Parcel Motel

I was talking to someone before Christmas and Parcel Motel came up.

It’s a rather clever service from Nightline couriers. They’ve put locker systems into garages around the country. You sign up for the service and they give you a unique identifier. This identifier becomes the first line of your Parcel Motel address. When you get goods delivered using the identifier the parcels get delivered to the Nightline offices in Dublin or Belfast (you can any parcel have it delivered to either address).

Nightline then ships to your chosen Parcel Motel and sends you a text with an unlock code to your mobile phone. You then have two days to pick it up.

It’s a very clever idea for a number of reasons. Amazon.co.uk will ship quite a lot of goods free to UK addresses. You can use the Parcel Motel address to get the goods shipped to Belfast (a UK address) and Nightline will then deliver to your local Parcel Motel for the princely sum of €3.50.  There are also many retailers who sell through Amazon that will only ship to UK addresses. That avoids this problem.

It’s also very handy if you don’t want to depend on An Post to deliver parcels.  My last experience with an An Post delivered parcel to my house was watching a note come through the letterbox saying to the effect of “You were out and you can pickup your parcel at depot x”. Not even a ring on the doorbell. Parcel Motels also have the advantage of being accessible 24 hours a day.

The first two “stays” in Parcel Motel are free. It’s a smart way to hook you into the service. I availed of those and quite a number of other stays in the run up to Christmas. In one case where Smyths were sold out of a particular toy, and no one else in the country appeared to have it in stock, Parcel Motel and Amazon were a very important part of Christmas.

The other thing that struck me about Parcel Motel is that it’s a very interesting innovation. It leverages the existing logistics infrastructure that Nightline have in place (depots, expertise, capacity) and innovates around it. The innovation isn’t cheap. Nightline have invested €5million in putting the motels and the technology to deliver it in place.

It also poses another challenge for An Post. Letter post is slowly dying. (Hands up if you sent a letter to someone that wasn’t for business reasons in the last 12 months, Christmas cards excepted). Online spending is continuing to grow. Online Consumer spending is projected to reach €5.7 billion by 2016, and it won’t all be in Angry Birds.  And as it grows parcel delivery will grow with it.

It strikes me that like many business innovations a significant part of the challenge is coming up with the idea in the first place. Thats the first 90%. Then having the spirit to pursue and execute on the idea. That’s the second 90% of the work.   Continuing to deliver on it is the third 90%. And yes that is 180%.