A new service enabling internet and other home shoppers to collect purchases from their local post office is undergoing tests.

The Post Office is piloting the scheme at 1,000 outlets in the south-west, 237 of these with extended opening hours and another 52 open on Sundays.

In the initial phase of the trial, home shoppers who are out when delivery is attempted will be able to pick up the goods from their local post office, rather than the nearest delivery office which, especially in rural areas, can be some distance away. The second, wider, phase will offer home shoppers the option of having their purchases delivered directly to their local post office.

Although the scheme, which plans to charge e-tailers and mail order companies premium rates, faces competition from existing fulfilment rivals, the Post Office believes its current market position gives it a competitive edge, since it already delivers 60% of online purchases.

“If, as we believe, home shopping is going to be a substantial market, then … the Post Office is in the best position and the most trusted brand to deliver goods”, argues head of home shopping David Taylor.

However, the service will probably not be rolled-out before the annual Christmas boom in home shopping.

News source: Financial Times