Hermes is launching a service for collections, returns and consumer-to-consumer deliveries via convenience stores in urban areas called My Hermes Parcel Shop.
The service allows shoppers to return goods simply by taking them to a local convenience store in the Parcel Shop network.
In a challenge to the Post Office, customers can also send their own parcels to via the network. And by the fourth quarter this year, online shoppers will be able to nominate a Parcel Shop to take delivery of online orders to pick up at their convenience.
The offering will compete with the CollectPlus business, but Steve Murray, head of business development says that it does not aim to compete or poach CollectPlus customers, but to supplement and improve its own service.
Murray says that Hermes will not operate from stores already in the Collect Plus network, and is being selective in its recruitment of convenience stores to its Parcel Shop network. “We have rejected 28 per cent of the stores we considered because of the quality of shop, the opening hours, or the location.”
Hermes is targeting urban areas where shoppers are less likely to have a safe place or neighbour to take delivery of goods during working hours. Hermes envisages its Parcel Shops as being a high street base for online only retailers.
More than 500 stores are operating in the network already, and Hermes aims to have 1,000 in operation by the peak in October. It eventually hopes to have about 3,000 – 4,000 stores.
Hermes has signed a deal with Midcounties Co-Op which will see over 80 Co-Op stores in its region join the Parcel Shop network.
The service follows the model established in Germany in 2000 which now has a network of some 14,000 stores.
Chief executive Carole Woodhead, said their initial research showed that 86 per cent of online shoppers prefer to arrange returns online, and its customers such as Debenhams value online customers because they spend 2.5 times more than shop only customers.