Consignia tackles e-tail problem

Consignia last week began trials of a system that allows retailers to deliver goods ordered online or via a catalogue, whether...

Consignia last week began trials of a system that allows retailers to deliver goods ordered online or via a catalogue, whether customers are at home or not.

The move is an attempt to address the issue of fulfilment, identified by many consumers as the biggest problem with home shopping.

Consignia has chosen five providers of "drop-box systems" for the six-month trial.

BearBox, ByBox, Had Delivery Point, Homeport and Secure Storage Solutions will serve about 200 customers through about two dozen retailers, including Tesco and Sainsbury's and off licence chain Oddbins.

"Consignia is the common link between retailers, consumers and drop-box system providers," said David Taylor, managing director for home shopping at Consignia.

How drop-box systems work
The system format varies according to the provider, ranging from an external box attached to the side of a house with a simple battery operated keypad, through to coded access to a secure area, such as a shed or a garage. Enhanced functions on some systems offer a text-messaging service to mobile phones and e-mails alerting customers to deliveries. The customer agrees a description of the location of their box with their system supplier. They might also be provided with an access code to open the box, depending on which system is used.

The delivery driver is given a label with a set of instructions and, if necessary, a code to access the system. Some providers also allow customers to use the system for returns.

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