In this day and age when the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a solid part of the daily life of urbanites who look for convenience and swiftness in all matters, e-commerce has likewise become part of routine activities of urbanites who like to shop but are not willing to waste time sitting in traffic or hunting for parking space in posh department stores in the heart of Bangkok. This explains why e-commerce has been growing steadily. Most business owners try to have access to their customers via social media and word of mouth marketing. While advertisements and public relations prove essential commercial tools, accurate and safe delivery (business-to-consumer or B2C) is no less important.
Have you ever wanted to buy online and have goods delivered to your home but no one is there to receive the goods or sign the delivery note/receipt or requested that the goods be delivered in the mailbox but they disappeared without a trace? Home delivery poses a challenge to e-commerce business in Europe, USA as well as Japan. Such a major corporation as the United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) has experienced cases where its delivery trucks were tracked and packages stolen the instant they were placed at the end-customers’ doorsteps. With the problem occurring downstream, the upstream operators such as business owners and logistics service providers along with their business partners are compelled to jointly find a solution to fill the gap in their respective businesses. That was the start of the parcel locker concept, an innovation as well as a new alternative as far as 24/7, convenient and safe delivery is concerned.
In the cases of logistics service providers and the post office which find themselves in the middle of supply chain, “Parcel Locker” services are provided to general customers, retail shops and marketplace sellers such as Etsy or eBay, goods must be delivered to receivers at the destination as if via automated mailboxes with the application of IT as facilitating agent. An example of this is InPost co.uk – a company that provides postal services – that has come up with nation-wide automated parcel lockers in filling stations, department stores and supermarkets in the U.K. The company operates under the click-and-collect concept in providing 24/7 service involving the collectors’ lockers and delivery to the destinations within three to five days.
InPost Parcel Locker service users can follow the following simple procedure:
To mail a parcel to the second party: The service user prepares his parcel to be mailed; books a locker through website ‘InPost Direct’; prints the online InPost Label which is to be affixed on the parcel; places it in the nearest InPost Locker; and follows the steps shown on touch screen for delivery (the label must be scanned to open the locker). The entire process takes only seven minutes. The parcel is delivered to the receiver within three to five days.
To receive goods ordered online:
In placing the order online, the service user chooses to receive the goods from the nearest InPost Locker. The confirmation message by InPost is to be sent to his cell phone or e-mail address. To receive the goods, he needs only to go to the designated locker and follow the steps shown on touch screen (stating his cell phone number and receipt pin code or scanning the QR Code).
Delivery fee, meanwhile, is not as high as you might expect as it depends on the number of parcels and frequency required. For instance, for a retail shop wanting to ship less than 1,000 pieces of goods per month with the total weight not exceeding 20 kg, the delivery fee will come to approx. £ 4.5 per piece whereas the shops that need to ship more items will end up paying less. Each InPost Locker station provides between 47 – 72 lockers while some of them can be rented out to retail shops with e-commerce business where their customers must pick up goods at the lockers to ensure property safety given the lockers’ concrete base to safeguard against theft or plunder on the one hand and the automation system requiring the ‘private code’ for the receiver/sender in the opening/closing of the locker. InPost presently provides services in 17 countries worldwide involving more than 240,000 lockers to accommodate more than one million registered service users.
A further example involves Amazon.com that allows its online customers the option of receiving the goods they have ordered through Amazon Locker service available at large supermarkets such as Walmart or Best Buy located throughout the U.S. free of charge. In so doing, Amazon can considerably cut down on delivery expense as general couriers such as UPS and FedEx charge it as well as retail shops with e-commerce business more than 20% additional delivery fee for home delivery to end customers. This is because bulk delivery to a single destination can be more effectively managed in the context of logistics system than delivery of a smaller quantity but to multiple destinations.
Given the steady growth in e-commerce business and the ever changing consumer trends, we are bound to see a new logistics model as a result of business owners’ attempt to adjust and adapt themselves as they begin to locate business partners who would jointly seek the solution to be able to squarely, effectively and sustainably address the needs of their customers.
Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics
Reference and picture inpost.co.uk, thisismoney.co.uk, wsj.com