European Parcel Shops: Insights from Interview Research 2014

Date: 2015-11

“This report contains the findings from a series of 117 interviews that we carried out with parcel shops in the UK, Germany, France and Belgium.

Interviews covered the main operators in each market:

– UK (52 interviews): Collect Plus, Hermes, DHL, UPS
– Germany (30): DHL, Hermes, UPS, GLS, DPD
– France (18): Kiala, Mondial Relay, Pickup Services
– Belgium (17): Kiala, GLS, bpost

Most interviews were carried out by telephone but we conducted 17 site visits to UK parcel shops (from several chains in towns and cities across the south and west of England) to gain more in-depth insights.

The report summarises how handling parcels works from the point of view of the parcel shops. Areas it focuses on include:

– Why they do it and what they see as the benefits
– How many parcels they handle: collection vs receipt
– What works well and what goes wrong
– What spare capacity they have to cope with increased volumes
– To what extent parcels customers buy other things
– Whether they expect to carry on doing parcels in future

We also include detailed transcripts from seven of our site visits.

Why is it important?

Parcel shops are staffed locations, most commonly found in convenience stores with long opening hours. They typically have a data link – usually in real-time – to update the system of the network operator or parcel carrier when an event, such as a delivery or collection, has occurred.

Parcel shops offer benefits to a range of parties:

– For consumers who are not at home all day, they can provide a better and quicker way to get a parcel than a pure home delivery service, as well as a cheap and convenient way to send a parcel.
– For parcels carriers they provide potential for significant cost reduction, not just from eliminating failed deliveries but also from providing consolidation of deliveries and collections.
– For retailers they offer not only a potential to share in the cost reduction but also an additional click-and-collect channel to enhance their proposition to their customers
– The host stores gain from both the incremental revenue and increased footfall

Our report on the European parcel shop and locker market revealed that, when it was written in May 2014, there were almost 100,000 parcel shops across the continent.

We believe that parcel shops have succeeded, and continue to do so, because they have potential to offer benefits to a range of different parties through a combination of increased convenience and lower cost.

The research, and subsequent discussions with clients, threw up several interesting questions. These included:

– How much capacity is there in the parcel shop network? Could networks become a victim of their own success with operators unable to scale up quickly enough and customers finding that there was no space for their parcel?
– With retailers are increasingly relying on parcel shops to be part of their customer experience, how well do the systems and processes work in practice? What things do go wrong and how often?
– Does operating a parcel shop make commercial sense for the host locations? Do they generate the hoped-for additional footfall and what level of incremental sales does it translate into?
– What are the differences between how the main parcel shop chains operate?

Who might the report be useful for?

The report is designed to provide insights for a range of parties involved in the operation of parcel shops and in the broader processes of home delivery.

It is likely to be of interest to:

– Operators of parcel shop networks
– Operators of secure locker networks
– Operators of convenience store chains and other potential host sites
– Parcels carriers
– Internet and multi-channel retailers, especially those who make use of parcel shops to provide a click-and-collect delivery channel for their customers
– Investors in these sectors and their advisors (consulting firms, banks, etc).


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