense First Class stamp sheetlets

  • Provide Postal Service & mailing information, provide ZIP Code lookup

  • Weigh and rate envelopes, flats and parcels up to 70 pounds

  • Prepare Express Mail forms, Certified Mail return receipts, hold mail & Change of Address

  • Delivery Confirmation service

  • Generate receipt for payment

  • Click & Ship Label













(Excerpt from USPS Transformation Plan);

Move Simple Transactions Out of Post Offices

Stamp sales comprise the overwhelming majority of transactions conducted in Post Offices™. However, there are more convenient alternatives for selling stamps that save time for customers and avoid the costs associated with window transactions (e.g., vending machines, Stamps by Mail®, Stamps Online™, and Stamps on Consignment). Many customers are simply unaware that alternatives exist. Therefore, the Postal Service began actively promoting these alternatives, emphasizing that services are available where customers need them—at home, at work, where they shop, or at the Post Office.

In November 2002 the Postal Service launched a national campaign promoting alternative access to postal products and services to create customer awareness of stamp purchasing alternatives. This campaign included television and print ads, in addition to new logos and postal product signs that are displayed at 60,000 locations selling stamps, including over 16,000 ATMs.

Create New, Low-Cost Retail Alternatives

The Self Service Platform/Automated Postal Center (SSP/APC) is a next-generation self-service kiosk that enables customers to purchase postage and weigh and rate letters, flats, and parcels. The SSP/APC dispenses information based indicia (IBI) postage in any First-Class Mail, Priority Mail®, Parcel Post®, and Express Mail® denomination. It also dispenses First-Class Mail ATM stamp sheetlets; prints the Click-N-Ship™-style electronic label and Return Receipt; and provides Postal Service and mailing information, including ZIP Code lookup. The SSP/APC provides a touch-screen customer interface, an integrated scale for weighing and rating mailing items, and a debit/credit card swipe and pin pad. The SSP/APC does not accept or return cash. While the SSP/APC offers an alternative to full-service, it also replaces obsolete vending equipment.

The SSP was approved in March 2003, for the design, manufacture, and deployment of 2,500 units. Initial deployment for field evaluation will begin in mid-FY2004, and full deployment is scheduled for completion by the end of December FY2005.

To further customer access, the Postal Service is partnering with commercial retail outlets to sell postal products. An agreement with Hallmark was signed in September 2002 for the use of postage meters and the introduction of postal retail services at approximately 1,200 Hallmark Gold Crown stores to be completed by the end of FY2004. (emphasis added by postalreporter)

USPS Agrees to Cancel Hallmark Retail Program - The Postal Service has agreed to end a pilot program with Hallmark that permitted the card and gift store corporation to perform retail postal services - Letter from USPS canceling Hallmark initiative (9/10/04)

Optimize the Retail Network

This strategy entails determining when and how to modify the retail network so that a different design will result in equivalent or better retail services for customers, in addition to avoiding unnecessary future expenditures.

Recognizing that there are many postal transactions that will still require visiting a Post Office, the Postal Service will address the types and levels of retail services best suited to customer needs by optimizing its retail network. Through retail optimization the Postal Service will provide more access to underserved areas, often fast-growing suburbs, while consolidating underutilized retail offices.

To determine how best to provide access to retail services the Retail Network Optimization initiative is developing a consistent and systematic methodology to maximize retail access strategy, which will result in equal or better value for Postal Service customers, in addition to avoiding unnecessary future postal expenditures.

At the same time, in preparation for rationalizing the retail network, field training for closing Post Offices was completed in August 2002, and Phase One of closing currently suspended Post Offices was finalized in November 2002. Phase One involved 230 offices. Phase Two, involving the closing of 281 currently suspended post offices, will be finalized in mid-FY2004.

Develop New Retail Services that Increase Customer Value and Postal Service Revenue

While the Postal Service will rationalize its retail network and continue to provide more convenient, lower-cost access alternatives to customers, it will maintain a nationwide network of retail locations to provide full service for postal products.

To generate additional revenue, the Postal Service is developing new services that will be offered at some postal retail locations. One successful initiative is the alliance agreement with FedEx, which included the installation of some 5,000 FedEx drop boxes at postal retail locations as of August 2002.

In the near term the Postal Service also is expanding and enhancing services it already provides for government and commercial partners, such as acceptance of passport applications.

As work hours and labor force reductions** continue, USPS Vice President of Retail Henry Pankey updated the Board on the Automated Postal Center—getting their unanimous vote to proceed with placing 2,506 of the new units in the field in all 85 districts.

"This self service platform is aimed at providing our customer with more self-service," he noted. "The Postal Service will now offer state-of-the-art kiosks that provide 80 percent of the most common transactions—and will be able to do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and with the same convenience as an ATM."

The new postal center enables customers to weight and rate letters and packages, as well as does Express Mail, Priority, First Class and Parcel Post. Self-adhesive labels are generated and receipts are printed; use is by credit or debit cards only. The pilot testing was done in 16 locations including New York City, Washington, DC, and central Florida.

"Customers across the board have accepted the new centers," added Pankey. "The units meet mail security requirements as well."

The units will be placed from December 1, 2003 through July 2004, with an average of 500 installed per month. Real-time diagnostic service is also a component of the new units.

"We expect a return on investment of 30.4 percentage," said Pankey in closing.

source: National League of Postmasters 

**Link added by postalreporter April 1, 2003

Postal customers have long dealt with limited hours and long lines for even basic services such as purchasing stamps and mailing packages. To improve customer service, the US Postal Service introduced Automated Postal Centers or APC's that are located in Post Offices and even in retail locations. Postal customers can now have 24/7 access to basic postal services without waiting in lines, while allowing postal workers to concentrate on more complex transactions. The APC's are networked to the IBM retail point-of-sale back-end system for transaction handling and are remotely monitored by the US Postal Service for replenishing consumables, proactively dispatching maintenance and security. This approach to equipment service has dramatically reduced replenishment costs versus the traditional approach to scheduled service visits." IBM

USPS Mobile Retail Unit
This vehicle is a completely self contained two-man post office. These vehicles are used primarily in highly populated areas to supplement the existing post offices.
Features include:

2 Clerk Positions; Power Generator ; Air Conditioning and Heating ;All Aluminum ;Cabinet Work ;Parcel Pass Through ;Hydraulic Activated All ;Aluminum Canopies and Much More...