Itella Group is planning a rapid expansion of its network of automated self-service parcel terminals in its native Finland and in Estonia.
Estonian parcel terminal manufacturer Cleveron is partnering with the Finnish postal service on the project, which has seen Itella SmartPost starting its cross-border service into Estonia this month.
During the course of 2012, Itella is planning on doubling the number of machines on its network to 100 in Finland, and by the end of this year should be expanding the 52 machines it has in Estonia to 62.
As part of the expansion, Itella has agreed terms with Finnish retailing conglomerate Kesko to install parcel terminals in all 75 existing K-citymarket chain stores, as well as future stores, by the end of 2013.
Parcel terminals – banks of lockers from which parcels can be delivered or collected – are particularly geared up for local Internet shoppers to receive their purchases at a time that suits them. Cleveron’s system uses text messages to alert consumers to the arrival of their package in one of its parcel terminals.
Itella Parcel Services vice president Aku Happo said: “Our goal is to make receiving parcels as easy as possible for consumers and that way support the development of ecommerce.”
Itella has already been using Cleveron parcel terminals, while the company has also been supplying postal operators in Estonia, Russia and the Ukraine.
Happo said: “It’s not only technology and lockers, but rather the complex solution that Cleveron has developed and put into practice which will enable us to grow our customer base.”
Itella is one of the first postal operators to run a parcel terminal network outside its native country
With ecommerce volumes almost doubling in Estonia in 2011, Itella sees the market as ripe for expansion of its presence in the republic just across the Gulf of Finland. It will also encourage more Finnish online retailers and catalogue companies to enter the Estonian market.
It costs between 10-14 euros to send a package via the Itella SmartPost terminals between Finland and Estonia, with prices slightly higher for sending parcels to Finnish post offices.
Cleveron, which is based in Viljandi and was founded in 2007, says its native Estonia now sees as many as 50% of ecommerce deliveries made through self-service parcel points.
Cleveron export director Indrek Oolup said placing parcel points on consumers’ everyday routes meant parcel delivery companies could provide the flexibility and swiftness that traditional postal services can lack.
Oolup said the concept was particularly relevant with several European postal providers looking to close a significant number of post offices. Expecting the number of online shoppers to grow in Europe from 157m to 205m by 2015, the Cleveron export director said more and more postal operators were now turning to automated parcel points.
He said: “Self-service parcel points are a natural fit with ecommerce, since modern day customers are less tied to a physical address.”
- See also: Crossing borders – The Value Proposition for Ecommerce – Industry expert David Spottiswood looks at the change in approach needed for postal companies to succeed in the ecommerce segment »