As consumers increasingly buy goods online, they need more access points and flexible opening hours to send and receive their parcels. Self-service kiosks help eCommerce consumers post parcels quickly, even out of standard post office hours.
For example, last Saturday after shopping, I went to the Post Office to send a parcel. Even though the counter was closed, the kiosk enabled me to weigh, pay for, and send the parcel.
By offering flexible out-of-hour self-service capabilities, consumers are increasingly using the post office to ship parcels, perform additional activities at the kiosk, which results in greater revenues for the Post.
Responding to the Changing Workweeks
For decades, the traditional 9-5 40-hour workweek remained unchanged.
As you knew when and where you’d be most every week, it was easy to schedule activities – whether shopping, banking, and visiting the post office to send or pick up parcels.
Today, we’re increasingly working outside the traditional 9-5 work week and some of us are now working longer hours at home or outside of the office. While there are upsides to these flexible work arrangements, if customers are unable to visit their local branch within standard opening hours, they may look elsewhere to perform transactions.
Intense high street competition has forced retailers to open earlier and close later to accommodate customer’s lifestyles. As a result, customers have come to expect this level of flexibility as the norm.
With the bar for customer service raised higher every year, what steps are Posts taking to respond to these expectations?
Putting the Postal Customer First
Today the postal industry is undergoing a sea change. It’s no longer just letters and parcels.
At the heart of this transformation is a commitment to put the customer first. To achieve this objective, Posts are looking at multiple ways to attract, connect, and retain customers through eCommerce.
As part of this growth strategy, Posts are deploying self-service kiosks (SSKs) in different locations. Kiosks amplify their business by increasing access (locations) and availability (out of hours).
Self-service kiosks meet customer expectations for convenience and choice. Kiosks also serve the needs of time-pressed customers who don’t require counter assistance or can’t visit during regular working hours.
Broadly speaking, Posts are deploying SSKs in the following locations:
- Onsite — available in the post office lobby. Customers can skip the line and access postal facilities during and out of hours
- Offsite — available in public area, such as shopping malls, retail stores, train stations, and universities. These reach customers who cannot visit the branch network but require postal services, for example, professionals who wish to send a business document after hours
In practical terms, this means Posts need to be open when customers wish to use their services, including lunchtime opening and after hours. By integrating counters, mPOS and kiosks, Posts can reduce costs, empower mail carriers, and ensure Out of Hours service provision.
Out of Hours services serves two main purposes:
- Increases the availability of postal service outside the standard Monday to Friday 9-5 work week
- Increases the number of access points to perform postal transactions, for example, at agent networks and shopping malls
Offering Out of Hours Postal Services
24-hour SSKs enable Posts to extend the number of locations and access to postal services.
It also encourages customers to move from full-service counters to automated services, increasing the number and value of transactions, while also strengthening long-term relationships with customers.
For example, Canada Post’s concept store in Vancouver offers a 24/7 self-serve shipping kiosk, automated parcel drop box, out of hours pick up, and a changing room to try on purchases and allow for fast returns.
In addition, many smaller Post Offices are located in third-party stores that offer standard Post Office services and extended postal hours.
Some Posts are even considering self sufficient mini post offices with Kiosks only.
As part of an overarching Point of Service strategy, Posts are deploying self-service kiosks to capitalize on the rise of eCommerce-driven parcel volumes, introduce new lines of business, and establish a stronger position in an increasingly digitized society.
As a total solutions provider to the postal industry, Escher helps clients deploy a cost-effective kiosk strategy across their branch network.