Canada Post’s 'Drive-thru Parcel Centre' has been named the ‘Retail Innovation’ winner in J.C. Williams Group/Ebeltoft’s 2016 ranking of most innovative industry concepts. The Canada Post initiative aims for convenience, utilizing automation and self-service technologies to create simpler and more efficient ways for consumers to receive and send parcels.
As originally published in this summer's ’The Marketing Issue’ of Retail Council of Canada’s Canadian Retailer magazine, Canada Post’s three award winning spaces range from 2,000 to 7,000 square feet and are sleek, clean, modern and open. Each offers a unique variety of features suited to the customer needs within that particular area, like 24/7 access, self-service kiosks, a vending machine, a drive-thru for parcel pick-up and even a fitting room to try on online purchases.
Toronto-based retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group, in partnership with global alliance Ebeltoft Group, identified Canada Post’s Drive-thru Parcel Centre as an initiative that could revolutionize Canadian e-commerce. As a result, Canada Post won Ebeltoft's 12th annual ranking of top global retail innovations.
Canada Post’s first Drive-thru Parcel Centre opened in Richmond Hill, Ontario, in the fall of 2015. An Edmonton location followed a year later and most recently, a downtown Vancouver Parcel Centre opened in November of 2016. All three are getting positive reviews, and successful elements will be incorporated into Canada Post's network of 6,200+ stores across the country.
A number of innovations are proving popular with consumers, including:
-Service desks that eliminate the barrier between customers and staff, where staff and customers are encouraged to engage in a more familiar and accessible interaction,
-A philatelic wall displaying collector stamps and souvenirs for purchase, positioned alongside new format displays such as 14 digital screens and a large LED video wall that advertises Canada Post’s latest services,
-Self-service vending machines that eliminate lineups and the need for staff to assist with items such as stamps,
-The potential for pop-up retail units for online-only retailers, allowing for face-to-face interaction with consumers,
-A self-serve parcel kiosk is an automated all-in-one service that utilizes a 'cubing device' to scan packages for size and weight, so that postage can be calculated by the machine,
-An ‘induction box' that allows a customer to submit their deliveries online and print their shipping labels prior to heading to the post office -- once at the centre, consumers can simply scan their packages to drop them off, and
-A 50-square foot private fitting room, offering customers the ability to try on their apparel purchases as soon as they receive their parcels at the post office (Unwanted clothing can easily be returned immediately).
In the Canadian Retailer article, J.C. Williams Group/Ebeltoft describes the concept as “Convenience 2.0”, with a “flash delivery” service experience. For example, customers don’t need to get out of their cars — instead, they can drive up to the store’s welcome kiosk, scan the barcode (either from a smartphone or paper pick-up notice), and drive up to retrieve their purchase.
Revenue per location stands at about $1.2 million annually, as opposed to $400,000 in traditional urban stores. Canada Post has effectively reinvented the modern post office with a focus on convenience according to Mr. Williams.
We will profile one of Ebeltoft's top global retail innovations here on Retail Insider every two weeks, providing insight into significant industry trends that are worthy of discussion. For more information and to read the entire article written by Retail Insider’s Craig Patterson on the Canada Post initiative, head over to Canadian Retailer to read it, as well as other insightful articles in the summer Canadian Retailer Marketing Issue.
*Photos courtesy of Canada Post