Royal Mail is to make its click & collect service with Post Offices available to its 20,000 small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) contract customers.

By opening up its Local Collect service, online businesses across the UK will be able to offer shoppers the option of collecting orders from any of 10,500 Post Office branches nationwide. The online lingerie retailer Figleaves.com is one company that already gives its customers the option of collecting packages from a Post Office, at no extra charge.

Royal Mail has invested in new IT systems, updating its Local Collect application programme interface (API) and its despatch management tool for SME retailers. The API allows retailers direct access to the details of all Post Offices, before labelling and shipping the parcel through the Royal Mail parcel despatch management tool they use.

It also enables online retailers to integrate the service into their website and checkout processes for shoppers to select a Post Office convenient to them. Consumers can choose the service with Royal Mail Tracked and Special Delivery Guaranteed options, giving consumers the ability to monitor the progress of their orders.

On delivery to the nominated Post Office branch, parcels are scanned as delivered, which then triggers an SMS or email confirmation to the customer.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said his company was "well placed" to benefit from the continued growth in online retailing.

"By teaming up with Post Office to offer the UK's largest click & collect service, Royal Mail is enabling shoppers to have greater control over the delivery of their items," he explained.

"Home shoppers already trust us more than any other national parcels carrier to deliver their online orders. Royal Mail is developing services and investing in IT solutions to meet the changing demands of online retailers and their customers."

Click & collect purchases in the UK are expected to grow by more than two-thirds and be worth over £4 billion in 2018, according to recent research from Verdict Retail. 

The report indicated that clothing & footwear has the highest penetration of click & collect, with 23.5% of total online shoppers and 46.5% of total click & collect users having used the service in this particular sector. 

Commenting on the study, Matthew Rubin, electricals and entertainment analyst at Verdict, said: "Of the ten retailers with the highest click & collect penetration, all offered the service for free, with seven offering collection within one day of ordering and six giving the service prominence on their website’s front page.

"This is in contrast to the ten with the lowest click & collect penetration: all but three took longer than a day to get the goods ready for collection, only three advertised the service on their front page, and two charged for delivery."

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Royal Mail Parcels

Verdict Retail