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Postal Service, Zonos seek to improve cross-border transactions

After taking heat from U.S. lawmakers during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on Tuesday, the country’s preeminent delivery agency is looking abroad.

A day after being grilled by Democrats for an electric delivery truck agreement it made with Oshkosh Defense, the U.S. Postal Service has tapped Utah-based Zonos, a technology company focused on cross-border commerce, as its latest contracted partner.

The Postal Service will leverage application programming interfaces from Zonos to automate the calculation of duty and tax quotes and the classification of HS codes, which are used by customs authorities to identify products and the duties and taxes associated with them. The integration will be applied to the Postal Service’s international shipments in order to provide foreign customers with more transparency around the total cost of imports.


Watch: How has USPS Connect been received?


“Hundreds of thousands of small and large companies ship internationally with USPS. We are grateful for the trust the Postal Service has put in Zonos’ cross-border enablement capabilities,” said Clint Reid, founder and CEO of Zonos. “We look forward to helping build and power USPS’ global technology solutions.”

Although the Postal Service is a U.S. government agency serving about 161 million addresses domestically, it also processes and delivers an astounding 46% of the world’s mail. That’s a lot of mail, and every piece of it is subject to different duties and taxes — which is where Zonos comes in.

Cross-border transactions, which are projected to account for 38% of all sales by 2023, are inherently complex. For any given international order, the consumer must take into account duties, taxes, import fees, shipping costs and more — all of which are calculated automatically by Zonos’ APIs, apps and plug-ins.

Businesses using the platform also have the ability to select one or more carriers they would like to work with, and they can even give the customer the option to choose one at checkout.


Read: Lawmakers grill Postal Service on Oshkosh truck purchase

Read: Surprise! 20% of Postal Service’s first vehicle order is electric


“Businesses can’t know all of a country’s laws,” Reid told TechCrunch this past September. “Our mission is to create trust in global trade. If you are transparent, you bring trust. This was traditionally thought to be a shipping problem, but it is really a technology problem.”

At the time, Zonos had just secured a $69 million series A round led by Silversmith Capital Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in software as a service and information technology. That was the first institutional funding Reid had received since he founded Zonos in 2009, and the company used it to accelerate product development and launch new offices in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

The agreement between the Postal Service and Zonos marks the agency’s first partnership with a SaaS company specializing in cross-border commerce, but it isn’t the first time Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has elected to work with a software company. 

The Postal Service has also partnered with Accenture to build out a new digital framework for data collection, in addition to agreements with Oracle, Calero Software and others. Zonos is smaller than all of those businesses, but nonetheless, it becomes the latest SaaS company to nab a contract with the agency.

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