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Fighting porch piracy: Royal Mail latest to add safe place delivery preferences

Royal Mail|Royal Mail

Royal Mail customers can now set up a safe place delivery preference in the Royal Mail app for all future parcel deliveries, with the postal giant becoming the latest to put a focus on failed deliveries.

The UK postal giant stressed the safe place needs to be secure, weatherproof, easily accessible and out of sight. Any parcel that doesn’t require a signature can be left in a safe place.

There are five default options to choose from including enclosed porch, greenhouse, shed, garage or outbuilding. Customers can also use the free text ‘other’ option.

Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “Because they deliver to every house in the UK so frequently, no-one knows better where their customers like parcels to be left if they are not in than a postie. Now we’re making that delivery service even better by giving everyone the ability to record their favourite safe place on the Royal Mail app.

“We’ll use that preference for every subsequent delivery to give you even more control. It won’t stop there though. We are working on additional options to make deliveries even more convenient, such as a preferred neighbouring address and additional options for customers with accessibility needs.”

Sorry we missed you
While this move by Royal Mail can be seen as an act of customer service, it comes at a time where an increasing number of parcels are going missing. A recent survey found 73% of consumers believe that more parcels are going missing during the cost-of-living crisis.

Cost pressures, a return to the office and delivery disruption caused by strike action have all been cited for an increase in missing parcels. In June, a Metapack report recorded a 59% jump in the number of claims for missing parcels compared with the previous 12 months.

While, in-flight emails can keep consumers informed with the parcels progress many carriers are introducing photographic evidence of delivery – whether to a person or “safe place”.

Parcelforce Worldwide has made its Photo on Delivery feature available for all domestic services. Royal Mail also added proof of delivery photos to a growing number of products, in a bid to provide peace of mind for customers.

AI-powered solutions
Some carriers are deploying more advanced technology to ensure safe delivery. In the UK, Evri has developed Parcel Vision, a AI-powered software trained on thousands of safe place photos to be able to identify issues with the photo.

The software will detect any issues, such as if the parcel is not clearly visible, too close to the lens or the camera lens covered. It alerts the courier explaining the problem and asks them to retake the photo. It may be this combination between technology and courier that improves proof of delivery.

While in the US, the shipping insurance division of UPS has introduced a new predictive analytics solution that enables merchants to assess the level of delivery risk associated with addresses across the states.

Powered by AI and machine learning algorithms, DeliveryDefense generates a delivery confidence score. This score indicates the level of uncertainty associated with each address, allowing merchants to gauge the likelihood of a successful delivery.

If the address has a low score, retailers can then recommend an in-store collection or UPS pick-up point before the dispatch label is even printed.

Whether it is a safe place option, photographic evidence or advanced algorithms, carriers are working to ensure consumers know where their parcel is.

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