Posts can move forward and grow by following a 3 part strategy: 1) Develop a Universal Service Offering (promise to its people) along with revenue targets and a five-year growth plan; 2) Expand the post office network through low-cost mgcrofranchises to achieve economies of scale; and 3) Dramatically expand the non-postal products and services offered to its citizens.

Post Office, Nyasiongo, Kenya

Where mail volume is very low, the post office in an emerging market can’t just mimic Posts in industrialized markets. It must chart its own course. It must initiate new products and services if it wants to stay relevant to its people.

Post Offices in emerging markets are at a critical crossroad. Often, their countries face deficiencies in basic infrastructure such as roads and sufficient supply of electricity. For years these Posts have been challenged by low investment and lack of sustained international support. They often lack a postal vision for their future, have an insufficient postal network and face insolvency. They have very low, domestic postal volume and rely heavily on international mail.

In many cases, these Posts require very high levels of government subsidies, taking scarce resources away from infrastructure and social programs. Posts must pay their own way.

Yet, of the world’s 50 poorest countries listed by the United Nations, FedEx and other premium mail carriers operate in 36 of them. The opportunities are there for those Posts that are willing to reach out.

As the famous president of the USA John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life and those who look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

A Strategy for Posts in Emerging Markets

Earn New Relevance: The goal of any organization must be to be viable, sustainable and profitable. It is important to define the Post’s Universal Service Offering (USO), the promise to its people, as well as have attainable quarterly and annual targets and a five-year growth plan.

The Post can have a new role as the country’s “connecting infrastructure”, delivering their government’s developmental policies, that are traditionally outside of their core postal business, in order to give people access to the relevant services they want, need and are willing to pay for.

Expand the Network: Post office networks are typically too small, keeping costs high and inhibiting economies of scale. Posts in emerging markets must grow their networks quickly through microfranchising.

Posts in emerging markets can use the scaled-down and adapted, franchising principles of branding and standardization to ensure quality and replication. The establishment of microfranchised post offices, in villages of a reasonable size, can expand postal networks to quickly to reach a critical mass, achieve economies of scale and sustainability. Opening many more low-cost post offices in small businesses will give the Post visibility and relevance.

Posts can expand their network at a fraction of the cost. Operating costs of a corporate post offices are 50%-60% of sales and the cost to operate a franchise post office is 15%to 20%.

Extend Products & Services: The Post must look at the country’s challenges and find the opportunities. Offer new retail products and services that people need, want and are willing to pay for. Provide agency services on behalf of other organizations (Government Departments, banks or money transfer institutions, NGOs, utilities and telecoms); sell FedEx and UPS products and sell products on behalf of NGO’s and retailers (solar lanterns and radios, water purifiers, reading glasses, health products, mosquito nets, etc.). Provide online buying and pick-up at the post office. Promote e-commerce by advertising key products.

An Example of a Potential Strategy

A potential, more-detailed postal strategy could have 9 aspects:

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