I have to say I wasn’t feeling that good about being forced to use the Collect+ service to return my Amazon package. Although I expect nothing but greatness when it comes to Amazon, I did wonder how it could possibly match my standard (super-high) expectations of Amazon.
I shouldn’t have worried, I really shouldn’t.
Here’s the background: Over the Christmas period I ordered a big noticeboard for the office via Amazon. I buy everything I can on Amazon, primarily because of the purchase experience and the predictability. Unfortunately when the product arrived one of the corners was seriously damaged.
I did a few clicks on Amazon and — boom — they instructed me to print out a returns label. No bother, I thought.
It was only when I continued reading that I saw the mention of Collect+.
Here’s the Collect+ overview from their website:
Collect+ is a new parcel service delivering freedom and convenience, not just parcels. We have built a network of over 5,000 local corner shops, open from early ‘til late and often 7 days a week, allowing you to drop off or pick up parcels at a time and place that suits you.
I did wonder. This all sounds good but what’s the actual user experience when you head into the local corner shop? Especially when you arrive with a huge noticeboard-sized package?
I stuck the return label on the package and put some selotape over it to protect from the elements. Thoughtful, I reckoned.
Then I checked for my nearest local shop. Even on a Sunday it was open until 6pm. I arrived at the Spar mini supermarket and I had to take a moment behind the car wheel to mentally prepare myself for the consumer horror I was potentially about to be exposed to. I could picture the scene and it wasn’t pretty. I was mostly thinking about the possibility of a totally disinterested employee telling me words to the effect of “I dunno what you mean”.
I did see a PayPoint sign on the wall of the shop as I did the mental preparation. On that sign, bottom right, was a Collect+ logo. So I wouldn’t feel totally stupid trying to explain what I wanted. At least I could respond with, “Well, there’s a Collect+ logo on the sign outside” when challenged by the fictional shop assistant.
I did feel rather strange walking into the shop with a package. It’s not the standard user experience, you see. One or two other shoppers stared as I waited to be served at the… well… the payment concession bit. I didn’t see any Collect+ branding but I did see the PayPoint machine which, I began to understand, seemed to be the glue that underpins everything.
It was my turn shortly.
“Hi, I’d like to drop this off,” I said, nodding to the package.
“Oh sure,” said the shop assistant chap, “Just bring it round here.”
He took the package from me and then explained he just needed to scan the barcode and give me a tracking number.
I was thinking of some handwritten scrawl on a used Bounty wrapper — that was the model in my mind — but no, the shop had a proper machine. And everything
He scanned the barcode and the machine duly printed out a receipt with the tracking ID.
“Thanks very much,” the chap said, handing me the receipt.
I thanked the guy and walked away, wondering why I had ever doubted Amazon’s smart thinking executives.
It was utterly simple.
I’ve got my proof of delivery. As far as I’m concerned, job done. The shop assistant explained that apparently a Collect+ truck will arrive tomorrow morning and pick up the package.
I’m impressed with the Collect+ service. I might even give it a shot with some deliveries. You can opt to have items delivered to your local corner shop rather than your home address which makes a TON of sense if you’re out all day or if you can’t stand getting one of those notes through the door from the postman.
The place I selected today is open from 730am until 8pm daily, however the nearest Collect+ place to me is actually a service station… which is open 24-hours a day. Absolute genius. I doubt very much that you can actually walk into the store with a package to return (or pick up) at 4am in the morning as service station places usually swap to doing business through “the window”, don’t they? I’ll need to check.
Thank you Amazon. Thank you also to Collect+ team for creating such a seamless service.