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Technology and change in postal services – impacts on consumers

4 March 2016

Citizens Advice has been looking at what the future may bring as technology changes the way that consumers benefit from post and the services it provides.  

Our  research into the impact of technology conducted by postal sector experts WIK Consult and ITA Consulting explores the pace of change in areas like barcoding, GPS capabilities and internet based applications.

The findings explore the wide ranging impacts of technology on the development of postal services including how postal carriers operate, as well as the opportunities and risks of these changes on different consumer groups across Great Britain. The findings include:

  • The spread of the internet and mobile devices has empowered consumers and transformed them from passive to active participants in the postal services market.

  • While online savvy urban consumers will have increasing choice for delivery options from parcel operators as well as access to services such as same day or even one hour delivery services, some groups of consumers are being left out of these options.

  • Consumers might not always be aware of liability issues when using shared or crowdsourced delivery services. As these services become more popular, the number of complaints and cases requiring application of liability rules could increase.

  • In order to gain from tailored offers and improved delivery options, consumers will need to reveal more personal information to e-retailers and parcel carriers potentially putting sensitive data at risk.

  • New technologies are being tested and developed, such as drone deliveries, 3D printing and peer to peer delivery networks, many of which could result in further service options.

Technology and change in postal services – impacts on consumers [ 2.4 mb] sets out recommendations for ways to ensure that we can monitor rapid changes in the postal sector that are being driven by digitalisation in order to advocate on behalf of consumers and offer appropriate support and advice.