The Co-op Group has teamed up with Hermes to offer a ParcelShop service in Co-op Food stores allowing customers to send parcels, as well as pick up and send back online purchases.
The partnership with Hermes – a consumer delivery specialist – was piloted in 42 stores, and will now be extended to up to 450 sites across the UK.
Shoppers will be able to pick up items bought online from retailers like H&M and River Island, or send back online purchases from the likes of Asos, John Lewis and Debenhams.
Chris Whitfield, the Co-op’s retail and logistics director said: “As a community retailer we are committed to enhancing the communities in which we operate. The pilot scheme clearly demonstrated that the Hermes ParcelShop service is used and appreciated by many of our customers and so we are delighted to extend it to many more stores.”
As well as serving customers and making the local Co-op a stronger part of the community, the move is also aimed at bringing more people into Co-op Food stores. The Group say seven out of ten people collecting parcels will also buy something in the shop while they are there.
It’s not the first such partnership the Co-op Group has made. It already has 430 pick-up points with CollectPlus, 274 with Post Office, and – more controversially – 143 stores with Amazon pick-up lockers.
In 2014, workers’ union GMB called on Group members to pressure management to cut ties with Amazon. In a letter to Co-op Group chief executive Richard Pennycook, the union cited Amazon’s “slave-like working conditions”, poor levels of pay, and “rampant” tax avoidance as reasons to avoid a relationship.
The Group replied that it had to balance ethical values with business operations and that Amazon lockers fitted “the needs of changing shopping habits” and made stores “more relevant to a younger generation”.
Some of the new Hermes collection points will be in the same stores as the Amazon lockers.
As the retail landscape evolves, traditional outlets are innovating in order to survive. Morrisons recently announced it would be providing the fresh food for Amazon’s new online grocery range, and Royal Mail delivers eBay orders to Argos stores for collection.
Royal Mail also has a deal with the employee-owned John Lewis Partnership to deliver online orders from Waitrose Wines to Waitrose or John Lewis stores for collection.