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bldjp022005_191It is a partnership that provides a study in opposites. The U.S. Postal Service, with a legacy of hundreds of years of traditional service, often comes in for criticisms of its lack of innovation and money-losing ways. Amazon instead is the epitome of modern business: nimble, innovative, quick to respond, and highly profitable. Yet these two familiar brands are attempting a new collaboration that might change the way consumers and businesses interact and buy.

In a groundbreaking experiment, the Postal Service will deliver packages emblazoned Amazon’s smile logo to customers and businesses on Sundays, the first time it has assigned delivery drivers to work on that day. In the short-term, the experiment is limited to the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas, but plans already are in the works to expand the service to other major cities in the near future. Neither of the Postal Service’s main competitors, UPS and FedEx, offer Sunday delivery.

Most ideas presented to deal with the losses experienced by the U.S. Postal Service looked at ways to cut costs. A widespread, but ultimately highly unpopular, proposition was to halt Saturday deliveries of both packages and regular mail. Customers, both consumer and business, reacted very negatively, worried that losing a day in shipping timelines would mean losses in sales. This deal goes the opposite direction, in that it enhances the services provided rather than cutting them.

However, deliveries are limited to Amazon packages. Postal Service customers would not have the option of mailing out a bill or a birthday card on Sunday when the postal carrier arrives to drop off their order.

For Amazon, the deal also provides a competitive benefit: Buyers can plan on receiving items they order on every day of the week. The deal appears particularly appealing to Amazon’s Prime customers, who pay an annual fee to guarantee two-day delivery. For a shopper browsing Amazon on Friday, it means receiving all purchases within those two days, instead of having to discount Sunday and wait for Monday for the delivery.

Ron Nixon, “Postal Service to Make Sunday Deliveries for Amazon,” The New York Times, November 11, 2013