Singapore

SingPost's aim: a post office in every HDB block

SingPost to grow network of POPStation parcel lockers, looking into offering food, medicine and grocery services

A post office under every Housing Board block, operating at all hours of the day, may one day become reality if SingPost has its way.

It plans to grow its network of POPStation parcel lockers, which may eventually double as unmanned post offices, SingPost group chief executive Paul Coutts told The Straits Times.

Food, medicine and grocery services may also be on the cards as the postal service shifts its focus toward e-commerce and becoming a last-mile logistics powerhouse.

But for a start, getting its lockers into HDB blocks and MRT stations in Singapore will help to make deliveries more efficient while reducing reliance on manpower, he said.

"We would be able to take a lot of transport off the road during the day and deliver products into the locker system overnight," said Mr Coutts, 61.

"Instead of waiting all day for the driver, consumers can go to the locker to pick up the package and put it back in and return it if they don't like it."

There are 160 POPStation lockers across the island, which are used to collect, return and ship parcels through SingPost's network.

SingPost is working on the technology to develop its locker infrastructure into "unmanned post offices", he said.

A pilot unmanned post office opened at Sun Plaza in Sembawang in May, featuring a 24-hour self-service area with POPStation lockers, upgraded SAM machines offering remittance and other postal services, and a self-drop box for registered articles.

"We're taking the post office to the community, not waiting for the community to come to the post office. That's where I want to try and reposition the company," he said.

Mr Coutts joined SingPost in June last year, after former group chief executive Wolfgang Baier resigned a year and a half earlier. During that time, the company was plagued by corporate governance issues, falling profits and leadership changes.

He spent his first two months on the job getting input from staff, including couriers and customer service officers.

"One concern that we heard from a number of sources was that we had lost focus on Singapore. They were worried about the emergence of some of the start-ups coming into the market and whether they would have the same job security."

ALIBABA

SingPost, which is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, embarked on a strategy of leveraging its extensive postal infrastructure to go after the e-commerce market more aggressively, he said.

As mail volume continues to fall, 60 per cent of SingPost's revenue today comes from e-commerce, a share that is expected to "dramatically grow".

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