HV Kingsley: Behind the scenes in a CollectPlus store
We all know what happens when we despatch parcels… a courier turns up and collects them and unless there’s a delivery exception we pretty much forget about them. I went to see what happens at the other end of the logistics experience when a customer has a return or a casual eBay seller has a parcel to send and needs a local parcel shop. I visited HV Kingsley, about as typical a privately owned newsagents as you can get.
HV Kingsley is a CollectPlus store which has been awarded ‘Store of the Quarter’ in the brand’s awards programme. CollectPlus offer a service where you can collect parcels, or despatch them at local shops.
HV Kingsley is located near Moorgate in London, and the owner, David Poluck (pictured above) kindly agreed to show us around.
David has worked at HV Kingsley for 30 years and started working there at just 18 years old. 20 years ago it was his father’s shop and he fell into running it and then became the owner. HV Kingsley is open from 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday – the weekends are dead in the city.
When you walk in it’s a relatively small shop, but stacked with everything from drinks and snacks to magazines, ice creams, cigarettes – everything you’d expect from a traditional newsagents. David tells me that you have to move with the times though, so along came the lottery and he signed up. Then Oyster cards, phone top ups, parking and PayPoint were added. When he was offered a CollectPlus account he didn’t even think about it and just said yes.
Originally agreeing to become a CollectPlus location before Christmas, the company sensibly suggested he wait until February to go live so that he could become accustomed to the service without having to learn at the busiest time of the year. From day one it was off with customers dropping off parcels.
CollectPlus customers at HV Kingsley
CollectPlus brings in customers that previously weren’t aware that the shop was there. It’s situated at 5 Paul St, London, between Old Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate so is well sited, but this is London and people are always in a rush to get to and from work. When you have a parcel to send you look for the nearest location and that’s where David wins.
It’s a small shop, but David has a store room out back, a basement and a flat above the shop. The larger parcels are stacked in a corner of the store room and there’s a sack filling up with mail bags waiting for the courier to collect. Some shops he says turn away larger parcels, but for him nothing is a problem – If CollectPlus will take it, he’ll find room to store it until the courier collects.
Yes the Post Office has more locations (11,000+) then CollectPlus (6,000+), but it’s convenience that counts. HV Kingsley is simply closer, more convenient for many city workers and there are always at least two members of staff available so there’s never a long queue. David has even added a second PDQ machine so that he can dedicate one to CollectPlus when it’s busy.
Customers bring anything from John Lewis, ASOS and Misguided returns. There are also quite a lot of eBay sales which go through the shop judging by the labels David sees. In the short time we were in the shop a couple of customers came in with parcels to drop off. At quiet times of year perhaps 60 or 70 parcels a day pass through, but at Christmas that jumps to over 100 a day.
Most of the business is drop offs, perhaps about 1 in 8 parcels are collections so, at least in this shop, CollectPlus is being used by retailers as a returns service rather than a convenient click and collect option.
It’s hard to emphasise until you see a customer in the shop, but the biggest relief is simply that they can just send their parcel. It really is about convenience and service, sending anything is a hassle and David at HV Kingsley makes it easy and that’s what customers appreciate the most, especially at 8am, the busiest time of day as they’re rushing to get to work or at lunchtime when they have limited time to spare.
The benefits of becoming a CollectPlus outlet
David is pretty frank that his is not the cheapest shop around, for instance you could get your sandwich and lunchtime snacks cheaper in Tesco and equally there are often cheaper ways to send a parcel than CollectPlus. What he offers in convenience of being close to the city workers and speed of service and sometimes that’s more important than price alone.
It’s interesting to see the plethora of delivery operations popping up but David tells me that it’s a happy marriage between his newsagents and CollectPlus. He doesn’t believe a location could be profitable just serving the parcel market pointing out that many of the lottery kiosks that popped up are gone – the cost of staff and premises for a single service outlet are simply too great.
What works for David is that he can offer a range services like the lottery, parking, phone top tops, gas and electric, and now CollectPlus which all add to his normal business. And while customers are in his shop they’ll often pick up a drink, chewing gum, a lottery ticket or a magazine while they wait.
Should you become a CollectPlus shop?
I asked David for his advice if another shop keeper was considering offering CollectPlus and he said “Don’t think about it, you can’t lose. There’s no outlay, you’re not spending any money and you’re bringing customers into your shop“.
Of course if you don’t own a shop but have a parcel to send, have a look for your local CollectPlus store and if you’re in London, pop in to say hello to David.