The Rise of the Parcel Locker

As demand for online shopping continues to grow, consumers are looking for more efficient ways to receive parcels. Customers are now ordering items from anyone, anywhere at any time. Whether it’s phone chargers from China, books from Britain or fresh produce from the local grocery store online shopping is now the norm.

Many customers aren’t at home at the time when deliveries are scheduled to receive parcels and it is becoming increasingly frustrating to have other aspects in the supply chain, including sourcing, packing and distribution, run efficiently and effectively to then be faced with a lengthy and inconvenient aspect. Particularly once the parcel has, in theory, reached the customer’s home.

One option is to leave the parcel in a ‘safe place’, but this is problematic for both the consumer, retailer and logistics company. Who is at fault is it if a parcel goes missing from a consumer’s home? Who pays for parcel theft? Is it the logistics provider or the retailer? What happens if the consumer is lying about whether the parcel ever arrived? What about weather conditions? Valuable objects?

The relationship with the consumer and retailer can be tarnished when a customer has a bad delivery experience, an astonishing 38 per cent of US consumers would elect to withdraw their loyalty from a retailer again following a bad delivery experience according to MetaPack’s Delivering Consumer Choice report. The importance of getting this last part of the transaction right is a top priority for many shoppers.

A solution to many of these issues could be the parcel locker. Parcel lockers are automated storage systems that can securely store packages for consumers at their homes. They reduce the risk of parcel theft, re-delivery attempts and lost packages. They have many benefits for the consumer as well as increased transparency and reliability for logistics providers.

The big players in the logistics industry are developing solutions in this space, with Amazon launching Amazon Key, a service that allows Amazon couriers to open the front door and put the package safely inside the home. DHL has also trialled delivering items straight into a customer’s car. Though recent developments may mean that one day goods are delivered straight into your home David Jinks. Head of Consumer Research at ParcelHero, an online courier company, believes that right now it’s all about the parcel locker. “The locker is the most convenient option for hard pressed consumers who can’t afford to take time off to wait for an important package. Couriers and retailers who fail to embrace the growing move to parcel lockers will lose out significantly,” David says.

With last-mile delivery customers are looking for convenience and reliability and providers are looking for ways to cut costs and increase efficiency. Parcel lockers are a growing option in this area with a number of home-grown developments worth watching.