Students and Graduates

Students Designed a Deposit Bottle Return Service Combined with Prisma’s Grocery Home Deliveries

In the spring of 2021, Posti challenged Aalto University students to innovate ways to make everyday life easier for consumers. The challenge arose from Posti's desire to provide excellent customer experience while improving sustainability as one of the core values of service. In a busy everyday life, in addition to saving time, consumers need environmentally conscious, convenient, and affordable services. As a task, a group of students were asked to explore creative ways to provide reverse logistics services to customers utilizing the home delivery of groceries.

In the spring of 2021, a total of 11 companies and 47 students participated in Aalto University's IDBM international design management program. Posti, as Aalto University's partner company, was also present. The X Labs steering group of Posti's Parcel and eCommerce business was honored to spar with a multidisciplinary group of students who took up the challenge. The members of the group had a diverse background in design, business management and software development.

At the beginning of the project, students Kirsti Kaila, Zachary Rubens, Hyun Lee and Konsta Mäenpää explored the possibilities of a service environment built around home deliveries and further envisioned future reverse logistics solutions. The team was asked to provide a service solution that would be attractive to the customer, technically feasible and viable from a business point of view.

Aalto University students devised and designed a deposit bottle return service that works with the home delivery of the online grocery store. Customers who ordered groceries online had the opportunity to hand over their accumulated recyclable deposit bottles to the Posti driver during the home delivery. The deposit money was transferred to the customers after the delivery was processed in a Prisma store. The innovations of the IDBM course collaboration were completed in May 2021.

After the program collaboration ended, Kirsti Kaila continued as Posti's summer intern as a project manager. She was given the responsibility to advance the idea formed in IDBM student cooperation with the support of Parcel and eCommerce Business Manager Tuomo Tarvainen, responsible for the pilot. “The summer internship at Posti offered a great opportunity to put the idea into practice and get valuable experience to utilize in my own master's thesis”, Kirsti describes and adds, “I’m very pleased with the engaged cooperation with Posti and the partners during both the innovation challenge and the piloting.”

In a pilot carried out in July-August 2021, Posti, SOK, Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa and Prisma Koivistonkylä worked closely together. The provision of the bottle return service to customers was tested in Tampere and Pirkkala in the online grocery store home delivery area of Prisma Koivistonkylä. Innovation cooperation continued since the spring with Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa, carried on all the way through piloting. In total, a large group of Posti workers from both Helsinki and Tampere working with online grocery delivery participated in the preparation and implementation of the pilot. Posti delivery process proved to be very agile in the new experiment.

Technological development is expected to provide more interesting ways to implement reverse logistics services in the future. The excellent student project gave Posti a lot of new information, which will be utilized both in the development of reverse logistics processes and in customer cooperation. Together with its partners and stakeholders, Posti continues agile development work to produce the best customer experience.

“At Post we were impressed by the ability of the Aalto University IDBM course to create both an overall proposal for a way forward in return logistics and a proposal for a pilot project. Kirsti then did a very commendable job as a project manager, both as a member of the business team and in managing a demanding development project. In this way, Posti was able to gather the desired empirical data for further development of reverse logistics. Managing a pilot of this kind is not straightforward, as there are dozens of people involved through internal and external stakeholders”, Tuomo acknowledges.

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