Post Office Ltd has launched a new pre-paid card to speed up parcel services for small businesses and Internet power sellers.
The new Drop & Go service is now available at more than 2,200 of the 11,800 UK post offices, and is particularly geared towards those SMEs spending more than £20 a week on postage.
Using the service, customers can simply drop off parcels at a fast-drop counter within a participating post office, and swipe their pre-paid Drop & Go card to pay for shipping.
The service is free to join, and aims to save valuable time for SMEs and eBay power sellers.
Martin Moran, the Post Office commercial director, said the new service was part of a number of changes being made to make postal services more easy to access for customers, along with longer opening hours.
He said: “Over half of the UK’s small businesses visit our branches every week. These businesses play a hugely important role in our economy and we want to make life as easy as possible for them.
The new Drop & Go service provides a fast-drop counter service for SMEs and Internet power sellers, using a pre-paid card
“We hope our new Drop & Go service will offer these customers a much quicker, simpler and more effective experience,” added Moran.
One potential flaw in the new service that eBay sellers have found is that it appears to require a second visit to a post office if merchants want to pick up tracking numbers for the parcels they have dropped off.
If merchants work on a schedule of daily visits to the post office, it can mean a day’s delay before they can send their customers the necessary tracking numbers to monitor shipments.
A spokesperson for Post Office Ltd told Post&Parcel yesterday that tracking for parcels begins on the day on which they are dropped off at the post office, but said tracking numbers do have to be collected on the next visit to the post office.
“The tracking number is on the receipts that the customer collects the next time they visit. The timing of the next visit is up to the customer,” said the Post Office spokesperson.
However, she added: “We will be looking at ways to automate this as part of future enhancements.”
Post Office Ltd, which claims to serve around 20m customers per week including half of all small businesses, is currently facing increasing competition for over-the-counter parcel services even with UK e-commerce booming at present.
Last week saw UPS throw its hat into the ring with the launch of its new network of parcel shops, branded as UPS Access Point.
Parcel carrier Yodel also co-owns a network of 5,000 parcel shops in the UK, called the CollectPlus network, while parcel carrier Hermes launched a network last year that now numbers 1,000 outlets. Newstart company Local Letterbox is also in the process of rolling out a new franchised network of dedicated parcel shops.
Source: Post&Parcel/Post Office Ltd