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Mailboxes to meal boxes: La Poste’s surprising shift

Mailboxes to meal boxes: La Poste's surprising shift
Mailboxes to meal boxes: La Poste's surprising shift

France’s iconic postal service, La Poste, is adapting to the digital age by shifting focus from delivering letters to bringing hot meals to people’s doorsteps. This pivot comes as the demand for traditional mail services declines. 

By betting big on food delivery, the post office is keeping its 65,000-strong workforce relevant and employed in the years to come.

Letters out, food delivery in

La Poste CEO Philippe Wahl told the French Senate they are “committed to public service missions,” despite being under pressure. He says letter and parcel deliveries have dropped from 70% of their business in 1990 to 15% in 2024.

Since the post office is already dedicated to carrying out 10% of food deliveries nationwide, the shift from letters to meals is a no-brainer. As it stands, post office drivers already deliver some 15,000 to elderly residents, per day. 

Wahl believes food deliveries will be “the top activity for postal workers by 2035.” More than five million meals were delivered during 2023, and France’s postal service is determined to reach the 10-million mark this year.

Watch: Wahl addressing Senate

He says the meal delivery service “is developing at very high speed. [It] establishes the basis of an architecture of local services, which the Government and the legislator will decide to use to promote other services.”

La Poste delivering hope

In the company’s recent Mission Committee report, Wahl explains that “businesses are actors for progress and social change.” As such, a business’s goal should be to “improve our living standards but, equally, to have an impact on the environment.” 

He says La Poste is “committing to making an impact across our entire ecosystem, broadening our notion of value and sharing that value.”

As of 2023, the postal service supported more than 248,500 members of France’s aging population in various ways. 

These include:

  • Visits from postal delivery workers to assist with tasks. 
  • Digital tools to help people maintain their independence. 
  • Promoting accessible services.
  • Education and equal opportunities programs.

La Poste’s digital age pivot

La Poste – currently the biggest player in domestic parcel delivery – is implementing a slew of initiatives as it adapts to the times. Earlier this year, the postal service trialed in-store changing rooms in several of its branches. 

Since online shopping is often coupled with the frustration of ordering something in the wrong size, the changing rooms reduce consumers’ hassle. When they collect a parcel, they can try on their clothing items, and easily return the parcel if the item doesn’t fit. 

La Poste is also committed to decarbonizing last-mile delivery since approximately 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from urban logistics. The delivery plan, facilitated through the postal service’s Colissimo brand, includes the creation of ‘urban logistics spaces’ (ELU).

ELUs are situated around busy city centers – Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lyon, Grand Paris, Montpellier, Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, and others – and will facilitate 100% carbon-free deliveries by cargo bikes and electric vehicles.

What advancements lie ahead? Wahl said artificial intelligence is “an opportunity for transformation.” Traditional letter services are on the decline, but postal workers refuse to “see it as a calamity. The same goes for AI.” Thousands of postal workers have undergone AI training. 

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/ François Goglins

About the author

Cheryl has contributed to various international publications, with a fervor for data and technology. She explores the intersection of emerging tech trends with logistics, focusing on how digital innovations are reshaping industries on a global scale. When she's not dissecting the latest developments in AI-driven innovation and digital solutions, Cheryl can be found gaming, kickboxing, or navigating the novel niches of consumer gadgetry.

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