Royal Mail to install 1,400 Parcel Postboxes across the UK

By Chris Dawson May 20, 2019 - 10:00 am

Royal Mail will install 1,400 parcel postboxes across the UK as of August this year, meaning businesses and consumers will be able to post parcels in the same way they post letters.

This is the result of trials in 2018 of 17 parcel postboxes which were situated in Northampton and 13 in Leicester. The aim is to enable small businesses and marketplace sellers to post pre-paid parcels in the same way that they currently post letters. The parcel postboxes will also allow customers to post some returns parcels back at any time, seven days a week… so long as they have a barcode label.

posting a parcel in Royal Mail parcel postboxesThis roll-out will be a first for the UK. The parcel postboxes are being introduced in locations across the country including Birmingham, Leeds, Aberdeen and Cardiff. Royal Mail will convert existing meter mail drop boxes, which have a wider aperture and secure design, making the posting of larger prepaid items both safe and convenient.

This is the first time parcel postboxes have been widely introduced in the UK, and the launch represents the first major change of use for the postbox since it was introduced 160 years ago. The launch of parcel postboxes is also one of the biggest innovations in parcels since the launch of Parcel Post in 1883.

“The wide scale introduction of parcel postboxes is one of the many ways we at Royal Mail are looking to make the lives of our customers easier. The parcel postboxes trial last year was a success, and we hope that the wider roll-out gives added flexibility to online sellers who might be running a business in their spare time and not keeping regular office hours.”
– Mark Street, Head of Campaigns, Royal Mail

1,400 parcel postboxes doesn’t sound like very many?

There are about 11,500 Post Offices spread across the country so 1,400 parcel postboxes sounds quite modest. However it’s actually a lot – Royal Mail have around 1,400 Delivery Offices so it’s basically one parcel postbox per delivery office on average.

If we look at competitors, InPost claim to have 1,100 parcel lockers in the UK (we’re not sure how many are actually installed) and so Royal Mail will have around a third more parcel postboxes than InPost have lockers.

Royal Mail Parcel Postboxes Intended Locations

Newcastle & Tyneside
London Central

What do we like about the prospect of Royal Mail Parcel Postboxes?

Overall this is a great move and one that’s hard to find anything not to like. Yes, you can drop of post at Royal Mail Delivery Offices and thousands of Post Offices around the country as well as having a daily collection if that’s easier for you. However there are a ton of small businesses who run their eBay and marketplace businesses as a part time enterprise. Not having to queue at a Post Office and being able to drop parcels off late at night or on the way to work early in the morning makes a lot of sense.

Other carriers do offer parcel shops with early and late opening hours, but very few are open for those who start work in the early hours of the morning but Parcel Postboxes won’t ever be closed so will cater to those who work odd hours.

The Parcel Postboxes may also be convenient for those with a daily collection but who have a last minute urgent order to get shipped. If your collection has gone but you can still drop a couple of parcels off on the way home you can offer later cut off times. This will of course depend on the collection times which haven’t yet been published.

Do Royal Mail Parcel Postboxes have any drawbacks?

Royal Mail parcel postboxes in situWhen you look at the size of Royal Mail Parcel Postboxes you’ll soon realise that these are for relatively small requirements. They’ll hold a fair few parcels, but they’ll soon fill up if a couple of eBayers pop a dozen shoebox parcels in and there will be nothing more frustrating then going to post your orders and discover that the parcel postbox is full.

If you do have large numbers of parcels to post on a regular basis then Parcel Postboxes may not be the solution for you. For the odd parcel that needs posting urgently then it looks like a great solution.

  • Peter King
    7 months ago

    Not a new design, or idea , its identical to this one:

    Been there at least 10 years.

  • jim
    7 months ago

    very handy if you need a convenient location for your IED

  • jim
    7 months ago

    wont work they are big red litter boxes at best
    they will fill up in no time if it becomes popular, you cant collect a parcel from them

  • David
    7 months ago

    They’re just re-purposing the franking boxes that no one uses, would hardly refer to it as innovative!

  • Chris
    7 months ago

    No good for me, I need proof of posting certs.

  • Bulent Bas
    7 months ago

    Easy return for buyers. Maybe a not good idea for retailers but surely it will make like easier for small sellers and most buyers need replacement/return etc.

  • Bulent Bas
    7 months ago

    Easy return for buyers. Maybe a not good idea for retailers but surely it will make life easier for small sellers and most buyers need replacement/return etc.

  • Jonah
    7 months ago

    With eBay now advertising free 30 day returns and “have the freedom to pick and choose” your purchases it’s going to make life much easier for the consumer but increasingly more difficult for the smaller online retailers.

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