Business of postal agencies: letters and parcels are not worth it

As of 04/07/2022 7:57 a.m.

Deutsche Post branches are almost gone. Customers should give up their packages and letters at kiosks, fashion stores or cannabis stores. It is not profitable for the store owners.

There are still three official post offices in Germany: in Bonn, at Deutsche Post AG, in Berlin at the Bundestag and at the Zugspitze. They are a relic of the past, as everything else has been handled in the store system since 1995: clothing stores, stationery stores, and even legal hemp products stores.

But is it really worth selling stamps or accepting packages for store operators? “It says in the postal agreements that you must and should expect that you cannot make money with the mail service. You should be prepared for this, ”says Udo Böer of the Association of German Postal Agencies (PAGD). He should know: Böer ran a postal shop himself and now represents independent retailers.

Hope to be sold by more customers in the store

There are 25,500 postal agencies in Germany. One of them is at Kriftel in Vordertaunus. Twelve years ago, the brothers Sudir and Sumik Anand opened their fashion store. She was running tight until the post office moved in. And it was good not only for the 11,000 inhabitants.

“Good for us too,” sums up Sudir Anand. “Swiss Post was an absolute breakthrough in the game for us. In practice, we gained a much higher frequency in the industry, which also allowed us to increase our sales enormously. ”

What he means by that becomes clear this Monday morning. This is not a classic shopping time. But if you go in through your inbox, you have to go out through the fashion store. Mail customers quickly stop at the clothes hanger and quickly purchase the latest summer dress. In her case, the idea of ​​reviving her core business has proved successful.

Corporate policy of Deutsche Post

It is not it is obvious the Anand brothers know. “You will not earn money from the post office itself. Not at all, says Sudir Anand.

Deutsche Post AG’s regional communications department makes no secret of this. Not earning money is part of the company’s policy: “Collaboration brings our retail partners an increase in frequency and sales, because in addition to customers for core business, additional customer potential can be developed.”

What the buyers get

Depending on the service, the Swiss post office settles what the chain of stores receives in the form of money. For example, in the case of stamps, the postal agency receives five percent of the value. Registered mail costs 40 cents. The post office also pays when the package passes the counter, regardless of size. And if you have a Postbank cash register, you earn EUR 1.00 for depositing or withdrawing. Low margins won’t change much if Swiss Post raises parcel prices next month.

Contracts leave little room for maneuver

Retailers who sell stamps and erasers, parcels and disposable lighters “live on the verge of existence,” says Udo Böer of the Postal Agencies Association. His association estimates that every third agency is on the brink of collapse.

The problem lies in the contractual specifications of the postal service – and they leave little room for maneuver. Operators run the risk of theft, errors at checkout and even robbery.

These three examples from the contract that Hessian radio present. Sample competition – there it is written in paragraph 14:

In individual cases, DP may run its own stationary points of sale and have stationary points of sale operated by third parties. The partner does not have a specific sales area or customer group assigned to it.

It’s good for postal customers – but it doesn’t pay off for self-employed merchants, especially in smaller towns.

Take an example from postage stamp vending machines: postal clerks are responsible for keeping the machines working. Paragraph 5 of the contract further states:

The partner cleans the stamping machine.

As for the opening hours, paragraph 5 reads:

The partner will run the branch on every working day of the calendar year, which is not a statutory holiday. The daily opening hours of the branch correspond to the hours of its basic activity.

It is up to the individual entrepreneur how he manages the personnel costs. Even if he goes on vacation at all. Böer sees it more than critically. In the communications department of Deutsche Post AG it sounds like this:

While the average weekly opening hours of post offices in 1990 were around 18 hours, Deutsche Post sales outlets are now open to postal customers an average of 55 hours per week.

subsidy from the city

Especially in rural areas, things often end up tragically for small postal shops. For example, in Laubach in central Hesse, the motto last year was goodbye. Then the city became a savior in need – and now it has to subsidize the operation. “You can’t profit from your postage service, and you can’t get back staff costs or rent,” says Mayor Matthias Meyer.

The city adds a good 18,000 euros a year. After all, Deutsche Post is responsible for setting up the store. Laubach still makes some money renting shelves for € 50 a month to direct marketers.

Postbank is closing locations

Meanwhile, the post office is looking for new buyers to take over the postal shop: for branches that also have a Postbank branch. Postbank has long been part of Deutsche Bank. And over the next two years, they want to close 200 Postbank branches across the country. If the door is tight, Deutsche Post’s services will also be lost.

Böer sums it up bitterly: “A fool will be found.” Also because many had no idea about commercial matters and until the end believed that you can earn money from the post office as an additional business.

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