Retail is changing – fast. Today, consumers no longer have the time or desire to shop in-store, turning to eCommerce. People were already starting to prefer digital-first options before COVID-19, but the pandemic forced this trend to skyrocket. Shopping online was convenient and protected people from face-to-face interaction.
Although the shift to eCommerce, potentially translates to more delivery business for Posts, it also adds pressure. Consumers want quick deliveries. At the same time, consumers expect to be able to return what they don’t want or need, driving parcel volumes through the roof. Pitney Bowes estimates that 3,248 parcels are shipped globally every second, up from 2,760 parcels in 2018.
To keep up with changing consumer behavior, Posts are embracing this eCommerce boom and retail transformation and finding ways to distinguish themselves from the competition. In this article, we examine several opportunities for Posts to get and stay ahead.
UK logistics specialist, Whistl, found that 45% of shoppers change their mind about making a purchase because they are dissatisfied with the delivery options available. Posts are therefore looking for ways to meet customers’ needs with more streamlined delivery processes to keep these customers happy. Track and trace capabilities like route optimization can speed up deliveries by avoiding accidents or traffic and grouping deliveries by their weight, size, and drop-off location. Real-time parcel traceability and delivery redirect are also great features which add flexible delivery options for customers.
In addition, Posts might consider implementing pick-up drop-off (PUDO) locations to allow customers to retrieve packages at petrol stations, grocery stores, or pharmacies while running errands. Some companies have also started to co-op with companies in their region, sharing fleets and other transportation assets to deliver packages faster and more cost-effectively.
Consumers want to know where their package is throughout the delivery journey. They also want proof of postage, verification of delivery, and the option to reschedule their delivery time slot if they are not going to be home. Transparency is a win for everyone—Posts, consumers, and retailers. When customers get insight into the delivery process, they feel more comfortable making a purchase and are far less likely to bombard Post and retailer support lines. Making delivery information available to consumers is possible with modern platforms that show parcel status in a portal that customers can access on their desktop or mobile phone.
Partnering with retailers can instantly expand a Post’s retail network, providing consumers with more convenient ways to interact with Posts. For instance, PUDO gives customers access to postal goods and services through third-party outlets, agent networks, or franchisees that they already frequent in their daily routines. When these retailers can conduct postal transactions using much of their own infrastructure, systems, and buildings, Posts have little to zero upkeep or maintenance requirements. The best part is that PUDO has proven to grow Posts’ profit by up to 12% and reduce delivery costs by up to 15%.
Setting up on-demand post offices is another way to meet customers where they are. Post Office on Demand empowers Posts to set up mobile post offices in just one day. This “pop-up”-style solution comes with all the hardware, POS software, service, and support needed to convert any retail location into a post office through the convenience of a subscription model. Posts might consider this option if they find a high amount of delivery traffic to a location where customers would prefer to pick up their own packages on their way home from school or work.
Normally, people think of Posts as a way to distribute clothes, office supplies, and many other physical products. But there are new, emerging areas that can help Posts diversify their lines of business. For example, meal subscription services are becoming more and more popular and need ways to transport their food to customers in a timely fashion. Posts can offer sensors or special packaging to keep food fresh. In fact, HelloFresh has recently invested in their own fleet of vehicles with cooling features in Germany and Austria. Smart technology has an added benefit of being a datapoint customers can track in their delivery portal.
Other applications might include pharmaceuticals, temperature-sensitive lab materials, spirits, or any other perishable item. Beyond keeping goods safe, Posts might also leverage delivery as an opportunity to upsell a customer. Working with retailers, Posts can stock their delivery trucks with other items for sale based on a customer’s past orders or items they might need in the future. When they arrive, delivery drivers can ask customers if they’d like to purchase something else on the spot. If done correctly, this could really improve profit margins.
Ecommerce is here to stay, so now is the time to start rethinking how Posts interact with customers and systematize deliveries. Consumers’ appetite for instant gratification will only become more unquenchable. Still, by diversifying offerings, making postal services more accessible, and leveraging modern technology, Posts can become the premier choice of third-party vendors, retailers, and consumers alike. Learn more about how you can stay ahead with Escher’s award-winning, next-gen customer engagement platform.