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Postal Service revamps priority mail program

The Postal Service is targeting the lucrative business of shipping products purchased from online retailers.

David Goldman /Associated Press/File 2013

The Postal Service is targeting the lucrative business of shipping products purchased from online retailers.

WASHINGTON — The struggling Postal Service is revamping its priority mail program to raise revenue and drive growth in its package delivery business.

It is now offering free online tracking for priority mail, free insurance, and date-specific delivery.

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Postal officials expect the changes to generate more than $500 million in new annual revenue. The changes — including redesigned boxes and envelopes — are effective immediately.

The Postal Service is reeling from losses totaling $3.9 billion this year. The agency has been trying to restructure its retail, delivery, and processing operations, but says its financial woes will worsen without Congress’s help.

The priority mail changes will help the Postal Service compete with FedEx and UPS in the increasingly lucrative area of shipping products purchased from online retailers, said Nagisa Manabe, the service’s chief marketing officer.

Until now, priority mail has been a two- to three-day service. Now, customers will know a specific delivery date.

Demand from small businesses helped convince the agency to offer free insurance, $50 coverage for most priority mail, and $100 coverage for priority mail bulk shippers.

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