A Polish delivery company is to launch a service allowing customers to collect their internet purchases from lockers on petrol station forecourts and in supermarket car parks in the UK.
The arrival of InPost’s service in the UK underlines the proliferation of services that let customers pick up items they have bought on the internet from bricks-and-mortar locations.
Amazon already provides a locker delivery service for items purchased on its website while CollectPlus, a joint venture between parcel delivery business Yodel and PayPoint, delivers to more than 5,000 convenience stores, newsagents and petrol stations.
Earlier this year John Lewis said it would begin offering CollectPlus to shoppers buying items from its website.
InPost, a subsidiary of private postal operator Integer.pl, will launch its service this week with a network of 114 locker sites in Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh among other places.
It will be funded by a combined investment of €108m (£93m) from PineBridge Investments and Integer.pl. The company plans to have 3,000 locker sites operational by the end of the year.
The aim is to alleviate a familiar problem for people shopping online: the inconvenience of waiting at home for an item to be delivered – sometimes for it not to turn up at all – or queueing at a far-flung depot to pick up a missed delivery
Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), the UK trade association for online shops, has estimated that failed deliveries where an item cannot be delivered the first time and on time to a given address cost the economy £851m each year.
InPost will roll out the service in partnership with a handful of small online shops that use CityLink as their parcel delivery service.
However, negotiations are under way to add a dozen of other retailers, including a couple of “reasonably sized” high street chains, and add two or three more delivery companies, according to Simon Croft, InPost UK’s managing director.
“We are trying to get as broad a spread as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that the plan is to make InPost’s service an “open network” available to any delivery company or retailer that wants to join.
Each of InPost’s locations, which are currently concentrated in the suburbs, will contain either 47 or 72 lockers and will be able to store small items up to the size of a microwave oven.
“Ideally we will put some close to railway stations,” Mr Croft added. “It is about being where people go.”