Royal Mail needs to work on convenience for ecommerce shoppers

By Dan Wilson July 8, 2014 - 9:55 am

I missed a delivery on Friday. Nothing unusual there. A very significant number of first time deliveries don’t work out and it’s a great cost and concern to carriers.

It’s certainly at least one reason why so much time and effort is being is being directed at giving the recipient more control on how they get the goods by many in the indutry.

imageWhether it’s Click & Collect (which eBay itself is expanding with Argos for business sellers), dropshops and lockers, better info regarding tracking for buyers so they can be in or Saturday and Sunday deliveries… the new services we’re seeing are many. It’s quite astonishing the number of innovations we’ve been seeing in the last few months.

Delivery is making leaps and bounds forward and not before time. I think that the key for ecommerce sellers is going to be about giving buyers choice.

My missed delivery was by Royal Mail and it strikes me that they are not keeping pace with some of the other players when it comes to cashing in on the revolution in ecommerce delivery.

Firstly, they are wedded to the last mile. I really don’t see I can’t opt to have my Royal Mail parcels held at the depot when I know I shan’t be in. It would save them time and money and I could opt to come by at a time convenient to me.

And they have so many premises that lockers should also be a part of the mix. It makes much more sense than them coming by to deliver when I know I shan’t be in.

And then once a delivery has failed, the service they provide is far from 21st century. The picture above shows the times I can stop by to pick up my parcel at my local Royal Mail depot.

On only one day a week can I stop by after 2pm. That’s just crazy. Here’s hoping that privatisation will mean Royal Mail looks again at these rules to make collection more convenient.

They will find it to their competitive advantage.

  • JD
    4 years ago

    ‘ … And they have so many premises that lockers should also be a part of the mix. … ‘

    What premises are those then?

    • 4 years ago

      The same premises that you go to to collect your parcel perchance? The local delivery offices!

    • JD
      4 years ago

      How would a locker help? Lockers need to be in places that are open rather than closed.

      Perhaps the best place for a locker would be at your home?

  • peter stanley
    4 years ago

    JD Surely they could put some lockers in the Post Offices, I know technically they are separate companies but the Royal Mail vans are collecting from there various times during the day so why couldn’t they drop off parcels into lockers whilst there.
    At least the Post Offices are open until at least 6pm unlike the Sorting Offices, surely the Sorting Offices need to open later nowadays all it needs is one staff member manning the counter it won’t cost a fortune, they do it at Xmas why not all year round.

  • Cambridge_Blue
    4 years ago

    Royal Mail are still well behind the curve as ever and lacking any commercial imperative to change they just carry on as usual.
    That should be about to change as they are privatised at long last and investment can be directed at innovation opportunities and not subject to the ‘dead hand’ of Government.
    As yes given their real estate they should be able to offer the option of delivery or collection by the customer.

  • Toadlady
    4 years ago

    I think the options vary according to where you live. My local sorting office has 2 late nights, Weds 8pm & Friday 7pm. But, you have to wait 48 hours before you can collect (or arrange re-delivery) with is daft.
    You can arrange to have taken to a local PO for you to collect, but have to pay for that service.

  • James
    4 years ago

    I suffer the same 48 hours wait to get a re-delivery.

    Royal Mail frustrate me to no end.

    i) We suffer from poor international / local rates due to a subsidy provided to Chinese postal services (i.e how the Chinese are able to ship from China to UK at a rate cheaper than UK to UK). How this is still allowed to continue I do not know
    ii) USO although good in theory means that the shipping prices to most UK addresses are probably more expensive than they need to be – just so a few people in Scotland and rural areas don’t have to pay extra. This is bad for the majority of people to help the few
    iii) I go to my local sorting depot regularly and there are at least (and this is just at the front) 2-3 workers doing almost nothing everytime I go. I can imagine this is the case at most depots – which is a waste of labour and efficiency.
    iv) Customer services are beyond useless. Refunds department do everything they can to make life difficult. Even something as simple as trying to ascertain times for collections requires form filling and time wasting.

    RM have a lot of competition in the parcels market. This is good they needed a kick up the backside and a reason to modernise.

    The big problem is the letter/large letter market in which (save for TNT and DX who have a tiny share of the market) they have a substantial monopoly. There needs to be a way to change this as well as without competition RM will have no incentive to improve their frankly expensive and poor service in this segment.

    • admiralhardinge
      4 years ago

      Be careful what you wish for. I agree, the current situation with Chinese post costs is ridiculous, but that is more to do with unfair trading than it is with Royal Mail rates. If you compare RM rates for a small packet with almost every other western country you will find they are substantially lower.

      Yes, they need to do much more, and undoubtedly they will as a private company, but they are far from all bad. Delivery reliability is actually good. May be it is where I ship to, but I have not yet had a customer request delivery to a locker or collect location.

  • james
    4 years ago

    You’re lucky, if i miss an RM parcel my collection office is only open for like two hours a day, 3 days a week (not including public holdiays, RM staff birthdays, sporting events, or any day i might actually have off work).

  • tinker
    4 years ago

    our big gripe with royal mail is nothing undelivered is ever returned
    not every lost parcel can be buyer fraud?

  • Simon
    4 years ago

    >> not every lost parcel can be buyer fraud?

    Maybe they are…?

    We have very few reported incidents of items not turning up – less than 5 a year I’d guess. We also get 2-3 undelivered items returned each year (almost always not called for at the delivery office)

    • tinker
      4 years ago

      Buy a Lottery ticket
      your special

  • mw
    4 years ago

    We use a self-storage facility to take all our business and personal parcel deliveries. Simply instruct the supplier of the alternative delivery address and it gets sent there. It costs us £24 per month, but we have never missed a delivery by any courier and we don’t have to negotiate city centre traffic, run the gauntlet of traffic wardens, pay for car parking, etc. Using the self-storage it’s secuerly stored, signed for by the facility staff on receipt, not located in city centre, we can go and collect if anytime of the day and so on. No I don’t work for them. Just trying to help with an alternative solution.

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