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edition 12 (236)
December 2018
Feature

Packaging the revolution

How collection point networks are transforming retail logistics

Agnieszka Zielińska

Packaging the revolution
“The trend for setting up urban collection points is a characteristic not only of our company but also of the sector,” argues Rafał Nawłoka, the CEO of DPD Polska

The growth in online shopping has not only been changing our habits but also the way parcels are delivered. And the real estate market is set to benefit from this as the competition intensifies between courier networks

At parcel collection points these days you can not only pick up but also try on the clothes or shoes you’ve ordered . If the product doesn‘t suit you, you can also return it immediately. The new trend for picking up products ordered via the internet at special collection points was initially introduced as a pilot scheme by courier networks. Today it is becoming more and more popular with consumers and, as a result, the number of such points has grown dramatically.

Trying it on and sending them back

DPD Polska opened a sorting plant in Parzniew near Warsaw in October. This is a BTS facility with ​​around 11,000 sqm of warehouse space and 3,000 sqm of offices. The sorting plant will serve not only the Warsaw region but also north-eastern and eastern Poland, including such destinations as Olsztyn, Ełk and Białystok in the north, along with Kielce and Zamość in the south. Its construction forms part of the company’s plans to adapt its supply chain to the growing requirements of the e-commerce market and improve its urban logistics operations. It will supply a network of urban distribution points (depots) in Warsaw, which is also being developed by DPD. DPD Polska currently has seven such points in Warsaw and an eighth is under preparation. “The trend for setting up urban collection points is a characteristic not only of our company but also of the entire sector,” argues Rafał Nawłoka, the CEO of DPD Polska.

Urban parcel distribution points have now been established in Warsaw as well as in Gdynia, Katowice and Wrocław. In the capital city there will eventually be several of them in all districts. “The DPD Pickup points differ from standard ones due to the higher standard of their interior design, among other new features. They have fitting rooms in them, where customers can try on the clothes they have ordered and, if necessary, arrange for them to be sent back straight away. It’s worth noting that the number of returns made after using the fitting rooms has been increasing from one month to another,” adds Rafał Nawłoka. At urban collection points, professional packaging materials are also available to customers. A branch located on ul. Wołoska in Warsaw's Mokotów business district offers a full catalogue of services related to the posting and collection of parcels. It also handles deliveries in the immediate vicinity via couriers on electric bikes and on foot.

Less smog and less jam

This new trend is now a major factor in determining the demand for specific properties. The average urban collection point is around 80–100 sqm and includes shop areas with shop windows and zones that can be approached by delivery vans. “We have strict requirements regarding these facilities. The key factors include having the right amount of space with social areas for employees, the location in terms of the number of local residents, excellent transport links, easy access and the ability to park courier vehicles,” explains the CEO of DPD. These areas are usually leased from their owners, who can be homeowner associations, housing cooperatives, businesses or individuals. DPD is aiming to eventually have depots across the whole of Warsaw so that the distance from them to the recipient of the shipment is never greater than 7 km.

According to the CEO of DPD, the expansion of its network will have a number of advantages. The distances travelled by the DPD fleet between its regional Warsaw sorting plant and the end-outlet will shorten, which will not only be more profitable for the company but it will also have less of a damaging impact on the natural environment. “It will not only reduce the number of courier vehicles in cities, and thus reduce the risk of generating smog, it will also be more convenient for the end-buyer. The development of distribution networks and collection points is also important for courier companies due to the emerging challenges of urban logistics and the growing requirements of urban residents,” believes the CEO of DPD. In his opinion, the priority of the company is currently to provide a variety parcel collection options (at home, at work or at a collection point).

Time matters

DHL’s shipment collection network, meanwhile, has also been growing through the opening of partner points. “We are setting up new systems that involve not only courier delivery direct to your door, but also the possibility of picking up purchases at DHL partner points across Poland. This option is becoming increasingly popular because customers value their time and the ability to decide. The important thing for a network of points is the ease of use that is, their proximity, the opening hours and the services available in them. More than 80 pct of our consumers in cities and suburban areas now have a parcel collection point within a ten-minute walk from their home, school or work,” says Maciej Dudek, the manager of the DHL Parcel collection point network.

DHL Parcel has a network of more than 6,500 partner points across Poland. They are located in outlets of Żabka, Freshmarket, Inmedio, 1-minute and Relay as well as Shell petrol stations and individual service outlets. “The growing number of users and their positive response to this service confirm that it was the right direction to go in. The number of shipments handled at such points has been growing more than threefold year–on-year, while the locations and opening hours have been rated by customers at 4.7 on a 5-point scale in our survey,” emphasises Maciej Dudek.

