MyHermes has launched a new fascia for independent stores amidst plans to grow and invest in its partnered ParcelShop sites in 2020.

The more than £1m investment in providing the initial 200 ‘ambassador’ stores with Full-front fascias, full window branding and projecting wall signs began in late November. More than 150 stores have already made the switch with another 50 underway, according to head of ParcelShop services Kath Gill. “We work with chains like Co-op societies and One Stop, but we wanted to offer something just for our independent stores which account for 70% of our network,” she explained.

Asked whether it could be made available to more independent stores, Gill answered: “It’s definitely where we want to go. We absolutely want to be able to expand this across our independent estate if shopkeepers want us to.”

Initial results over the peak Christmas parcel period showed that those who had made the switch to the new branding had outperformed the rest of the network in terms of seasonal volume increases.

Nadarajah Arumugathas, owner of Coulsden Village Stores in Croydon, was the first site to make the switch. He commented: “It’s great to see the new look which is much brighter and fresher,” he said. “Providing customers with clear information about the parcel options in-store has made a difference here and I’m really happy with the results.”

Upcoming ParcelShop developments

MyHermes also confirmed that it is still looking for new stores to join its ParcelShop network, though it does have a ‘tight criteria.’ This includes required footfall density, such as proximity to a transport hub or residential density in the nearby area. Store standards, long hours and even parking provision are other factors taken into account.

The company also revealed new initiatives to help ParcelShop sites generate more revenue and footfall from click and collect. These include completing the rollout to of its in-store label printing terminals that allow customers to easily send parcels. Gill said 3,900 of its 5,000 ParcelShops already had the devices, and that they lift parcel volumes by an average of 15%.

This year will also see the launch of a brand-new feature, known internally as ‘Diversion’. The ParcelShop boss explained: “Diversion will mean if a customer has chosen to have a parcel delivered to home, if they then change their mind while it’s out for delivery they can opt to have it delivered to a local parcel shop instead. It’s joining up our ParcelShop and lifestyle courier networks to give customers another choice.”

A new returns centre will also open later in 2020 to make the process quicker and more convenient for customers, according to Gill.

Retailers had previously commented that they had been unable to join MyHermes because they provide rival services in their store. Challenged on whether this was a barrier to applicants, the head of ParcelShop services responded: “It’s something we’re always reviewing and we do have some shops that offer multiple parcel services, it depends on the other parcel services they’ve got in there and whether they’ll be able to handle our volumes as well as our competitor’s volumes. We will have that conversation with the individual retailer and check if the shop and back office is organised enough to provide multiple services and maintain customer satisfaction levels.”

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