Amazon teams up with Post Office
If you order something via Amazon but don't want to stay at home waiting for the delivery, you can now have it delivered to a local Post Office where you collect it at a more suitable time.
The move towards online purchasing has certainly been a boost for the delivery service companies but always there is the problem that many people are at work during the day and often depend on the goodwill of neighbours to collect parcels. Many companies now offer deliveries on a specific day, but it adds to the delivery cost, and a guaranteed Saturday morning delivery can double the delivery charge. Small retailers with ambitions to provide an online shop often underestimate the costs of delivery or the hassles it can create for customers.
Royal Mail already offers the "Local Collect" service. If they attempt to deliver a package and you are out, they leave a card with a number to call to resolve the problem. You can either request a redelivery, or give them an alternate delivery address in the same postcode area, or have it delivered to a post office of your choice which offers the Local Collect service. For the last option, you need to show ID at the post office to collect the item, and also pay a 75p fee to the post office for the collect service.
There are some 10,500 Post Offices around the UK which already take part in the Royal Mail Local Collect service and now Amazon has struck a deal with them to offer this service as part of the Amazon checkout. The option will be free for Amazon Prime customers who pay a subscription of £79 per year. Other Amazon customers can use collect service provided they have chosen the First Class Delivery option. This deal is good news for the Post Office, not only because it brings in new revenue, but because it will also raise public awareness of the availability of its Local Connect service. Its good news too for the Royal Mail parcel delivery service which has faced stiff competition since it was privatised in 2013.
Will it work for the customer though? Many post offices are closed evenings, Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday, so not much of an alternative for someone who is working normal office hours. Shops which have an in-store post office may be more flexible about offering weekend and evening collection. The post offices will need to be flexible to compete with Collect Plus, a service which is also used by Amazon and other online retailers. With a network of 5,500 participating stores, which includes Asda, Costcutter, Spar, and a number of small independents, you can take your parcel to one of the participating stores and have it delivered to another store in the network for collection by the recipient.
Another delivery alternative which Amazon has pursued is the Amazon Locker. Your delivery goes to a locker station of your choice and you are sent a security code to unlock the draw containing your delivery. You need to collect your delivery within three days. These big yellow lockers can now be found in around 300 locations across the UK, including universities, shopping centres, and in some Co-op supermarkets, who all receive some income from Amazon for hosting the units. These lockers have proved successful, and during the summer, Amazon has worked with Transport for London to install lockers in the car parks of two tube stations, Finchley Central and Newbury Park, to allow commuters to collect deliveries on their way home from work. That's another great option for consumers, but at the same time it may prevent other smaller retailers and independents from competing and give Amazon even more stranglehold over the online retailing market.
26th November 2014
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