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Mapmechanics helps InPost add impact to parcel locker proposition

On average, there is an InPost 24/7 Parcel Locker to use for sending, collecting and returning parcels within two miles* of all urban consumers in Britain. That statistic, now part of the proposition of InPost, the largest fully automated 24/7 parcel locker network in the world, has been derived from bespoke analysis conducted for the company by Mapmechanics, the digital mapping and demographic data specialist.

Mapmechanics is a leading supplier of solutions and data for business intelligence (BI), geographic information systems (GIS), planning and analysis, sales and marketing and logistics planning.

Among Mapmechanics’ product offerings, the company provides a bespoke project-based consultancy service to clients who need to analyse and evaluate data for a specific requirement, but may not want to buy and install software and related data themselves, or train staff to use it purely for a one-off task.
InPost is building up a network of safe and secure fully-automated parcel lockers throughout Britain, enabling online shoppers to nominate one of the lockers as their delivery address, picking up their goods at a time that suits them, 24/7. The company already has over 1,000 parcel lockers nationwide, and plans to increase the total to 1,600 locations by the end of 2016.

The lockers are always positioned in high-footfall, well-lit areas with ample parking such as supermarkets, petrol stations, retail parks, and tube and train stations. When the parcel has arrived at the locker, consumers are notified via email and text with a unique numeric and QR code, enabling them to open their locker box and collect their goods in as little as seven seconds.

InPost had previously established that 71 per cent of UK postcodes were within five miles of one of its parcel lockers. However, as sales and marketing director Tony Kells comments: “This wasn’t ideal as we were looking for a more specific statistic that would allow us to make a stronger impact by underlining the ease of access to our lockers.”

The company had met the Mapmechanics team at a trade exhibition, and now asked them if they could come up with the required analysis. Working with some of the same software and data products it sells to other clients, Mapmechanics’ specialists were able to supply the data within a matter of days. “The turnround was impressive,” says Tony Kells.

Key resources applied to the task by Mapmechanics were the routing engine in Geoconcept, the digital mapping and geographic information system, and Ordnance Survey’s Meridian 2 vector (scalable) road network for Great Britain. With these, Mapmechanics was able to calculate the drivetime and distance from the centre of every postcode sector in the country to the nearest InPost locker location.

This data was supplied to InPost in spreadsheet form, allowing the company’s team to extract data on urban locations and calculate the average distance to a locker location for all urban consumers. Mapmechanics also supplied maps to help InPost staff  visualise the findings.

The result: as the InPost team hoped, it can now state with confidence that there is an InPost locker with two miles of all urban consumers in mainland Britain.

Since acquiring the raw data from Mapmechanics, InPost has also found it useful for other purposes. For instance, the information has helped to highlight areas where more lockers are needed. “And other departments have also been using it – for example, to generate ‘heat maps’ showing e-commerce hotspots,” Tony Kells says.

He says Mapmechanics’ consultancy approach was ideal for this project. “The Mapmechanics team immediately understood our requirement, and came up with exactly what we needed extremely quickly. We couldn’t have done that if we’d attempted it ourselves.”

By the end of the current year, when the number of lockers will have been increased significantly, Tony Kells says InPost expects to go back to Mapmechanics and ask for an updated analysis. “By then the average distance to a locker location for urban consumers will have been reduced even further.”

InPost’s UK business is a subsidiary of Polish-based Integer.pl, the country’s largest private postal group, which now has 4,000 fully automated parcel lockers globally.

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