Natalie Lightfoot, one of our seven expert retailer columnists, explains how she succeeds with parcels

A parcel service recently warned said “consumers demand higher levels of convenience and lower costs” from service providers, but as shop owners, we are used to that and we know how to make it work.

As a parcel customer myself, I could see the opportunity in myHermes for my store. It is £2.95 for anything under 5kg, the labels can be printed in-store and it is trackable. I’ve now got a myHermes parcel shop label printer installed and last week, for the first time, I achieved £200 in weekly commission.

Even with a post office close by, with a cheaper, more convenient offering, I’m winning over customers that had never set foot in my store before.

I compare this to the traditional categories and it shows the opportunities available to us through adding new services. In terms of the bottom line, parcels now contribute approximately as much as tobacco, but without the associated cash flow and theft risk issues, and I can advertise it, too.

Using Facebook Live, I’m attracting the best kind of parcel customers – Ebay and other online sellers. They come in with 10 parcels and, for 40 seconds work, we make £5 commission. As well as social media, we also use leaflets and related parcel packaging lines to make people aware of the returns, deliveries and collections services we provide. This is because the better online stores do, the better we do. Customers that are confident that they can collect or return goods bought online quickly and easily will shop online more often and therefore generate more commission for our store.

There are longstanding criticisms of click and collect – that it is hard to drive additional spend, that it takes up additional room or that it isn’t what stores have traditionally done. But with these in mind, we’ve made sure the service stands on its own. Yes, it can be a challenge to convert parcel shopper footfall into additional sales, but it gives the opportunity to build relationships with customers that may otherwise not have visited. As with any other customer, whether or not they have enough reasons to visit again is up to you.

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