Stamping Out Inefficiencies
The U.S. Postal Service's retail efforts are delivering the goods.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) Stamp Fulfillment Service (SFS) reports great success with its efforts to upgrade its stamp fulfillment service into a competitive, fast-growing business.
Learn how a team of experts at the SFS decided to take advantage of existing application-programming interfaces (APIs) to simplify the process of incorporating Oracle modules and maintaining a consistent user interface.
The SFS program also focused on upgrading and changing existing applications, databases, and best practices for automation and fulfillment. SFS achieved positive results incorporating homegrown applications with Oracle Applications—including Oracle General Ledger, Warehouse Management, and Inventory Optimization. Ultimately, the SFS now has the speed and automation to compete with the best e-retailers. It can process up to 14,000 orders per day compared to the 2,500 it processed before the reengineering.
Khalid Hussain is happy to share the story of how an enormous government agency became a fast-growing business, prepared to compete with some of the world's most respected retailers. As manager of the Stamp Fulfillment Services (SFS) division at the Kansas City, Missouri, branch of the United States Postal Service (USPS), Hussain helped bring IT-powered business processes to the 250-year-old agency—with an upgrade budget of US$35 million and a recently overhauled SFS program to show for it.
Pick a Pack of Problems
The USPS is accessible to the public via 1.800.STAMP.24 or the Web-based storefront at www.usps.com, as well as through old-fashioned mail service. Customers—frequently stamp collectors, or philatelists—can call, shop online, or send their postage orders directly to the USPS for processing. As a service program, stamp sales seems an easy win for the USPS. Yet prior to implementing its automated fulfillment system, the agency had 2.5 million customer records in its database and an outreach program that focused on mailing out quarterly catalogs. Over time, as customer orders streamed in, the backlog became staggering. "Our response time to fill orders was four to six weeks," says Dave Failor, executive director, USPS Stamp Services, a division that includes stamp design, production, distribution, and fulfillment. "Our computer system was not running in real time, which created inaccuracies in stock allocations." The customer service desk was also struggling. "If a customer asked questions, the operator would have to access a variety of different information sources to find answers," he says. "Stock shortages were a frequent occurrence because the inventory was also not presented in real time."