UPS today launched a new network of parcel shops in the UK suitable for consumers to use as alternative delivery points when shopping online.
The UPS Access Point network starts with more than 600 “carefully selected” convenience stores and fuel stations ready to provide local access to the UPS parcel delivery network for parcel collections and product returns.
UPS said that with a progressive roll-out of more stores, by June it should have 1,500 outlets in place.
The world’s largest package delivery company is eyeing forecasts of 13-15% growth in e-commerce, but along with domestic e-commerce, UPS Access Point should offer access to cross-border sales, and UK retailers will also be able to offer “Click and Collect” solutions to their customers through the network.
UPS said today that 37% of UK consumers want an alternative delivery point for receiving parcels at locations with long opening hours, and that only 60% of consumers were satisfied with experiences of returning items bought online.
The launch of UPS Access Point follows UPS’s acquisition of the Belgium-based European parcel shop network Kiala last year. Kiala is already operating with 6,500 locations in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain.
UPS said following the UK roll-out, it plans to launch the concept in Germany later this year.
Joe Mozzali, the vice president of strategy at UPS Europe, said UPS Access Point uses Kiala’s “powerful” technology platform along with the integrated transport network of UPS, and will offer access to cross-border delivery.
“All this will help to increase the convenience and quality of service for consumers,” he said, noting the recent EU Commission green paper on the role of parcel delivery in growing European e-commerce.
In the UK, UPS Access Point will be competing with existing parcel shop networks including CollectPlus, a network of more than 5,000 outlets co-owned by parcel carrier Yodel, and the myHermes network of more than 1,000 outlets managed by parcel carrier Hermes, as well as newstart Local Letterbox and the 11,800-strong network of UK post offices, in which Post Office Ltd is working on strengthening its e-commerce offerings.
UPS said its home delivery services will continue to improve its consumer experience alongside UPS Access Point, making online shopping “an even more attractive proposition”.
“The B2C sector is and will continue to be a powerful growth area,” said Mozzali. “We are committed to offering our customers the solutions they want, whether they are retailers trading over the Internet or busy consumers looking for convenient delivery options. UPS Access Point brings UPS’s renowned quality and reliability to a new, cross-border consumer-delivery concept.”