Canada Post has launched an experiment to watch its own future unfold with a new test store that banks heavily on making its service a better way to help Canadians shop online.
In the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, the Crown corporation recently opened an experimental store in an open air mall that boasts several innovations. Far from being a staid place where people line up to buy stamps, Canada Post calls the location a "parcel-pickup centre" that could be a model for how future post offices look.
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The facility boasts a drive-thru area for picking up packages -— something the mail service says is a first in North America.
There are also self-service kiosks, open 24/7, where people can send their own packages faster and more easily.
There are even change rooms, so shoppers can try on clothes they've ordered online and easily return them if they don't like the fit. The official unveiling is Oct. 29, and more similar locations are planned, but the Richmond Hill location is open and running.
It's all part of Canada Post's push to modernize itself and capitalize on the growing e-commerce market.
"This concept store is like a 'lab,' where we are testing various new features for customers as they gravitate more and more toward online shopping," Canada Post spokeswoman Anick Losier said.
In addition to a drastic retrenchment from its core business of home letter delivery, Canada Post is competing with private carriers and retailers who are moving quickly to give customers what they want — fast, cheap and dependable delivery of parcels full of goods they purchased online.
"The fitting room is a novel concept for online shoppers who want to try and return as quickly as possible," Losier said. "The feedback so far has been very positive."