An Post plans 80,000 digital era letter boxes
IT IS a persistent problem for the online shopper - ordering a package but not being home when the postman calls.
But semi-state An Post believes it has found the solution.
The postal service has started on plans for the manufacture of up to 80,000 new delivery boxes.
The company has begun searching for a manufacturer to enter a three-year contract to manufacture new specialised boxes that will be placed at people's homes.
According to tender documents seen by the Herald, the agreement will consist of an initial supply of 10,000 boxes.
However, it said that the figure for requirements may be extended by 70,000 additional boxes in tranches of 10,000 units.
An Post said that the plan was a response to a steady growth in customers' online and catalogue shopping preferences and in anticipation of future growth.
Parcel delivery volume increased at the company by 22pc last year.
A trial scheme for prototype boxes in areas including Dublin was "very positive", according to An Post.
A spokeswoman said the new boxes should be available to households by the first quarter of next year.
"It will be available to anyone who wants one," she said.
The pricing structure for the boxes has yet to be determined, but the company has promised to keep the prices "as low as possible".
An Post has also specified that the boxes should be self- installable.
"We are now looking for expressions of interest from suppliers interested in working with us to perfect the design and produce top quality die-cast metal, secure delivery boxes," the spokeswoman said.
According to the tender, the boxes will allow for delivery of a range of different-sized mail items directly to a point that sits outside, but in close proximity to, a person's home.
Specifications have also been laid out for the size of the boxes.
The internal dimensions should allow for the storage of a package 37cm long, 25cm high and 16.5cm wide.
The winning design should also be able to withstand temperatures of between -5C and 35C and be secure against water.
The boxes will be designed in such a way that only the owner and An Post will be able to gain access.
It has been estimated that the value of Ireland's internet economy will grow from its current level of €8.4bn a year to €21.1bn by 2020, with consumer spending making up 60pc of this figure.
More than half of online spending by Irish consumers, goes to sites abroad.