Parcel shoppers pop down to the pod
Online shoppers can now arrange to have purchases delivered to high-tech "parcel pods" that New Zealand Post has installed in central Auckland and Wellington.
The pods work similarly to lockers in gyms and recreation centres in that they are shared between users and accessed using a code.
Spokesman John Tulloch said overseas experience showed many people found it quicker and more convenient to collect items from close to where they worked, rather than having couriers try to deliver parcels to their home.
That was especially true for working people and apartment dwellers who might be out and have nowhere for parcels to be securely left, travellers and people shopping secretly for gifts.
The pods cost $5 for three months' use.
That is cheaper than the minimum $135 annual cost of renting a traditional post office box, but the pods are restricted to parcels only. Customers get a unique code that they provide to retailers as part of their ParcelPod's delivery address when they order items online.
As soon as their parcel is delivered to a pod, they receive a text or email giving them the pod number and have two days to retrieve their item using a collection code that is also sent with the text or email.
More than 200 pods have been installed at Wellington Railway Station and Postshops at Victoria Street West and Botany Town in Auckland. Tulloch said the British-supplied pods had proved a hit in the UK since they were introduced there 10 years ago, and were now being used to collect 40 million parcels a year from 400 locations including Tesco supermarkets and railway stations.
Among the most enthusiastic customers were "fanboys" keen to get their hands on computer games and gadgets as soon as they arrived, he said.
Digital solutions head Simone Iles said 10,000 people had registered to use YouShop, another NZ Post service that is designed to make it easier for people to shop at overseas websites that don't ship to New Zealand or have high shipping fees.
It lets people have purchases sent instead to an NZ Post address in the US and then forwarded to their home.
YouShop had been used to ship more than six tonnes of packages to New Zealand since the service became available in September, Iles said.
New Zealand Post has pushed back the launch of digital mail service YouPost, through which people will be able to electronically receive and pay bills and securely receive other electronic mail from the likes of banks and utilities.
Digital solutions head Simone Iles said YouPost was now being tested and NZ Post hoped to launch it in the first half of next year.
A partnership with the Transport Agency would mean people who registered for the free service would get electronic reminders when they needed to renew warrants of fitness for their vehicles. Kiwibank is also understood to be keen on the service.
Banks are effectively unable to communicate with customers using regular email because of the prevalence of fraudulent emails used to conduct "phishing" attacks.
YouPost will be NZ Post's second attempt to establish itself as a "one stop shop" for bill payment, following the slow demise of its under-used eBill service which was scrapped in 2006, seven years after its fanfare launch.
NZ Post had originally hoped to launch YouPost this year.