The CEO of An Post says there's been an 'extraordinary boom' in online shopping amid the COVID-19 restrictions.
David McRedmond says more than 1.2 million parcels were delivered last week alone, which he says was a record for An Post and "more than at Christmas".
Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Mr McRedmond suggested there's great opportunities for small and medium sized Irish businesses who invest in their online efforts.
He told Ivan: “The funding for SMEs… have been particularly badly hit during this crisis. We want to move from being in crisis into a kind of recovery position, and to help SMEs where we can to get up and running - particularly online.
“There’s been an extraordinary boom in online shopping - we delivered 1.2 million parcels last week. That’s a record for us - it’s more than at Christmas.
"People are ordering huge amounts online, and Irish SMEs can do very, very well online - but they need to get online."
Mr McRedmond said An Post is introducing a number of measures to help SMEs, including launching a direct mail fund and reducing parcel prices by 25% until September.
On the subject of direct mail, he explained: “It’s addressed mail - so it will be written to you at your address. It will be marketing information - it’s up to you whether you decide that’s junk or not, but quite often it’s really useful.
“The thing about direct mail is it’s actually read - a lot of digital marketing, for example, isn’t."
'I cannot say enough about postpeople'
The An Post CEO also praised the work of staff across the postal service over the past number of weeks.
He observed: “I cannot say enough about postpeople.
"We only have four post offices closed out of 950, so it’s phenomenal how they’ve remained open.
"In terms of the delivery business… the sick absence is 10%. In the UK that’s at 20% in Royal Mail… some [in Europe] are as high as 25-30% sick absence.
“In terms of calling in on people and calling in on the elderly… [postpeople are] calling in on around 140,000 people a week. That [service] came from the postmen and postwomen saying they wanted to do that."
Earlier this year, An Post announced a plan to increase the price of stamps by 10c - a move that was postponed indefinitely in March amid the increasing COVID-19 restrictions.
Mr McRedmond defended the move, saying: “When you talk about the prices going up, that was to invest in the infrastructure - and if there’s one thing Ireland’s going to need post-COVID it’s investment in infrastructure.
“By putting the prices up of letters, we managed to build up a balance sheet that can take us through this period."