An Post plans nationwide network of parcel lockers as online shopping soars

An Post is advancing plans for a nationwide network of self-service parcel locker stations to enable customers more conveniently access online deliveries and make returns.

It will put it in competition with existing providers, including Parcel Motel, the service that is part of Nightline. That group was acquired by UPS in 2017.

An Post said it had “a vision to become the e-commerce backbone of Ireland for shippers and shoppers”.

Last year, it said it was contemplating the installation of lockers in existing post offices.

The company has now said the new parcel locker system would be concentrated in high footfall areas in Dublin and key regional centres. An Post plans to initiate the contracts to install the lockers in November this year.

“An Post wants to make it easier for customers to collect and return parcels at locations and times that best suit them,” a spokesman said.

He said the move had been prompted as An Post transformed its business “in an increasingly digital world”, and in line with the surge in e-commerce activity.

An Post processed more than 30 million parcels last year, a 42pc increase on 2017, as shoppers increasingly opted to buy goods online, a trend that is putting huge pressure on many high street retailers.

“An Post is looking to roll out a range of new, physical touch points designed to complement its retail outlets network and offer online consumers exceptional convenience and flexibility when it comes to the delivery and returns of their parcels,” An Post has told prospective companies interested in supplying and installing the new locker stations.

It is envisaged they will be installed at points such as fuel forecourts, shopping centres and public transport nodes.

The tender is in two lots: one for the installation of the locker stations across the country, and the second for their maintenance over an initial five-year period.

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