Royal Mail’s ‘Click and Collect’: What You Need to Know

12 September 2014

Royal Mail has announced the rolling out of its ‘click and collect’ Post Office service to 20,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). The move is part of the company’s extensive plans to secure its leading position in the UK parcel industry. With ‘click and collect’, small businesses can give their customers the option of collecting their parcels directly from any of Royal Mail’s 10,500 post office branches.

Rise of E-Retail

While an increase in the use of email has led to a decline in revenue from letters for Royal Mail, a recent rise in online retail shopping has led to a jump in the parcel revenues enjoyed by the company. British shoppers are expected to spend more than £100 billion online this year, a huge sum which helps to explain why parcel revenues now accounts for more than half of Royal Mail’s total business.

However, recently privatised Royal Mail is not the only company interested in the growing e-retail sector. Competition is increasingly fierce with a glut of smaller delivery companies battling to undercut the company. Meanwhile, Royal Mail has also struggled against competition from online retailer Amazon, which recently changed its minimum free delivery requirements and plans to develop its own parcel distribution system.

Amazon is currently Royal Mail’s biggest customer, accounting for 6% of the firm’s total parcel volume with around 60 million items a year. However, the e-retail giant recently launched a fleet of its own delivery vans and aims to set up a nationwide collection system by installing special collection lockers at UK train stations. The company already offers a CollectPlus service, which allows customers to collect packages from a range of different locations.

Royal Mail’s New Parcels Services

Royal Mail has put its parcels service centre-stage as part of ambitious growth plans announced at the time of privatisation. Since then the company has instituted a range of new services to boost its parcels delivery performance in terms of speed, efficiency and customer ease. In May, Royal Mail announced that it would begin to make Sunday deliveries of parcels within the M25, as well as open select delivery offices on Sundays. The company is also aiming to extend post office opening hours nationwide.

In addition, Royal Mail also recently announced a new Shipping and Tracking application programming interface (API), allowing e-retailers to connect simply and efficiently with Royal Mail shipping services, including international shipping. Thanks to the new API system, online retailers and other Royal Mail business customers can now track the progress of consignments, retrieve the tracking history of items sent and customise their shipping reports with ease.

Together with new Sunday deliveries and improved shipping and tracking capabilities, ‘click and collect’ offers more choice and convenience for Royal Mail customers. Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said:

“By teaming up with Post Office to offer the UK’s largest click and collect service, Royal Mail is enabling shoppers to have greater control over the delivery of their items. Home shoppers already trust us more than any other national parcels carrier to deliver their online orders.”

Although home delivery is still the norm for most UK shoppers, ‘click and collect’ is becoming more and more popular as a delivery channel. Rather than sitting at home to wait for a delivery slot, many customers would prefer to save time by collecting items from a nearby site when it’s convenient for them. According to retail information specialists Verdict, ‘click and collect’ deliveries are estimated to top 80 million this year, a jump of 17% over 2013. At the same time, the worth of this fast-growing sector is predicted to more than double from £3bn last year to £6.5 billion in 2018.



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