Crain’s Detroit Business: John Taylor on USPS delays affecting supply chains

Five months into the coronavirus pandemic and all of its sweeping changes on commerce, labor and the flow of goods, the U.S. Postal Service is the latest American institution that seems to be struggling with disruption. Now it's also become a lightning rod for President Donald Trump and his quest to quell mail-in voting in the November election. The USPS says it delivers roughly 181.9 million pieces of first-class mail each day but the fallout of COVID-19 and recent cost-cutting measures have crippled its ability to maintain the schedule businesses have relied on for 50 years as an independent agency. John Taylor, chair of the marketing and supply chain management department at Wayne State University, said logistics delays, like those at the USPS, challenges profitability and competitiveness for businesses that rely on their services. "Supply chains are built around having certain lead times," Taylor said. "When you introduce a lot of uncertainty into that system, businesses are not sure how much inventory they need to hold and reduces their flexibility to support customers and suppliers. This uncertainty is creating rigidity into the system. In a global competitive market, less-reliable transportation means you're less competitive. Businesses relying on USPS as part of their supply chain, maybe you need to shift to something else and that's more expensive."

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