Royal Mail is aiming to stem the flow of online retailers to rival operators by implementing a new system aimed at giving customers greater access to its parcels tracking service.
The so-called application programming interface (API) is available to all Royal Mail business account customers at no additional cost, and will enable them to track the progress of their consignments, check the status of an item and retrieve the tracking history of their shipment. It will also monitor usage and provide customised reports.
The launch is part of Royal Mail’s investment in new IT systems, the organisation said, as it aims to introduce new online shipping tools for a range of different customers. And, Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said that the new API will support the company against increasingly aggressive rivals.
With letters declining at about 8% a year, online parcel deliveries are proving to be a lifeline for the newly-privatised company. Parcels make up almost half of Royal Mail’s £9.15bn revenues.
A PwC report, commissioned on the eve of last year’s sell-off, predicted parcel volumes will rise from 1.7bn items to 2.3bn by 2023. However, in July Royal Mail said it was facing increasing challenges in the UK market, including competition from carriers “aggressively reducing prices”.
Parcels revenue fell 1% in the three months to June, and Royal Mail said revenue for the year could miss expectations. It is trying to address the issue by trialling Sunday deliveries.
Landon said: “The API provides the potential for improved parcels management as well as enabling e-retailers to connect to their systems to Royal Mail software much quicker than previously.”
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