Royal Mail is to make its Local Collect ‘click and collect’ service with Post Offices available to its 20,000 SME contract customers. This will enable many of the UK’s leading small and medium size online businesses to offer shoppers the option of collection from any of 10,500 Post Office branches.
In the UK, Royal Mail’s parcel business is particularly focused on the consumer, micro SME and SME market segments.
The lingerie, swimwear, nightwear and men’s underwear online specialist Figleaves.com currently offers its customers the convenience of collection from a Post Office at no extra charge. Post Office branches are claimed to be ideal locations to provide convenient, secure parcel collection facilities across the UK. 99% of the population lives within three miles of a Post Office branch.
Providing more options for shoppers to receive online orders
As part of its investment in new IT systems, Royal Mail reports it has developed its Local Collect application programme interface (API) and upgraded its despatch management tool for SME retailers. The API allows retailers direct access to the details of all Post Offices, before labelling and shipping the parcel through the Royal Mail parcel despatch management tool they use. It also enables online retailers to integrate the service in to their website and checkout processes for shoppers to select a Post Office convenient to them.
The service is available on Royal Mail Tracked and Special Delivery Guaranteed enabling parcels to be tracked through to delivery at the recipient’s chosen Post Office. On delivery to the nominated Post Office branch, parcels are scanned as delivered, triggering an SMS/email confirmation to the customer.
Click and collect in the UK
While home delivery is still preferred by most customers, click and collect and third party collection points are growing fast as a delivery channel in the UK. In 2013, around 70m deliveries were made through click and collect and third party collection points. This year, it is forecast that 82m deliveries will be made through click and collect and third party collection points, a 17% increase (source: Verdict, July 2014 ). The value of the click and collect and third party collection points channels set to grow by 112% from £3.0bn in 2013 to £6.5bn in 2018, 16.2% each year on a compound annual growth rate (source: Verdict, July 2014).
Through Local Collect, the Post Office claims it provides the UK’s largest click and collect network and recent independent research has found that 46% of online shoppers are more likely to use an online retailer if they deliver direct to a Post Office branch. (Source: Delivery Matters, especially at Christmas, 2014 report, Hall & Partners)
Local Collect is part of an ongoing programme by Royal Mail Group to improve flexibility and provide more options for people to receive items they have ordered online. Royal Mail Group’s express parcels business, Parcelforce Worldwide, started to deliver seven days a week at the end of June when it launched Sunday deliveries. Separately, Royal Mail will pilot Sunday afternoon opening at around 100 delivery offices across the UK from September. This is designed to make it easier for shoppers not at home during the day to get their parcels. At the same time, Royal Mail will pilot Sunday deliveries to addresses within the M25 motorway.
Post Offices open for longer and on Sundays
Post Office reports it is transforming its network and remains the number one access point for mail services. More than 5,000 of its branches offer access to items ordered through click and collect outside the usual Post Office opening hours. With thousands of branches making it easier for shoppers to collect their shopping on Sundays, and from early in the morning until late in the evening the Post Office is now offering an extra 150,000 opening hours for customers of the Local Collect service.
Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: “Royal Mail is a key partner for online retailers like Figleaves and we are well placed to benefit from the growth in e-retailing. By teaming up with Post Office to offer the UK’s largest click and collect service, Royal Mail is enabling shoppers to have greater control over the delivery of their items. Home shoppers already trust us more than any other national parcels carrier to deliver their online orders. Royal Mail is developing services and investing in IT solutions to meet the changing demands of online retailers and their customers.”
Will Longmuir, head of operations Figleaves.com, said: “We have been using the Local Collect service for a number of years now and its popularity with our customers has grown year on year. With Post Offices now opening on more days, and for longer hours, this additional flexibility not only addresses the increasing demand from our customers for convenient delivery solutions but also drives loyalty and in turn repeat sales.’’
Paul Brown, head of commercial development Post Office, said: “The Post Office offers the largest and most convenient network for posting, collecting and returning parcels, and we’re changing to make it easier for customers to access our services. Thousands of our branches are now able to offer collection services on Sundays and from early morning until late at night, offering an extra 150,000 opening hours to customers using the Local Collect service. We’re delighted that even more SMEs can now take advantage of this service.”