An Post plans up to 80,000 delivery boxes

-Online shopping boom prompts move

The boom in online shopping has prompted An Post to plan providing up to 80,000 customers with delivery boxes for when they are not at home to receive their goods.

Householders or businesses will be able to install them on their outside walls to allow larger items be left by the postman for quick collection, saving the hassle and cost of trips to local delivery centres for undelivered parcels.

Despite a one-third drop in traditional letter mail over the past seven years, An Post has seen mail-order parcel traffic jump almost a quarter last year alone, on top of 14% annual growth for several years.

“This is a response mainly to the increase in online and catalogue shopping, and in anticipation of significant future growth,” a spokeswoman said.

“Parcels and packages are becoming more common as people shop online in increasing numbers, whether it’s larger packages or Jiffy bags,” she said.

A prototype has been piloted in a number of rural and urban areas of Donegal, Dublin, Galway, and Waterford. The boxes will be accessible by keys held by customers and An Post staff.

The use of the new delivery system will attract a one-off fee which has yet to be decided, but the company said it plans to keep the cost as low as possible.

An Post is seeking expressions of interest from firms to make up to 80,000 delivery boxes over the next one to three years. An initial order of 10,000 is expected to be made available to customers early next year, with potential expansion dependant on demand.

“We’re looking at perfecting the design at this stage; it will be a high-quality box that’s durable and secure, and that stands up to weather conditions in Ireland,” the spokeswoman said.

The units should be capable of holding a package up to 37cm long, 25cm wide, and 16.5cm deep, and must be waterproof. Larger boxes and multi-compartment units for apartment buildings are also to be supplied to An Post, according to the brief sent to potential bidders.

There could also be savings in staff time, either through delivery staff not needing to bring undelivered mail to local delivery offices and the possibility of less work at those centres. The company said that, while reducing multiple handling of post would be welcome, the priority is to respond to the requirements of residential and business customers.

The plans emerge in the same week the company increased the price of posting a standard letter from 60c to 68c. It says its rates are below the EU domestic post average of 71c and part of the reason for the 13% rise is to stem losses from its obligation to provide daily collection and delivery in all areas at a uniform tariff.

An Post handles an average of 2.5m letters and parcels every day, and is also planning initiatives to help customers send, receive, and return items more easily.


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