Unprofitable post offices of the future could be replaced by fully-automated machines, rather than moved into supermarkets or turned into part-time postal counters.
That’s the view of technology companies InPost and NCR, who have teamed up to develop a new all-in-one kiosk that will offer a range of postal and financial services within a single unit.
Automated parcel terminal manufacturer InPost and ATM manufacturer NCR are calling their new machine an “automated postal terminal”.
It brings together a banking ATM with an automated parcel terminal, extended to offer registered letter lockers as well.
Polish company InPost, which is in the process of rolling out 16,000 of its parcel pick-up machines around Europe, said the new automated postal terminals could replace unprofitable post offices.
The machines would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing postal customers to avoid queues and access postal services in a convenient location.
As well as registered letter and parcel collection and delivery, the machines would allow provision of financial services including cash withdrawal and deposits, bill payments, money transfers.
InPost and NCR say they are already receiving good interest from international postal operators in the automated postal terminal concept
InPost said the new machine would be as easy to use as an ATM, and could prove a “groundbreaking idea” at a global scale.
Rafa Brzoska, InPost’s chief executive, said automated postal terminals were a “great opportunity” for national postal operators to make the lives of their customers easier.
He said: “These solutions help achieve huge savings thanks to greater efficiency. In particular this refers to unprofitable post offices that need to be maintained because of the legal obligation of national postal operators to provide access to general interest services.”
As they launched the new automated postal terminal concept in Brussels this week, InPost and NCR said they already had a lot of interest from international postal operators in the new terminals.
The first systems will begin testing later this year.
Wolfgang Kneilmann, NCR’s vice president for central and eastern Europe, said: “We see a growing demand from postal organisations for self-service solutions that provide greater customer experience and considerable operational savings.
“We strongly believe that the postal terminal will revolutionise the face of posts over the next few years,” added the NCR VP.
Other postal technology companies and postal operators have been looking at the potential for automated post offices in recent years, particularly as foot-flow within traditional post offices declines, with postal services increasingly available online.
Earlier this year US company Escher Group began trials with Portugal’s postal operator CTT using a range of automated systems to establish an unstaffed automated 24-hour post office facility next to CTT’s headquarters in Lisbon.