The Royal Mail is to launch a click-and-collect service at its branches aimed at online retailers and their customers.

The firm said it will be the biggest service of its kind, with post offices staying open longer so goods can be collected.

Royal Mail Parcels managing director Nick Landon said: “Royal Mail is a key partner for online retailers and we are well placed to benefit from the growth in e-retailing.

“The click-and-collect initiative will help online retailers give shoppers even greater control over the delivery of their items. We are committed to developing services to ensure we meet the changing demands of online retailers and their customers.”

However, Sophie Albizua, co-founder of multichannel consultancy the eNova Partnership was sceptical about the service. She said: “The click-and-collect service for online retailers already has a name, it’s called The Post Office! However, whoever has queued on a Saturday morning to get a parcel knows that unless the service proposition and opening hours dramatically improve, there is little change to the existing proposition.

Customers choose click and collect for its convenience, and are pretty demanding when it comes to service - click-and-collect booths need to be clearly visible, with a maximum waiting time of five minutes, and open late and weekends.”

The Royal Mail launch comes on the back of the success of services such as Collect+, which offers a network of more than 5,000 convenience stores to pick up online orders and has more than 200 retailer clients.