How to start a parcel pick-up point

Is opening a pick-up point for parcels a good way to attract new customers? Or a lot of hard work for little money? This is what you should expect when setting yourself up as a pick-up point.

Online shopping is bigger than ever, with consumers buying from online stores and platforms such as, Amazon, Marktplaats, Zalando, and Vinted. While delivery services such as PostNL, DHL, DPD, UPS, Mondial Relay, and GLS are working overtime. Customers who are not at home or deliberately choose to pick up their order pick up their parcel at pick-up points in bookshops, petrol stations, tobacco shops, and supermarkets.

How much will I earn operating a pick-up point?

You will earn an amount of between 20 and 50 cents per parcel or dropped off item. Some companies use a sliding scale or performance-based bonus. The more parcels you process, the more you will earn. You will hear mixed reviews about how satisfied entrepreneurs are about their earnings (in Dutch). Annemieke Hulsman of The Readshop in Heino runs a PostNL service point. Her take on it: “I do not just handle parcels; I also run a post office and fill a role in the community. And even though I only receive a modest amount of money, it all adds up. And the money I make from the service point is enough to cover my annual staff costs.”

Floris van Holten, Business Developer at e-commerce company Wish, believes there are other, less obvious advantages to operating a pick-up point. “It means you are visible online and people will be able to find you, which will increase footfall for your shop. I always tell entrepreneurs it is up to them to use their brain: know your customer profile and give customers what they are looking for. For example, you could offer them fun little gadgets at a low price. Be creative in your presentation style and entice the customer to buy something.”

What sort of costs will I incur?

While you will earn money, you will also be required to make certain investments.

  • you will pay more in banking fees and charges due to the additional POS transactions.
  • you will have to inves in storage space (including racks and extra locks).
  • Your insurance premiums will go up, including for fire, flooding, and burglary.
  • Depending on the parcel volumes you will be handling, you will need to invest in a larger service desk or buy an additional cash register.
  • One thing you will want to avoid is having parcels lined up or piled up inside your business, as this will only scare away ‘regular’ customers. You may also decide to hire new staff to help you handle the parcels more efficiently.

Which delivery service will be my business partner?

Delivery services set certain requirements for affiliated service points, including specific opening hours, the accessibility of the building, and the size of the storage facility. Find out what the terms are of the various delivery services operating in the Netherlands. Be sure to take note of the following:

  • Payment terms. How long before I get paid?
  • Exclusivity. Am I entitled to work for other delivery services?
  • Notice period. If you intend to terminate the contract, how does this work and how much notice do I need to give?

Ask other entrepreneurs who have been operating a pick-up point for some time about their experiences.

Do I need to be a retail outlet?

While parcel pick-up points are a common sight in retail shops, you do not actually need to be a retailer to provide this service. Van Holten: “A shop may be an obvious location, but in reality the type of business does not really matter. You can operate a pick-up point if you run a hair salon, travel agency, DIY store, self-storage company, or even a hotel.” We are also seeing the emergence of innovative concepts such as Homerr and ViaTim, where people can also pick up their parcels from private homes and independent contractors working from home.

What do I need to organise with KVK?

If your business is branching out into other areas, you should notify KVK. You can register any additional activities you might take on in the Business Register. For example, your core business might be book and magazine retail, and then you might have a sideline in online book and magazine sales, as well as operating a pick-up point for parcels.

This way, you make sure your KVK registration is up-to-date. This is important because it may have consequences for insurance premiums, licences, government collective agreements, and subsidies. Registering a new business activity is free of charge and can be done online.

What else do I need to keep in mind?

Hulsman and Van Holten have several other tips to share if you are considering opening a pick-up point:

1. Learn by doing

As Hulsman explains, speed and efficiency are skills anyone can learn and improve. “Make sure you know the plan of action before you get started. You can take classes online, but I would always advise people to learn by doing, and make sure you can see how it is done. That way, you will get the hang of it right away by the time you open your pick-up point, which will help gain customers’ trust. You should also make sure that, amid all the extra traffic, you can find the time to assist other people in your shop, because you should not neglect your customers, who also need attention and advice.”

2. Think about size and quantity

“Most of the parcels we process at Wish are relatively small, but do not forget that there can be a lot of dragging things around: rolled-up carpets, kitty litter in bulk packaging, even a toilet bowl... these are just one of the many items you will be expected to handle,” Van Holten says. “Businesses often serve as pick-up points for several delivery services. We are talking about large numbers of parcels arriving throughout the day and which you then need to hand over to customers.”

3. Look to the future

During the coronavirus pandemic, people discovered what it was like to pick out items at home, pay for them online, and then pick them up in the shop (‘click and collect’). Online business platform De Ondernemer expects consumers to continue to pick up in-store in the future:

If you have any questions as an entrepreneur, the KVK Advice Team is here to help.