What I would do to Royal Mail

May 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm 3 comments

By Peter Baeck

This week I received a book I bought online. Or well, I didn’t receive it, but Royal Mail tried to deliver it. The problem was, as it is for most people, that I was at work when the mailman came. So I had to wait until the weekend, to pick up my package on a Saturday between 9 – 12, (the only time my whitechapel post office is open during the weekend). In light of this and the recent talk about the costs of Royal Mail and its effectiveness (or lack of same), I started thinking about alternatives, which of course led me immediately towards my homeland Denmark.

Although the Danish postal service in Denmark faces a lot of the same problems as Royal Mail, -its to expensive and not efficient enough, they have in the last five years sought some changes which I think are excellent, and could easily be transferred to the UK.

As a response to the growing amount of packages delivered as a result of the increase in people shopping online, the Danish Postal Service realized that the old method of delivery to peoples homes, was to inefficient for packages, especially when people weren’t home anyway, so they introduced ‘Døgnposten’ or in English 24 hour mail. Døgnposten is a parcel/letter vending machines  that allows for 24 hour collection if parcels and letters and services. All done electronically (you get a bar code slip from the post man and directions to where the Doegnpost is. postal customers get an sms or e-mail when there has been a delivery and the item can be collected from the designated machine within seven days. You go there, swipe the barcode, one of the lockers open and you can pick up you parcel.

Secondly, I would drive forward efficiencies in Royal Mail by not using it. I still get the majority of the communications from the public sector in old school letter format to huge expenses for the public sector as well as the environment.  I acknowledge that not all citizens have an email address or internet access and this group should of course still receive letters or be taught and encouraged to use mail.  But for me, and I assume a large group of users,  I would actually prefer to just receive emails, simply because these are easier to manage.


Entry filed under: Public Services.

Innovation Unit presents Radical Efficiency at Institute for Government. Not Doing What We’ve Always Done

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim  |  May 25, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    I’m a postman, working from an office different to the one that delivers my mail, and I routinely work 6 days a week, with start times as early as 5:30am, and finish times as late as 6pm. If I am expecting a packet to arrive at an empty flat, then when I order, I ask for it to be delivered to my place of work. AFAIK, all web retailers allow you to specify a different delivery address to your home address.

    As for preferring to use emails for communications, rather than letters – do you really want to accelerate the spiral into privatisation? Can you suggest a UK public-owned service which has been privatised, without massive upheaval, and disruption, and to the betterment of it’s customers, ‘cos I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m damned if I can.

    In a similar vein, can you imagine how a 90 yead old woman, living on her own, and set in her ways, would react to the upheaval of losing her only daily social contact, and having to get used to using a pc to recieve any communication? I work in Sevenoaks, not a deprived area by any means, but on any walk I do, I can show you the houses of people that would not cope with your proposed changes…..perhaps you should come out and spend a day on the job, you might learn that old school need not mean bad school.

  • 2. thirup  |  May 26, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Hi JIm, thanks for your comment. I as well as many of my colleagues do have packages delivered to our office, that we then take home. The problem for me personally is, that i bike to work across London every morning, and dont want to carry anymore than i necessiraly have to in my backpack (which is already heavy enough with work clothes). And even i if i wasnt biking, i would still see delivering packages to work as a very inefficient solution. Having the he postman bring something to my office, and then me taking it all the way home, seems like unnecessary work for both parts, when i could just give notice when i order online, that i would like it delivered to Doegnposten, which would effectively mean less work for the postman and less work for me.

    On using emails instead of letters, i don’t see this as privatization. For me it is about royal mail, as well a the various public bodies, adjusting to the times and the way in which society has developed. And you have to agree with me, that the public sector isn’t exactly famous for being flexible. I would love for royal mail, the publicly owned version, saying ‘we want to introduce a radically new way of delivering letters/parcels and communication in general, because we realise that in 2010 there are new dynamics in society, such as a greater reliance on the inbox than the postbox amongst user, that we should try and accomodate and adapt to. And disruption might not be a negative word in this context.

    As for your final point. I completely agree. Post Men fill a vital role in society, in particular when it comes to social contact with older citizens. Some innovators ive come across has event suggested that the public sector should utilize this insight, and link post men and social workers and they insights they bioth have about vulnerable citizens better together. But i don’t think delivering a physical letter should be an excuse for us to ensure a daily visit to older citizens. Delivering letters and parcels can partially be cut out of the system, social contact can not. I guess i would keep the postman, but get rid of the post.

  • 3. Dennis  |  May 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Do you know if you can use this service with all webshops? Or does the retailer have to offer this delivery service?


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