09/17/2013 03:54 EDT | Updated 11/17/2013 05:12 EST

Canada Post pledges same-day delivery for online shoppers

Canada Post is rolling out same-day delivery in the Toronto region for online shoppers.

The service is a pilot project by the Crown corporation working with Wal-Mart Canada Corp., Best Buy Canada Ltd., Future Shop and Indigo Books & Music Inc.,

Rod Hart, general manager for domestic parcels and e-commerce development at Canada Post, said parcel delivery and aligning with online shopping is an important growth area for the post office.

“We know that Canadians want more choice on where and when they receive things, so when we approached retailers we said ‘what do you want us working on?’ and this whole concept of delivering things when people are home in the evening was one that resonated well,” he said.

Canada Post charges the retailers for the service. The retailers offer everything from books to televisions to clothing to diapers with same-day delivery if ordered before a certain time.

Only the service for Wal-Mart products is free – anyone ordering from the other retailers pays $13.95 for the service.

The cutoff times for ordering and seeing a package delivered the same day range from 11 a.m. at Best Buy to 12.30 p.m. at Indigo. Canada Post is promising delivery by 9 p.m.

“We established a price for the retailers – what they choose to charge their shoppers is up to them,” Hart said in an interview with CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange.

Hart said the post office aims to expand the service to other major urban areas, if the pilot is successful.

"In testing, we want to see if online shoppers actually embrace it. Will consumers really change their behaviour because they can order something before lunchtime, in the morning and have it delivered that day sometime between 5.30 and 9?" he said.

Canada Post is losing money on regular mail service and reported a $104-million loss in August for the 2nd quarter. Efforts to cut costs and streamline operations were not enough to make up for lower mail volumes.

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“We have to change, we know that,” Hart said, but he believes traditional mail will not disappear altogether, just diminish as the post office develops as a parcel delivery business.

The pilot project, which began Tuesday, is to extend through the critical Christmas shopping season and will take advantage of trucks and depots that are not currently being used to capacity.