USPS set to trial experimental e-commerce product
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is planning to test a new “experimental” product that aims to facilitate cross-border e-commerce. In a notice filed with the US Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Wednesday (16 March), USPS said that the new Global eCommerce Marketplace (GeM) Merchant product “represents the Postal Service’s eCommerce solution to remove the uncertainty and complexity risks facing US online merchants and their international consumers”.
The USPS filing explained how the product would work: “Under GeM Merchant, overseas buyers will purchase items from an e-commerce merchant website within the United States that may be integrated with software designed to calculate destination country duties and taxes.
“At time of purchase, the buyer would be able to prepay the estimated duties and taxes that will be assessed by the foreign country’s customs agency once the shipment arrives in the foreign destination.
“The customer will then receive the order and prepare the item for domestic shipment to the GeM processing facility.
“Once the item arrives at the processing facility, the Postal Service, or its supplier, will inspect the item for verification and security.
“The Postal Service, or its supplier, will then prepare the item for international shipment to the address of the overseas buyer and arrange for delivery to the addressee.”
USPS is proposing to run a market test, during which GeM Merchant will be offered to a limited number of US merchants through negotiated service agreements (NSAs).
The market test will “assess the revenue potential, the competitive price points, and if and how the solution should be further expanded”.
The plan is to start the two-year market test on 30 April.
USPS maintained that the product “is likely to contribute to the financial stability of the Postal Service, by generating more international package mailings that do not currently move within the postal system”.
Importantly, USPS claimed that there is “no inappropriate market disruption”.
“There is no reasonable expectation that the Postal Service’s GeM Merchant offering would create an ‘unfair or otherwise inappropriate’ competitive advantage for the Postal Service or any mailer, with regard to any other party (including small businesses),” state the USPS filing.
“The service offering is designed to improve the international experience for merchants and recipients, and thereby generate more international package deliveries that do not currently exist within the postal system. At present, there are at least four companies offering similar end-to-end services.”