Case: Box – premises for more sustainable e-commerce in the heart of Helsinki


In November 2019, we opened new premises focused on e-commerce for consumer customers and online retailers on Keskuskatu in Helsinki. This new initiative is aimed at stronger growth in e-commerce.

The new premises are equipped with fitting rooms, a giant parcel locker and a digital kiosk. Box is also a physical store for online retailers and a testing space for our new digital services.

Posti has been part of people’s daily life for centuries. But daily life has changed. This is also reflected in our core business. Letter volumes continue to decline, while the number of parcels ordered online keeps growing. At the same time, the growth in parcel traffic creates a burden on the environment. This is a challenge that we aim to solve by investing in the sustainability of our business.

Box by Posti is a great example of this, as the environmental perspective has been an important part of the development of the Box concept.

“The new space on Keskuskatu is an accurate illustration of the historically quick change of e-commerce and Posti. The growth of B2C and C2C e-commerce means that more than 80 percent of our customers use our service points to pick up or send parcels. This is why we need to change. Box by Posti is our response to the growth of e-commerce and to the new consumption habits of people in Finland. Box by Posti is a great example of Posti’s renewal. We are shedding our skin and rethinking our role between our customers: between online retailers and consumers and also between consumers in C2C commerce,” says Posti’s Head of Customer Experience and Channels Kaisa Ilola.

In Finland, households receive around 10 parcels per year. In Central Europe, however, the figure is twice as high and, in the US, it is three times as high. As the e-commerce sector grows, the volume of parcels is also expected to increase. The change is visible also on Keskuskatu. Many traditional retailers are also accumulating a growing share of their net sales from e-commerce.

You emphasise sustainability when you talk about Box by Posti.

Isn’t sustainability incompatible with e-commerce, with people ordering parcels from sellers far away? We do not believe there is a conflict. Quite the opposite. Contrary to popular belief, emissions from e-commerce transport do not significantly differ from those generated by other types of retail.

Consumers can influence things by making sustainable purchasing decisions and choosing the right delivery type. Regardless of whether the consumer buys the product from an online store or a physical store, the transport route of products from the country of origin to Finland is essentially the same.

Why are there fitting rooms at Box by Posti?

The buying habits of Finnish consumers are changing: physical stores are disappearing while online stores are growing. People are buying more and more clothes, in particular, from online retailers and via C2C channels.

Products are primarily transported to Finland in the same way, regardless of whether the consumer buys the product from an online store or brick-and-mortar store. Goods are transported from the country of manufacture to Finland by truck or ship, for instance, often via intermediate stops.

Unnecessary returns increase emissions from e-commerce as well as the consumption of packaging material. Online stores can reduce the number of returns by giving enough information about their products and offering services such as virtual fitting rooms.

Finns return a smaller share of online purchases than consumers in other countries. The share of returns strongly depends on the product group. For example, up to 50 percent of clothing is returned, whereas the share of returns for electronics is only 1–2 percent.

We provide fitting rooms and the opportunity to return products at Box by Posti. This makes it easy to return clothing that does not fit. This reduces emissions.

Why is Box by Posti located in the city center?

Consumers can significantly influence their climate impact. From the climate perspective, it makes sense to favor low-emission means of transport for picking up parcels or pick up parcels when going grocery shopping, for example. This is why Box by Posti is in the city center, on the pedestrian street, close to the routes that people take on a daily basis.

Any customer of Posti can have their order delivered to Box by Posti and pick it up, for instance, on their way to work or when they go shopping in the city center. The purpose of Box by Posti is to make it as easy as possible to pick up and send items bought and sold online by providing these premises in the city center, where people commute and go shopping. This enables a significant reduction in emissions.

Why is space provided in Box by Posti for opening parcels and packaging items in boxes?

The most important reason is that this makes it easier for people to use the services but, again, the environmental perspective is also involved. New boxes were designed for the Box by Posti concept. They are made from an eco-friendly and durable material. They can be used over and over again. There is also previously used packaging always available at Box by Posti. Sustainability in packaging also means that we help consumers reduce the amount of packaging waste they generate by encouraging our customers to reuse packaging materials.