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UPS Expands Package Pickup Service for Online Shoppers

A lot of time and money is being invested into ways to get ecommerce orders delivered into the hands of consumers. UPS began laying the groundwork for package pickup a few years ago as an alternative to at-home delivery. It’s now trumpeting its UPS Access Point network in combination with a service that lets shoppers choose and manage delivery preferences, the company announced on Wednesday.

UPS Access Point locations are local businesses, primarily neighborhood convenience and grocery stores with evening and weekend hours designed to be approximately 10 minutes or less from the consumer’s delivery address.

When unable to deliver a package at the consumer’s residence, UPS drivers leave a note informing them when they can expect to collect their package at a nearby UPS Access Point location. And UPS My Choice members will have the ability to send qualifying shipments directly to a UPS Access Point location as their preferred delivery address.

Consumers can also drop off pre-labeled and prepaid packages at a UPS Access Point location during the store’s hours.

Three years ago, EcommerceBytes posed the question, how might the package pickup trend affect online sellers. Post-purchase logistics is a big deal in ecommerce – issues any online seller can relate to include late delivery; non-delivery; damaged packages; tracking issues; and of course, shipping costs.

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Retailers, marketplaces, and shipping carriers are attacking these issues. Among the tests Amazon is conducting are delivery lockers, drones, Sunday delivery, same-day delivery (with the help of sortation centers), and partnerships, including one with the USPS. eBay is also testing same-day delivery, along with Click & Collect (customers pick up in-store), and ship-from-store.

UPS has nearly 300 UPS Access Point locations in New York City and Chicago with more locations being added each week, and it is installing self-service smart lockers in metropolitan Chicago. In January 2015, UPS plans to add all 4,400 The UPS Store locations throughout the U.S. to the UPS Access Point network. There are currently over 12,000 UPS Access Point locations in seven European countries, and the company expects to have 20,000 locations in key markets throughout Europe and the Americas by the end of 2015.

UPS also announced on Tuesday it had acquired i-parcel, a U.S.-based international ecommerce enabler and logistics company. “The acquisition complements UPS’s international cross-border logistics capabilities from the U.S. and U.K., to over 100 countries. As e-commerce merchants in the U.S., U.K. and other countries grow, UPS continues to strengthen its logistics and technology capabilities to meet the demands of its global customer base.”

Interestingly the shipping company referenced a PayPal study in its announced that estimated cross-border ecommerce as reaching $105 billion this year and exceeding $300 billion by 2018 with 130 million cross-border online shoppers.

“UPS continues to invest in capabilities that enable its e-commerce merchants to meet the growing global demand,” a UPS executive said.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.