The Postal Act of 2006 was the biggest change to postal operations in three decades. And the Postal Service is about to leverage its new flexibility under the law to aggressively go after a bigger share of the domestic and international shipping market.

Postmaster General Jack Potter recently announced internally a series of new initiatives designed to boost Express Mail, Priority Mail, ground services and international products. In May, new prices will be in place to enable the Postal Service to better compete in the marketplace.

USPSs overnight product, Express Mail, and its two- and three-day product, Priority Mail, are now both under a new Expedited Mail group.

For the first time ever, the Postal Service will be offering price incentives. Add this to the benefits of the products, and it is really something attractive for customers. The products will be priced to win more customers.

The first-ever price incentives give the Postal Services overnight and two-day products competitive advantage, especially for lighter-weight packages.

Customers that send Express Mail packages through Click-N-Ship or other online channels will get three percent off. Customers will also get price incentives based on volume; those who ship as few as two packages per day, on average, will be eligible for rebates. Those sending 15 packages a day will get a 10% price break. For Priority Mail, price reductions up to 11% are possible through a combination of online and volume discounts.

Under the old system, in nearby delivery zones where most overnight products are sent Express Mails flat rate was more expensive than the competition. As of May 12, thats fixed. The result? For packages under five pounds, Express Mail will be less expensive than the competition in every zone in the US.

This new pricing structure, combined with other enhancements to service, means that the Postal Service will be better able to seize market share. Telling customers about the products built-in benefits will help, as well.

Many customers are unaware of all the extras Express Mail offers.  Making customers aware of these benefits is something we need to do.  For example, the Postal Service is the only shipper that delivers on Sundays and holidays. And Express Mail comes with a money-back guarantee, free tracking and automatic insurance.

USPS also doesnt have hidden surcharges, an increasingly important concern in an era in which fuel surcharges are changing the way businesses manage their shipping. The other guys charge for things like fuel, residential delivery or pickup but the USPS doesnt.

Express Mail and Priority Mail customers also get free, eco-friendly packaging, which can be customized for larger groups. Also, our deliveries are secure because the Postal Service has the use of mailboxes, which are protected by federal law and, in many cases, locked. With other shippers, customers who arent home when a package is delivered often have to travel to an out-of-the-way office to get their packages. Thats not true with postal customers, who can request delivery for the following day or pick up their packages at the nearby local Post Office.

As for the perception that USPS isnt as reliable as the competition? Not true.  On-time reliability is on par with the other carriers.

The network of cities in which the USPS guarantees overnight delivery has been expanded to include nearly 2,000 additional locations, so customers can now reach many more locations than before.  And look for this to improve even more in the coming year.

Enhancements to the expedited product line, combined with new prices and price incentives for everyone from retail customers to big shippers, means that the Postal Services offerings should be attractive to the marketplace.

The USPS already has outstanding service its every bit as good as the competition and its making it even better by expanding its overnight reach. Nobody but the USPS delivers seven days a week. And now its priced to sell.

Gary Reblin now heads up the Expedited Mail group for the Postal Service. A 15-year postal veteran, he most recently led the Intelligent Mail Planning and Standards Department.