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Zalando Tests ‘Social Delivery’ for Danish E-Commerce

Zalando customers in Denmark have a new, ultra-convenient option for picking up and returning their e-commerce orders.

The European retailer and PostNord, its carrier in Denmark, collaborated on the formation of a new program that turns the homes of private citizens into pick-up and drop-off points for customers.

The pilot program launched this July with 50 participating community members (known as “Din Nabo,” or “your neighbor”) in selected zip codes in Aarhus and Copenhagen. Zalando’s Dutch partner, Homerr, manages the network of Din Nabo.

Since launch, the program has proven wildly popular with customers, almost all of whom (95 percent) said they received excellent service during their pickup or return.

“First learnings from the pilot test indicate that the concept will function even better in rural areas,” said Remko Bakker, lead of logistics platform services at Zalando in a statement. He explained that with fewer stores in these areas (and limited operating hours for the ones that do exist), the need for convenient pick-up and drop-off locations is even greater than in more trafficked, urban areas.

In addition to providing a convenient experience for Zalando shoppers, the program also aims to cut the retailer’s carbon footprint. Having designated drop-off and pick-up points allows Zalando to bundle orders and send them to fewer addresses, making for more convenient delivery routes and less pressure on last-mile logistics.

Bakker said that the company’s preliminary findings indicated that “proximity, opening hours and accessibility” were the most important criteria when deciding on the locations of pick-up points.

Throughout the Danish pilot’s run, Zalando found that the vast majority (85 percent) of customers said they valued the program because of the Din Nabos’ proximity to their homes or workplaces, while more than half (57 percent) also said they were likely to use the service because of its benefits to the environment. More than one third of customers (42 percent) said they supported the program because of its social impact (Din Nabo receive a small commission for managing the packages), and 15 percent said they were drawn to the service because of the convenient hours of availability.

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When it comes to expanding the program to other service areas, Zalando is taking a “wait-and-see” approach. While Din Nabo hubs have been successful in Denmark so far, Bakker said that cultural differences across countries and regions must be taken into account.

“We strive to tailor our convenience propositions to each market based on our deep customer knowledge,” he explained. “We found that the concept of having your parcel delivered to your neighbors, if you can’t accept it in person, is more common in Germany and the Netherlands…. French customers prefer delivery to the next post office. For Danish customers, a safe place or pickup station is the most preferred alternative solution,” he said.

Still, he said, “Social delivery and return points have the potential to simplify the e-commerce experience and offer better customer convenience.”

The company will continue to assess the program’s popularity throughout the month of October, and then decide if and when to expand into other markets.