Consignia Tests New Delivery Services

Consignia, parent company of the United Kingdom's postal service, is exploring the potential of new styles of delivery in which people do not have to be at home to receive goods ordered from catalogs or via the Internet.

Consignia has begun trials of drop-box solutions in a variety of locations. The plan is to test consumer demand and the ways the different systems work. Consignia, which changed its name from The Post Office Group earlier this year after becoming a public company, includes Royal Mail, Parcelforce Worldwide and the country's 18,000 post office branches.

Consignia is working with systems providers BearBox, ByBox, HDA Delivery Point, Homeport and Secure Storage Solutions. A sample size of around 200 consumers is involved in the trials with four of the providers, although the ByBox system will be located in public areas and could potentially involve as many as 1,000 customers. In addition, about two dozen retailers are involved, including U.K.-based retailers Oddbins, Sainsbury, Tesco, Taste for Wine and Penny Plain, the women's fashion mail-order company.

The trial comes two months after the launch of Consignia's Local Collect service, which allows people to have their goods delivered to their local post office if they are not at home to receive a delivery. This followed Parcelforce Worldwide's rollout last year of time-window deliveries until 9 p.m., whereby customers could expect delivery within a certain time frame.

All of these initiatives are designed to assist home-shopping customers and resolve so-called last-mile, or at-home, delivery problems and remove one of the barriers to more rapid growth in the home-shopping market.

Consignia last month also announced the results of a study that found that retailers in the United Kingdom are planning a major overhaul of their delivery strategies to ensure the home-shopping boom continues.

According to the survey of 100 companies, including some of the country's largest home-shopping retailers, 70 percent of respondents regard reliable delivery as the most important influence on the future growth of the market; 58 percent said delivery at a time and place convenient to the consumer was the second-most important factor.

One of the most popular options for driving future growth in home shopping was time-window deliveries. This was seen as the most likely last-mile delivery service to fuel future growth by 67 percent of those surveyed. For retailers operating online, the figure was 71 percent.

David Taylor, Consignia's managing director for home shopping, said, “Retailers have realized that reliable and convenient delivery is the No. 1 issue which could act as a barrier to continued home-shopping growth, and they are committed to addressing this by introducing new and innovative delivery methods.”

The survey revealed the strong potential for greater use of Consignia's time-window, Local Collect and drop box services. According to the study:

· Fifty percent of retailers surveyed are or hope to be offering time-window delivery services in the next 12 months, with an additional 12 percent considering offering this service in the longer term.

· Fifty percent of retailers are adding or plan to add delivery to a local post office branch for collection in the next 12 months, with another 12 percent considering offering it in the longer term.

· Retailers also see a potential in the use of drop-box solutions with up to 33 percent either already or considering offering delivery to such systems in the coming 12 months.

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