Maciej Dudek, the manager of the DHL Parcel collection point network in Poland


All the rage in Europe

According to Allegro, which is Poland’s largest online shopping platform, deliveries to collection points are around 25–40 pct cheaper than courier shipments ‘to your door’. As a result, almost 45 pct of products on Allegro can now be picked up at a collection point – and this is not counting self-service parcel stations. A survey carried out by the platform reveals that consumers have been warming to this form of collection mainly due to its convenience and price. “The network our clients have access to comprises self-service parcel stations and other collection points, such as Poczta Polska post offices, Ruch, Żabka and Freshmarket stores as well as Orlen petrol stations,” reveals Michał Bonarowski, Allegro’s public relations officer.

The creation of such a network has given Allegro’s customers access to thousands of collection points managed by partners. According to Michał Bonarowski, the trends across Europe indicate that collection points will continue to grow in importance because they enable convenient deliveries close to places of residence or work. The introduction of the new Allegro Smart service will also push up the number of collection points. In the last year alone, the number of parcels sent to Allegro collection points has increased by almost 80 pct. According to the company, its network of partner collection points along with self-service parcel pick-up stations will amount to more than 20,000 locations by the end of this year.

Growing popularity

Poczta Polska (the Polish Post) has been the largest despatch and collection chain in the country for many years. Since last year, it has been possible to pick up the parcels it handles at Orlen petrol stations. “We have now established the largest chain of collection points in Poland: Poczta Polska Odbiór w Punkcie. More than 10,700 pick-up points are now available, including post offices and postal self-service collection points, Żabka and Freshmarket stores, Orlen petrol stations and Ruch newsagents. By early 2019 we should have several hundred more locations, bringing the total to an impressive 11,000 collection points,” claims Justyna Siwek, a spokesperson for Poczta Polska.

In her opinion, no logistics company on the Polish market can boast such an extensive delivery network as Poczta. “We also reach the smaller towns, providing residents with the opportunity to collect their online shopping in a convenient way. In 2019 we want to expand our chain of collection points and courier deliveries to post offices in smaller towns, including rural areas,” reveals Justyna Siwek.

Courier companies today cooperate with many partners, explains Maciej Kotowski, a market analyst at JLL


The last mile is the hardest

Will the new demand for courier services create the need for new forms of real estate? According to Maciej Kotowski, a market analyst at JLL, for now this is unlikely. Urban warehouse locations are not popular with logistics people just yet, mainly due to the high costs. This, however, may change in the future. “At the moment, courier companies are generally establishing chains of points for the collection and despatch of parcels in cities, using, for instance, partner outlets, which are mainly focused on the target customer. These are then no longer just newsagents or grocery stores but also service points, such as dry cleaners and hairdressers. The growing number of such points stems from the growth of the e-commerce sector. And such cooperation models with partner institutions are currently very popular,” explains Maciej Kotowski.

In his opinion, it is worthwhile looking at this trend from a wider perspective and distinguishing large logistics operators from courier service providers, while taking into account the fact that logistics is a low-margin business where it is necessary to look for savings. Therefore it is with warehouses near cities that opportunities for reducing costs exist, in contrast to those in the city centres. “We are seeing a significant increase in the activity of courier firms in suburban locations. This is clear from the new lease agreements signed by DHL in Dąbrowa Górnicza in Silesia, in Szczecin, in Pruszków and Radzymin near Warsaw and in Gądki near Poznań in recent quarters. Another example is DPD, which has leased warehouse space in Czechowice-Dziedzice and Pruszków. A large number of these companies operate out of their own handling facilities, which are not leased but in most cases also located outside the boundaries of the largest cities,” adds the expert from JLL.

Another result of the development of e-commerce is, in his opinion, the leasing of new space in what are regarded as developing provincial markets, such as Rzeszów, Kielce, Bydgoszcz and Szczecin. The residents of these smaller cities have a less developed range of retail compared to the larger conurbations, and this has given a boost to local internet orders. Serving all the cities in eastern Poland through the Warsaw terminal has thus become Impractical and less cost-effective. In the near future, it is in these locations (cities with population of around 200,000) that the courier services sector is expected to grow dramatically, according to JLL’s expert. “The clear intensive growth of e-commerce has led to an expansion in the number and size of courier firms, but they are still tending to operate in suburban locations, which include last mile services, from where the goods are despatched to a parcel destination or a partner facility for picking up,” adds Maciej Kotowski. ν

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