Parcel lockers might be the fashionable high-tech last-mile delivery solution, but postal operators all over the world are implementing a post office click-and-collect delivery option.
Establishing a network of click-and-collect post offices doesn't have the capital costs associated with installing automated parcel lockers. The post office network is already there. The parcel tracking system already exists.
Delivery direct to the post office has a number of advantages:
- No delivery attempt by a postal delivery officer
- Customer is in control of their deliveries
- Parcels can be ready for customer collection earlier, instead of waiting for an unsuccessful first-time delivery attempt
There are some pitfalls to be avoided:
- Need to keep overweight and oversize parcels out of the post office network
- Franchised post office owners need to be consulted and informed
- Other network operators may try to piggy-back the service, especially in areas they choose not to serve
Some examples from around the world
Canada Post offers FlexDelivery. Parcels are delivered directly to the post office and then held for up to 15 days.
Australia Post's equivalent service is called Parcel Collect. Parcels are held for 10 business days at no charge to the customer. The service is currently available at about 3500 post offices.
Customers are notified by SMS or email when their parcels are available for collection from the post office. A reminder notice is automatically sent for any parcels that aren't collected after one week.
New Zealand Post gives customers the option of redirecting parcels in-transit, at any time up until the parcel is given to the driver for delivery. Parcels can be redirected to post offices and selected supermarkets. Currently there is no "direct to post office" option.
Residents in Hong Kong can have their parcels delivered to a post office free of any additional charge. Customers must first register for a Mail Collection Number at the Hong Kong Post website, and then they can choose to have parcels delivered to one of over 120 post offices in Hong Kong. The parcel address label must include the customer's postal address, with the customer's Mail Collection Number printed directly underneath.
The rollout of Royal Mail's Local Collect in the UK has coincided with a major post office network transformation. More sub post offices are moving in with convenience stores and other host businesses, resulting in extended trading hours.
Extended trading hours means more convenience for customers collecting their parcels from the post office, and hopefully shorter parcel wait times.
Local Collect is available at 10,500 UK post offices, and over 4200 of those are open extended hours. Items are held at the post office for up to 18 days.
We could call post office click-and-collect solutions "Poste Restante for the 21st century", but it's more than that. These delivery solutions work with the post's existing track-and-trace systems and can be integrated into e-commerce websites, allowing for a seamless customer experience.
Posts don't have it all their own way. Parcel operators are teaming up with other retail networks to offer parcel collection services.
- Offering a range of delivery options is crucial for customer satisfaction. The customer experience is key!
- Integrate post office click-and-collect into shopping platforms.
- Post office click-and-collect is a delivery solution that can be implemented quickly and cheaper than parcel lockers.
- Parcel lockers and click-and-collect are not mutually exclusive - they complement each other.
- Opening hours and customer access to the post office. How many post offices are open extended hours and on weekends? Is there car parking nearby?
- Post offices must have adequate storage space to handle parcels awaiting collection.
More reading: E-commerce's second wave - the customer experience
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