Package delivery giant United Parcel Service Inc. is moving further into rural areas that are underserved in the era of e-commerce.

The Atlanta-based company said Wednesday it’s adding 1,500 pickup and drop-off locations at small businesses primarily located in rural cities and towns across the U.S by year-end. It’s through its Access Point program, where UPS pays local merchants a small fee to act as a package pickup location. The move will increase those locations to more than 22,000 this year. The initiative is part of an overall strategy by UPS to respond to the growth of online shopping and pressures for speedy delivery and returns.

With this move, 92% of the U.S. population will be within five miles of a UPS Access Point location. Robin Hooker, UPS’s director of global product innovation, told the AP that the expanded locations will give shoppers more control of picking and sending packages, while small businesses benefit from increased customer traffic in their stores.

Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer of Publicis Communications, says rural areas are even more dependent on e-commerce as more retailers close stores in those areas.

“It’s important to continue to build out infrastructure,” he added.

Last year, UPS added 12,000 new package pickup locations inside CVS, Michaels and Advance Auto Parts stores.


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