Royal Mail has just announced a brand new Royal Mail Collection Service—Parcel Collect. So, how will this affect the customer experience? And how can ecommerce brands use this game-changing new Royal Mail collection service to their advantage? As an SEO and link building agency that specialises in ecommerce, we decided to take a closer look…
Royal Mail was forced to make 2,000 staff redundant this year. And, as much as we all love receiving a postcard or handwritten note in the post, let’s be frank—the letter delivery service has been in decline for years.
After 150 years in the letters trade, it was time for a substantial pivot. And what are we all sending and receiving (in ever-increasing amounts) thanks to the restrictions of a global pandemic? Packages.
So, guess which familiar figure in red will now be collecting packages at your door? No, sorry, Santa’s not taking refunds.
It’s your friendly neighbourhood Royal Mail postie—now offering to pick-up five parcels per household a day, Monday-Saturday. Simple and convenient, the new Royal Mail collection service is targeting time-strapped and safety-conscious marketplace sellers, families and friends who are looking to send and receive items with ease.
But the million-pound question for ecommerce brands: how will this affect my business?
First, let’s look at how the new service works.
How does Royal Mail Parcel Collect work?
- Pay for postage online.
- Enter your parcel size, weight and service.
- Click ‘Parcel Collect’ for a home collection, or nominate a safe place to collect your item from.
- Print the postage label and stick it on your parcel.
- Your Royal Mail postie collects the parcel, at your door or safe place.
Customers pay 72p for each parcel sent through the Post Office collection service, plus postage costs, or 60p for a pre-paid return item.
Why change now?
Over the years, we’ve all seen Royal Mail’s traditional letter service dwindling, with the company delivering 1.1bn fewer letters year-on-year. More recently, the once publicly owned monopoly has warned it won’t make a profit without substantial change, and share prices in the last few years have plummeted.
With so many people now working from home during the Covid-19 outbreak, Royal Mail reported an increase of 177 million parcels in the five months to 30 August, with a £139 million increase in revenue. The new Royal Mail collection services seems a no-brainer for people with smaller packages or gifts to send and receive, and the company is smart to take advantage of that.
What will this shift mean for ecommerce businesses?
The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping. But one of the most significant barriers to ordering goods online is the hoops people have to jump through to return items: paying for postage on an item you’ve decided you don’t want, or wasting time—and risking personal safety—by visiting the local high street to send back your return.
Working closely with many ecommerce brands, we’re super excited about the positive impact of the Royal Mail collection service for ecommerce sales:
Better customer experience
Whether we like it or not, customers now expect an Amazon Prime level of service—the exact item you want, straight to your door, and in a very short time-scale.
So it’s jarring when the returns process is so much harder. 84% of shoppers say they won’t come back to a brand with a poor returns experience and 75% say easy returns are an essential factor in their choice of retailer.
And that opens up some great opportunities. Those smart retailers who offer an easy returns process? They’re the ones seeing an increase in sales and customer loyalty.
Of course, this level of service comes at a cost, so it’s not an option for every ecommerce business. Luckily, Royal Mail can now help ecommerce brands offer a returns service that’s almost as smooth as the delivery itself.
Reduced financial risk
For smaller, lighter ecommerce orders, the cost of returning an unwanted item with Royal Mail could be less than a pound. So there’s no great financial loss if an item needs to be returned.
This increases the likelihood that customers who are not yet 100% sold on an item will go ahead with an online purchase, to try-on or get a closer look at home. And at this point, the item becomes more tactile, and the customer is more likely to keep it. After all, who wants to return a deliciously soft, velvety cushion?
Us Brits love our creature comforts, particularly during the cold winter months. And it doesn’t get easier than returning an order online, from your sofa, at the click of a button (and you don’t even need to be at home for Post Office posties to collect it).
Pandemic peace of mind
Vulnerable people in high-risk groups can now order and return items from the safety of their own home. Throughout the buying journey, there’s no need to venture out—and that’s bound to give people added peace of mind.
Lockdown has also increased the use of digital services by older generations—just look at the ‘grey pound’ boom in online food and clothes shopping. Altogether, 74% of people in the UK now feel confident ordering online. A pandemic-compatible collection service from a trusted brand like Royal Mail can only continue to accelerate people’s confidence in ecommerce brands.
So, what next?
We’ll be keeping a close eye on the Royal Mail collection service for ecommerce clients in the coming weeks and months—and you should too. Here are a few takeaways:
- Do you currently offer an affordable and convenient returns service on your ecommerce site? If not, now’s the time to consider how you might. As we’ve said, the companies who offer this kind of service are the ones who win out—earning customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Consider creating a more seamless user journey by partnering with Royal Mail. By combining your products with their returns service, customers will be more tempted to shop with you.
- If nothing else, we recommend highlighting the Parcel Collect service in your communications with customers to give them that final push to click ‘buy’.
From marketing and content to SEO and link building, we love nothing more than helping ecommerce brands increase their organic revenue and grow. Interested in working together? Get in touch.