Parcel lockers—automated delivery points from which customers can collect or return e-commerce packages, 24 hours a day—are proliferating worldwide. Rather than waiting for deliveries at home, customers arrange collection from a nearby parcel locker, where they enter a code into an ATM-like machine, triggering access to a locker containing their package. Stationed at convenient locations like train stations or petrol stations, locker networks (as they’re also known) provide a convenient alternative to home delivery or PUGO points with fixed opening hours.

Demand
It’s understandable that many e-tailers embrace the chance to offer an innovative alternative to home delivery when you consider that two-fifths of online shoppers said a troublesome delivery often deterred them from further purchases, according to a 2012 survey by UK association Interactive Media in Retail Group. And it is no challenge for delivery providers to find local businesses at optimal geographic points (e.g., near transport nodes and densely populated locations) willing to host and manage parcel lockers.

The rise of m-commerce, more frequent promotions and competitive service-level agreements are creating more peak periods for e-tailers, fuelling demand for a wider range of delivery methods.

Cost efficient
Parcel lockers that use automated processes ease order backlogs and pressure during peak periods, meaning delivery providers can offer e-tailers even more value-added services.

Parcel lockers can also reduce negative consumer experiences. Because they are less reliant on manual processes, the automated system is in turn less vulnerable to mistakes.

Convenience and choice 
Locker stations make your brand appear innovative and give customers a wider choice of delivery options. Customers needn’t wait at home for delivery—a godsend for anyone with a day job, and attractive to younger consumers in particular, according to The Economist, 2012. Because stock is processed faster and the ‘last mile’ challenge negated, you can also extend order cut-off times, as the Courier Express and Postal Observer state—which proves invaluable during busy periods like Christmas where shopping is left to the last minute.

bpost locker network
Boasting 118 locations, bpost’s locker network is the first and only one of its kind in Belgium. Happy clients include fashion retailers Zalando and Torfs.

Its benefits include:
– Parcel lockers are always strategically located at places like train stations, petrol stations or town centres
– Being automated, it is available 24 hours a day
– Parcel tracking
– Notification when parcel arrives
– Reminders if they forget to collect (twice)
– Five days to pick up their parcel
– Easy returns—customers can scan returns whenever it is convenient

Conclusion
The modern e-tailer must contend with more unpredictable demand surges. Meanwhile, because smartphone shoppers often submit orders late in the evening, the pressure on e-commerce distribution is unprecedented. Parcel lockers, which accelerate the shipping process and allow customers to collect goods at their convenience at any time of day or night, can form a big part in meeting this challenge.

 

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