With e-commerce players turning to click and collect as a more convenient and cost-effective alternative to home delivery, locker provider InPost is setting the pace
One of the most significant side effects of the e-commerce revolution has been the massive increase in home deliveries. Royal Mail and other postal services, as well as courier companies, have benefited as more and more consumers buy online.
However, for e-retailers and consumers alike, the home delivery experience has often been disappointing. In its report TMT Predictions 2015, Deloitte notes: “Delivery has been the key friction point in e-commerce for both retailers and consumers – the direct cost to retailers of failed first-time delivery is over £600 million per year in the UK alone.”
In a recent survey, IMRG found that almost 50 per cent of respondents’ households “will not or may not have someone at home during normal delivery hours”. Put bluntly, consumers hate waiting at home for a delivery and for e-commerce companies household deliveries, especially those involving a failed attempt, are often an expensive inconvenience, while returns are an even bigger headache for both parties.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that the last few years have seen the growth of click and collect with e-commerce companies delivering purchases to stores or lockers for customers to pick up whenever convenient. Deloitte observes: “As of Q4 2014, about 95 per cent of those online stated they planned to use click and collect for some of their Christmas shopping.” While according to the IMRG survey: “Click and collect is a now a recognised delivery option for 98 per cent of our respondents, with over 60 per cent having used it to receive an online order, either from the retailers own store or through a third-party parcel store or locker network.”
The automated locker system is particularly appealing for retailers that don’t have a bricks-and-mortar presence and for customers who don’t live near a store. According to IMRG, customers appreciate cost-savings (80 per cent), convenience as they combine a visit to a locker with a shopping trip (42 per cent) and, third, the ability to make a return easily. Self-service lockers have been increasingly common across Europe for over a decade, but now they’re expanding rapidly across the UK and United States.
Returns are a major challenge for retailers, who naturally want to make the process easy for customers, but have to manage costs carefully in what can be an expensive, complex logistical operation
One of the fastest growing and most exciting examples of this trend towards the use of lockers is InPost, an award-winning service whose customers include Virgin Wines.
“Our geographical reach and the number of lockers that we operate is one of the key attractions for our e-commerce customers,” says InPost’s sales and marketing director Tony Kells. “By the end of the year, we’ll have close to 1,400 sites across the UK. Consumers also like the fact that our lockers are in convenient, accessible locations with ample parking and they’re brightly lit as well as being covered by CCTV cameras. Our strategic expansion will continue throughout 2016.”
InPost’s fully automated and interactive lockers can be found at a variety of safe and secure locations, including at Morrisons supermarkets, petrol stations, train stations and Transport for London sites. They’re also outside retailers, such as Toys R Us, and at local shops across the UK. All of InPost’s 1,000 lockers are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. This means that customers don’t have to queue or wait at home. They can now collect and deliver items at a time and place that is convenient to them.
InPost lockers are good for logistics companies as they allow them to make fewer journeys than when they deliver directly to homes, while retailers also appreciate the convenience lockers offer. “We’re always looking for ways to give more choice to our customers and adding InPost’s network of physical pick-up points means they will have even better flexibility when they shop with us,” says Jay Wright, chief executive of Virgin Wines. “We’re all leading ever-busier lives, so ensuring an easy and efficient shopping and delivery experience when people buy wine online with us is incredibly important.”
InPost is part of Integer.pl Group, a global leader in the supply of automation for e-commerce and the owner of the world’s largest automated parcel machine network, already operating in five continents spanning Australia to Chile.
Mr Kells explains that InPost lockers solve many of the challenges currently faced by online retailers even before items are shipped.
“Our service is shown to reduce basket abandonment and we know that nearly three quarters of customers will return to an e-commerce store following a positive delivery experience and a hassle-free returns process,” he says. “Returns in particular are a major challenge for retailers, who naturally want to make the process easy for customers, but have to manage costs carefully in what can be an expensive, complex logistical operation. Our lockers make returning goods easier for both parties.”
He concludes: “We’re a young company here in the UK, but our experience in other countries and our rapid expansion already demonstrates that InPost lockers can meet the needs of e-commerce stores and consumers as they develop over the coming years.”
HOW IT WORKS
Customers can select InPost Parcel Lockers at the retailer’s checkout. They just choose the locker from a dropdown list or use the map widget to find the most convenient locker for them.
They know that they won’t miss their delivery as SMS and e-mail alerts are sent when the parcel arrives at the locker. They can then collect their item whenever they like, 24/7.
InPost also has a convenient returns option. Customers simply print the label from the retailer’s return page, attach it to the parcel and drop it off at the locker that’s most convenient to them. In addition, InPost provides a customer-to-customer (C2C) delivery service through its inpostdirect.co.uk site, ideal for marketplace sellers and individual senders.
Once the purchase arrives at the locker they’ve chosen, the recipient receives a text and e-mail confirmation with the unique access code.