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Royal Mail gets competitive

Its a dog eat bearbox e-world

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One of the main problems with ecommerce is getting the stuff you buy delivered to your house. While you are actually in your house, as opposed to while you are at work so that you have to take the following morning off to pick up your parcel from your local post office.

Not surprisingly, any number of companies have sprung up to take advantage of this irritating side of buying stuff online.

One in particular, called E-Stop, is planning to set up a number of depots on major arterial roads where good bought online, at participating can be collected at the buyers leisure. The opening of the first four is planned for next spring, with two in Manchester, one in Birmingham and one in Southwest London.

The system will be free to consumers so the cost will be borne by the retailers. The idea is that for the retailer sending everything to three or four places is cheaper than sending things to customers individually.

Another proposal is called the Bear Box. This is a secure box [no, really? Ed] left outside your house that bulky items can be deposited in by authorised people.

Bad news for the local postie, you might think. However, the Royal Mail is not fazed easily. "We welcome the prospect of more competition," said a company spokesman. (Sure you do...but anyway.)

In all seriousness it will be difficult to compete with the establishment on this one. The Royal Mail is in the process of extending its delivery times, and says it is now making evening deliveries. It has the infrastructure in place and knows the logistics of large scale delivery systems. It also has a network of depots, known as Post Offices (remember them?) that could easily have their pick up hours extended.

The spokesman said that although it was too early to comment on any specific plans or competitors, the Royal Mail could see the benefit of having a network of pick-up points.

These kinds of idea have worked well in the US, but then their post system is not so hot as ours, and with so much more space than here in drizzly Blighty the idea of a central pick up point makes more sense.

Whether it will work out for the new upstarts remains to be seen, but such schemes gets a Register rating of "Sceptical" unless they can offer anything the post office doesn't or can't with a few minor changes. ®

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