Christmas is coming up and we’ve just had “Black Friday” supposedly the busiest shopping day of the year. No doubt there are going to be millions of gifts purchased online over the coming weeks. So, internet online shopping is booming. It’s easy to compare prices, and quick to make a purchase. But, in our busy lives, and particularly for those living alone, there is one problem. When ordering items that are bigger than you letter box how is the delivery going to be received?
Assuming you don’t have a spouse who is a “homemaker”, and you work full time, you have a few options.
- Take time off work. Difficult, sometimes impossible to arrange with colleagues. Left with uncertainty if package will actually be delivered on day you take off. If you choose specified day delivery, often much more expensive.
- Go to Royal Mail office and pick up after the postman leaves you the little “you were not in” card. But not all e-tailers use Royal Mail, or it’s difficult to find out. Do you know where the closest DHL or City Link, UPS etc depot is? Also sometimes it’s almost as inconvenient to get to the Royal Mail office. For me there is no local free parking, and about only hours I can make it are at weekend.
- Hope you neighbour will be in and can take package for you. Obviously depends on your relationship with you neighbour, and for most people it is a bit too much to ask them to stay in especially. Also how do you communicate to the e-tailer to get them to leave it with the neighbour.
There is another solution. What if you could arrange delivery to a mailbox near you that you could access easily and at a time convenient to you? The principle sounds plain common sense, but it has taken a while for someone to get this type of service off the ground. This is my experience with such a service, from a company called ByBox.
So I signed up for a free 14 day trial. You are given a unique address that you put as your delivery address when you shop online e.g. at Amazon. Once ByBox receives your parcel it forwards it to your local ByBox (there is a network of about 1300 secure boxes throughout the UK, mine was at my local Tescos about 10 minute drive from my home)
You can track the progress of your package from when ByBox receive it to the time it is delivered to you local ByBox. Additionally they have incredibly friendly and attentive Customer relations on Twitter (@ByBox). I was able to get confirmation of when my package would arrive via tweets. On delivery, formal notification is made to you via email and text (SMS) message giving you a code to type into the panel at the box location. On entering the code the door clicks open, you remove your package and shut the door. That’s all there is to it.
24th Nov (about 2030hr) – Ordered from Amazon
25th Nov (0000hr) – dispatched from Amazon
26th Nov (0118hr) – arrived at ByBox (Coventry)
27th Nov (0400hr) – delivered to the local ByBox
27th Nov (0730hr) – SMS and email received with codes to open box
27th Nov (1000hr) – I did my weekly shop at Tescos, and then picked up the parcel!
I really can’t fault the experience I had. I would certainly use it again, under the right circumstances.
This was all free as I was using the 14 day trial. However in future you of course have to pay. You can either pay-as-you-go currently £5 per package. Or you can subscribe with various options (e.g. £30/3 months, £40/6 months, £50/ 12 months). For me since I don’t purchase large items too frequently (CDs DVDs and books usually fit through my letterbox) I would use the PAYG option. Is £5 worth it? You have to make that judgement for yourself. For me if I was buying a “big ticket” item i.e. costing £100 or more then probably I would. The service is good and the convenience is great.
I think ByBox could consider developing it’s service by perhaps partnering with other firms (if Amazon had this as a standard option I bet the take up would be large. ByBox would have to cut Amazon a good deal of course, but the volume of traffic might make it worthwhile). Also they could tweak their PAYG cost. £5 I would think about it, £2-3 I would probably use almost every time. Only ByBox knows whether this makes financial sense for them.
In summary, in terms of the service and how it works I give top marks. It’s great to have this as an option to solve that tricky waiting in problem. Would I use it frequently? – all depends on the price/convenience ratio!