Royal Mail is rolling out 1400 parcel postboxes, which it says will make sending parcels as easy as posting letters.
Parcel postboxes are hardly earth-shattering. For example, many of Australia Post’s 15,000 street posting boxes can accept parcels.
Customers will be able to lodge pre-paid parcels - including parcels with labels generated by Click & Drop, Royal Mail’s online labelling system - in the new parcel postboxes.
The rollout of the parcel postbox network follows the trial of 30 parcel postboxes in Northampton and Leicester between August and November 2018.
The first phase of a wider-scale parcel postbox roll-out later this year will involve converting pre-existing meter boxes (postboxes for franked mail, which have an aperture similar to the parcel postbox). Following the launch, Royal Mail will assess the prospect of adapting and updating pre-existing letterboxes to the parcel postbox format.
Expanded lodgement hours
The next challenge for Royal Mail will be to expand the parcel lodgement hours for parcel postboxes. The decline in letter volumes may allow for later mail clearance times while still meeting delivery standards.
As demand for next-day e-commerce delivery grows, even small online retailers will seek later collection times.
If mail clearance times can be delayed further into the evening, small e-commerce retailers will be able to offer later order cut-off times for next-day and 48H deliveries.
Then there’s the issue of tracking. Parcels lodged in a postbox won’t receive a lodgement scan. Instead, the retailer is relying on the post performing acceptance scans at the mail centre.
Track-and-trace is a key part of e-commerce delivery. It’s a customer expectation. We’ve seen Posti and PostNL experiment with smart postboxes… so who will be first to come up with a cost-effective smart postbox that integrates acceptance scanning for parcels?
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