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Royal Mail parcel pick up service a ‘game changer’ for ecommerce as it masters returns

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Royal Mail has launched a 72p parcel pick up service from people’s homes in a bid to compete with the parcel delivery market and has done as much for ecommerce as Amazon’s next day delivery did back in the day, experts suggest.

Royal Mail is under growing pressure to increase profits and faces a highly competitive delivery market. Capitalising on the swing to ecommerce, the move sees it looking to not only deliver more parcels, but also to become even more integral to ecommerce shipping, allowing for much easier returns – a bold but much needed move, which does move it ahead of the competition.

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, explains: “Royal Mail Parcel Collect is a fantastic step forward for all of our customers. It makes it easier to use our services than ever before. Whether you’re up against time and working from home, making a return, selling online or sending a gift to make someone’s day, Royal Mail Parcel Collect is here to help. The launch of Parcel Collect is part of our commitment to continuously make our services better and more convenient.”

Claire Roebuck-Sacks, Parcel Collect customer from Bristol, says of the service: “I used Royal Mail’s Parcel Collect during the initial roll-out of the service in Bristol. The service was really easy to use, and it was a convenient way to send a gift to my aunt, particularly as I have a new baby so time is precious. I will be using Parcel Collect again in the future to send parcels in the post.” spokesperson Nick Shaw comments: “The pandemic has seen an increase in the number of people online shopping. Our data reveals that 65% of us will be shopping online even more frequently next year, with more than two thirds of Brits (67%) planning to ditch visiting physical shops altogether. In light of these trends, Royal Mail’s new “parcel collect” service is a game changer for ecommerce akin to Amazon’s introduction of same-next day delivery.”

He continues: “It’s an incredibly timely move that offers a higher level of convenience, especially around returns, that hasn’t been available before but is sorely needed for stay-at-home customers that don’t wish to venture out to the high street to send letters or return parcels. Ecommerce innovation is increasingly happening after the buy button, and this move may encourage more retailers, through Royal Mail, to provide a truly end-to-to end shopping experience that meets the challenges of these testing times.”

Rupert Cross, chief digital officer at 5874 Commerce agrees: “Royal Mail’s decision to launch a 72p parcel pickup service from people’s homes will help increase access to essential online shopping for those stuck at home during new lockdowns. The physical nature of the returns process is off-putting for many and is a particular issue for those who are shielding.”

Cross adds: “In a recent survey we found that 63% of respondents fear an increased focus on online shopping risks alienating older users or those less comfortable with technology. While companies such as Yodel and Hermes have had ’cornershop drop off’ services for a while, Royal Mail’s pick-up service means those most at risk won’t need to leave the house at all. This is in line with the finding that half of those surveyed said that local delivery services are essential to safeguarding shoppers less able to use the internet.  Royal Mail is leading the way, but retailers must also make sure they’re taking into account the needs of vulnerable shoppers’ when implementing an eCommerce strategy.”

Levelling the playing field?

The move by Royal Mail may well level the playing field for retailers in the ’new normal’ and empower smaller retailers to compete more effectively with the larger eCommerce businesses such as Amazon or ASOS. 

Nigel Naylor-Smith, Head of Retail and Hospitality, Fujitsu UK, explains why: “The launch of the Royal Mail’s parcel pick-up service could be a game changer for smaller retailers. With shoppers now in search of Covid-friendly alternatives to buying and returning their goods, Royal Mail is levelling the playing field between smaller retailers and the eCommerce behemoths by offering a blanket, “zero physical contact” return service for all.”

Naylor-Smith concludes: “For years now, the strong performances of Amazon and ASOS have hinged on their tried and tested eCommerce and delivery models. While other retailers struggled to adapt during lockdown, Amazon and Asos were able to cash in on the new surge in online shopping thanks to their speedy delivery and return options. But that was then, and this is now – and for 72p per parcel, six days a week, consumers could well be flocking to a service that gives them more choice over where they spend in the first place. While there’s sure to be logistical teething problems to begin with, the customer experience could inch it when it comes to what shoppers’ value most; and for retailers that prioritised the customer experience during lockdown, 2021 could be a year to cash in their chips.”

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