Flexible Deliveries Coming for Royal Mail Customers
Royal Mail has announced that it will spend £130 million over the next five years on handheld technology. The investment – part of the company’s extensive IT transformation programme – will support more flexible deliveries for customers together with better tracking capabilities.
Next-Generation Handheld Technology
The expansion of handheld technology is being carried out through a contract with BT Global Services, with the aim of supporting Royal Mail’s parcel delivery strategy. From next year, Royal Mail will start supplying its postmen and women with around 76,000 next-generation handheld devices, a rollout due to be completed by the 2016/7 financial year.
Royal Mail’s contract with BT includes the ongoing management of current and new Royal Mail devices together with an operating platform for a period of five years. Royal Mail’s mobile connectivity will be supplied by BT under a separate and existing contract. A further contract to supply software applications for the new devices is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks and will form part of the total £130 million investment.
More Delivery Options for Customer Convenience
The use of handheld devices should ensure greater flexibility and more delivery options for customers. For example, customers who are not at home when Royal Mail attempts to deliver a parcel will be able to inform the company of a safe location at which to leave the item. While Royal Mail’s plans for the new technology have not yet been finalised, a spokesman for the company said that information to be provided by customers – including contact details – would be given to their retailer when ordering items. This would help Royal Mail to level the playing field with rival courier firms who are able to text customers in advance of delivery to confirm they are home or to make alternative arrangements.
Once the delivery process is underway, customers will be able to exchange information with a central Royal Mail location. This information will then be relayed to individual postmen and women via their handheld devices. The devices are likely to have a phone capability and/or internet access, although this has not yet been confirmed by the company.
Royal Mail’s IT transformation programme also includes major improvements to management information and enhanced tracking for parcel customers. This is being done by adding information barcodes to shipping labels. In September, Royal Mail launched a new parcel shipping and tracking platform to help e-retailers improve integration between their own IT systems and the company’s software. This could allow customer delivery information to be shared more easily between retailers and Royal Mail’s delivery systems. The free Application Programming Interface (API) is available to all Royal Mail business account customers, allowing them to track the progress of consignments, check the track status of items and retrieve the tracking history of shipments.
Managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, Nick Landon, said: “We are delighted to announce our investment of around £130 million in IT which will better enable us to develop new services for parcels customers. This is part of our on-going programme to continue to respond to the needs of our customers and maintain our leading position in the UK parcels market.”