Commercial Mailboxes-USPS Approved Centralized Receptacles
Commercial Mailboxes Now and into the Future
One way the USPS plans to control costs on mail delivery as we move through the 21st century is requiring centralized mailboxes. Currently commercial mailboxes can be broken down to four basic categories of centralized receptacles. These category types are vertical mailboxes, horizontal mailboxes, 4C horizontal mailboxes, and cluster box units. Most of these categories have variations and extensions of the commercial mailbox within them, but this is how most industry professionals would categorize centralized receptacles. Below we will discuss the background of each of these commercial mailbox groupings, and conclude with the latest possible addition to the centralized delivery marketplace.
Vertical mailboxes are an indoor mailbox that is offered clusters of three to seven tenant mailboxes. There are still retrofit vertical mailboxes installed in the field, however retrofits have not been USPS approved for more than thirty years. Therefore, we will address only today’s USPS 4B+ compliant vertical receptacles. Vertical mailboxes are offered in recessed, semi-recessed, or surface mount styles. Vertical mailboxes typically can be found in smaller apartment buildings and offices where mail volume is low and security requirements are minimal.
Horizontal mailboxes are a type of commercial mailbox that most laymen would call post office boxes. Horizontal mailboxes are USPS Approved for replacement and remodeling installations only. Post office boxes are offered in recessed mounting style only. USPS approved horizontal mailboxes are generally offered by most commercial mailbox manufacturers in modules of three, four, or five doors wide and seven, six, and five door high door configurations. Private use horizontal mailboxes are offered in larger module to maximize space. Horizontal mailboxes are very flexible in terms or doors sizes and options. Horizontal mailboxes for U.S. Mail delivery are slowly being phase out as a commercial mailbox as a result of postal regulation USPS-STD-4C.
4C horizontal mailboxes came about as a result of USPS-4C postal regulation put forth by the USPS in 2006. Regulation STD-4C was enacted to mandate that all new construction wall installation mailboxes use 4C horizontal mailboxes. 4C mailboxes provided owners and the USPS with a commercial mailbox that had larger tenant doors to reflect the size of today’s mail, more parcel lockers built into configurations as a result of the package locker to tenant door ratio requirements and higher security to prevent identity theft. 4C mailboxes initially were offered in recessed mount only, however additional mounting methods have been introduced to surface, pedestal, and mail kiosks.
The cluster box unit is currently the only USPS Approved pedestal mailbox in the marketplace today. The F Series cluster box unit design is owned by the U.S. Postal Service and the USPS grants certifications to commercial mailbox manufacturers to make the units. Cluster box units are generally well received by the public and the Postal Service. One drawback of the cluster box unit that the public been requesting is more configuration flexibility. Currently, cluster boxes are offered in USPS endorsed and selected configurations with configuration modifications being prohibited by the Postal Service. Commercial mailbox manufacturers have responded to the marketplace demands for a more versatile pedestal mailbox with 4C pedestal mailbox. 4C pedestal mailboxes require local USPS approval if being used for U.S. Mail delivery whereas the cluster box units are automatically approved.
The latest hot topic in the commercial mailbox community is how to handle the increase of packages to tenants due to the explosion of ecommerce. Manufacturers and entrepreneurs are beginning to deploy package delivery boxes in convenience stores, at post offices, and in larger residential communities. As the ordering online continues to grow it should be interesting to see where the commercial mailbox marketplace goes.