Royal Mail is aiming to further exploit the online shopping boom by getting posties to pick up parcels from customers’ homes in what it claims is “one of the biggest changes to the daily delivery since the launch of the post box in 1852”.
Just two weeks after launching a marketing campaign for its Click & Drop online postage scheme, which enables businesses and consumers to pay online and print off labels, Royal Mail will start collecting parcels and mail from people’s homes.
Rivals DPD, Hermes and DHL already offer such a service, but Royal Mail’s Parcel Collect, which has been trialled in parts of the West of England, will be available every day except Sunday, and there will be 72p charge per parcel, plus postage costs.
The move is unlikely to be too popular with the Post Office, however, which is already struggling due to the fact that many of its key services – including taxing a car, collecting a pension and even buying stamps can be done online.
Even so, customers will have to make sure their postage is paid for, print their own labels and then pay for the service online before local posties can collect parcels from customers’ front doors – or designated safe spaces – as part of their daily rounds.
The service can be ordered from five days in advance, up to midnight the day before collection.
The online shopping boom is bringing much needed cheer to Royal Mail. In its most recent trading update, the postal operator reported that it had delivered 177 million more parcels in the five months to August 30, up 34% year on year, with revenues up 33%.
This did partially offset a decline in letter volumes, which were down by 1.1 billion, with revenues down 21.5%. Total revenues rose by £139m.
However, historically Royal Mail has underinvested in its parcel services, and only launched automated parcel sorting in 2017, according to Hargreaves Lansdown equity analyst Nicholas Hyett.
Hyett told the BBC that the new service would see a massive increase in its capacity, which would require a “significant amount of investment” and a “high degree of planning and organisation”; issues the postal operator has struggled with in the past.
In an a statement, Royal Mail said: “Parcel Collect means postmen and postwomen will now be able to collect parcels as well as deliver them on their daily round. It is one of the biggest changes to the daily delivery since the launch of the postbox in 1852.”
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