USPS® International Shipping: Approximately $3 Billion in Revenue, 60 Million Shipments and Growing
Have you considered the powerful freight savings you can gain by adding the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS) to your multicarrier system to handle your international shipments?
Meet Frank Cebello of the USPS. With a 28-year career in international shipping, he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his role as Executive Director of Global Business Management for USPS. He joined USPS in 2007 to help the organization expand its international shipping business, after a 21-year career at DHL and earlier stint with TNT SkyPak. Today he brings all of his experience to the table to help U.S. shippers take advantage of the benefits of using USPS as an international carrier.
Why USPS? Read on to hear Frank’s comments.
Who does the USPS shipping team serve?
We serve companies of all sizes, from very small to medium-sized businesses doing one to five international shipments a day, to large global organizations shipping hundreds of shipments a day. Our niche tends to be focused on business to consumer (B-to-C) types of shipments. We’re seeing an increasing number of shippers add USPS to their multi-carrier shipping system so that they can automatically include our various rates and services in their carrier selection process.
Here in the U.S. we really dominate residential delivery because it is our mandate that we deliver six days a week to almost every home in the U.S. Our postal partners overseas have the same mantra. Companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL all have their own home delivery network but they also give a large chunk of business to us to deliver for them on the last mile because our network is set up specifically for that.
Just like we are situated in the U.S. to deliver to homes and businesses across the county, our foreign partners are situated similarly. While not all of them have 6-day service like we do, they still have what is called a “Universal Service Mandate” to deliver to addresses countrywide.
What is your group’s mission?
The Global Business group helps mailers expand their international reach through customized, flexible international shipping solutions – and increase the Postal Service’s annual share of the international shipping market at the same time.
Global Business is responsible for developing, marketing and selling high-quality international products and services to customers in the U.S. and globally, in order to increase profitable revenue for the Postal Service. Our group also manages relationships with over 191 international posts.
How has the U.S. Postal Service’s international shipping perspective changed over the past few years?
As you know, the USPS has undergone a dramatic shift from First-Class Mail to packages and we’re seeing the same shift on the international side.
Growing access to the Internet by more users around the world has caused an explosion in e-commerce shipping over the past couple of years, which has resulted in the growth in international shipping for USPS.
It’s interesting; many companies that launch an e-commerce site strictly consider themselves to be marketing and shipping within the U.S. Then all of sudden they’ll get a hit on their website from somebody in Asia or the UK or Australia. That’s where international comes onto the scene.
In the past some companies haven’t responded to those orders or they said, “We don’t ship internationally.” I think the proliferation of the Internet has almost forced the international issue. When you consider the fact that 95 percent of the buying population is outside the U.S., then it makes good business sense to go international.
The USPS has been very vocal about its investment in technology as the means to advance its services. Can you talk about how this applies to your international shipping operations?
As the e-commerce market has gotten exponentially more sophisticated, customers are demanding faster service, more visibility and tracking, and more delivery options for less cost. We also are seeing an increase in the request for the prepayment of duties and taxes.
We’ve been adding new services to meet our customers’ needs. We offer several levels of USPS international shipping services, based on the service you need and the price point that you are willing to pay. For example, our Global Express Guaranteed service, which is an alliance with FedEx, will get your package delivered overseas in one to three days. Our next-fastest service, and in my opinion, one of the best services that we offer, is our Priority Mail Express International (PMEI) service, formerly Express Mail International. This is a fully-tracked service that goes through the postal channel, gets specialized handling by the receiving post at the other end, and is very much on par with what our competitors offer outside of their express services. Customers can also take advantage of our Priority Mail International (PMI) and First-Class Package International services which offer great service at a great price.
When you mentioned about companies want to know more about calculating duties/taxes upfront, do you help automate that?
We have just launched a new enhancement to our Global Shipping Software (GSS) to allow small shippers to pre-calculate estimated duties and taxes for an item. So you can go into GSS or through the GSS API and harmonize a particular item and based on the destination estimate what the duties and taxes are. This first iteration is for smaller companies with a smaller product line, but we also plan to enhance it for larger companies.
Are certain regions of the world more “service friendly” than others for USPS?
To be honest with you, the world is our oyster. We see a large portion of e-commerce shipments going to the English-speaking countries. Canada, the UK and Australia are our top three international destinations in that sector. But Japan, Brazil, Russia and China are also big destinations for us.
All in all, our top 30 destination countries make up 85 percent of our international volume. That includes Western Europe, Mexico, Far East and Southeast Asia. We do a smaller amount of shipping into the Africa continent, but Western and Eastern Europe have been booming lately.
What advice do you have for companies that want to go after the international market?
We often hear customers say, “international is complicated.” It doesn’t have to be. There are several reasons the U.S. Postal Service is a great resource for anybody looking to do business internationally:
- No harmonization requirement. At this point, there is no requirement that you do harmonization. If a company does it, though, all the better – the more information that you have on our customs forms the better off you are. But it is not a requirement.
- Simple customs forms. Our customs forms are simpler to use than the commercial invoice that you’d have to prepare if you’re using one of our competitors. We have completely automated the process.
- We’re here to help. We can help you learn to navigate the ins and outs of international shipping with the USPS. Our Global Account Managers are here to help.
Thank you, Frank.