The customer is king (and queen): you demand more from your retailers and expect greater convenience. This is why retailers are exploring different ways to get your item into your hands as quickly, conveniently and cheaply as possible.
These range from Amazon’s drone delivery program, currently being trialled in the US, to having it delivered straight to your car boot, a scheme introduced by Audi in Germany. More and more customers are also choosing to click & collect in store when buying online. With so many alternative delivery methods, the ParcelHero team decided it was a good idea to have a look at how you can click & collect.
Click & Collect
Click & Collect has been hailed by retailers and consumers alike for providing the convenience of online shopping without the need to queue at the Post Office. No more ‘attempted delivery’ cards, no more taking the whole day off to wait in for the delivery guy. So how does it work?
When ordering your item online, one of the booking options may include a Click & Collect delivery option. A text box is normally available for you to enter your postcode to see if an access point is available close by. An access point is normally a local retailer or supermarket that will hold onto your parcel until you come and collect it. The greatest convenience here is that retailers tend to be open well beyond normal work hours, dovetailing with workers’ commute.
Currently most supermarkets and retailers tend to offer an in-house click and collect service, where you can order online and collect in store. This does go further, however, as the likes of John Lewis and Waitrose, operate a scheme where your order from John Lewis can be picked up at your local Waitrose store. This type of partnership also exists with eBay and Argos – so order some second-hand books from an eBay merchant and have them sent to your local Argos store, simple!
UPS Access Point™
At ParcelHero, next-day delivery via UPS includes a single delivery attempt. After this, your package goes to your nearest UPS Access Point™. After checking where your nearest UPS Access Point™ is via their website, the customer simply goes a long, provides ID and picks up their package. The beauty of this is in the extended hours of the retailer, with most supermarkets and corner shops open until 10pm.
More and more retailers are jumping aboard the click and collect bandwagon, but as it stands the service is still fairly young. The UK is significantly behind the times in providing enough services for a more advanced and convenient click and collect service. In Germany for example, DHL has 250,000 lockers and 20,000 parcel shops while in France, 60 million parcels are sent to pick-up points or lockers. This is because click and collect is a far more viable form of delivery. For a start, it’s friendlier to the environment, reducing the amount of wasted trips to and from delivery depots by couriers and consumers. Secondly, it’s simply more convenient.
Doddle, have taken the ‘local convenience store’ option one step further. Establishing dedicated Doddle stores in, or close to, tube and train stations. If you register, all your parcels can be picked up at locally, you can try on clothes in-store and return them immediately. Sometimes for free. You are charged otherwise. If you want to send via ParcelHero to a Doddle store, simply give us the Doddle address when you book.
Lockers = 24-hour pickup
More and more people are opting to have their parcels delivered to alternative addresses, either at work or to a designated neighbour. Although this is practical enough for small items, anything larger than a DVD can seem a little suspect when walking through your office. Many bosses are now banning the practice. The perfect solution to our increasingly demanding consumer habits is the Click & Collect service, ‘a shopping facility whereby a customer can buy or order goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch.’
With the recent introduction of designated lockers into the UK, those ordering from Amazon or eBay can send their packages directly into secure lock boxes, located in stores, petrol stations and more. A unique passcode is given to the customer which then unlocks the lockbox revealing their ordered package. Some schemes are already in existence: Amazon and Transport for London (TFL) have announced a deal to open parcel lockers in tube station car parks. Some of these include Finchley Central and Newbury Park stations.
One of the greatest advantages of click and collect is 24-hour collection points. As they are stored in lockers there is no need for collection points limited by shop hours. Companies like Doddle have now established lockers in partnership with National Rail. Customers using Doddle can have their parcels delivered to available lockers in their local railway station. Once they arrive, using a unique access number, they can collect their parcel and head home.
The opportunity with this has evolved into groceries. What’s better than skipping out that end of work commute to the supermarket, waiting in a very long line and then heading home late – when you can pre-order your groceries and have them delivered to a refrigerated locker? This service was even introduced last year into airports. Waitrose partnered with Gatwick to allow travellers the option to pre-order and collect their groceries straight from the airport.
Obviously, you can’t order your new flat screen TV to a locker, there are weight and size limitations. But for the majority of standard parcels, from books, groceries, small gifts and more lockers are absolutely ideal.
DHL Parcel, Amazon and Audi have teamed up to offer an even more convenient service that delivers straight to your car boot. Using a specially designed smartphone app, the DHL delivery driver will be able to pinpoint exactly where your car is. The driver is then given a one-time unique boot unlock number to open the car boot. Once delivered, the car will then automatically lock again and the customer is informed of the successful delivery.
Drone delivery is a hot topic in delivery logistics. Amazon has already patented a drone delivery service that follows you around using your phone’s GPS location. Once a designated spot has been agreed upon by you and the delivery drone (probably via your smartphone), the item will then be dropped off, you just need space for the drone to land. A lot of fine tuning, and a few laws need to happen before armies of drones are delivering your purchases.
Whatever the future holds, the days of waiting in all day nose pressed to the window to receive a parcel, will one day become a thing of the past.