Reflections and predictions: Parcel lockers

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2021 was the year of the delivery. The e-commerce boom has driven a steady rise in parcel volumes. Evidence of this can be seen with around 34% more parcels sent via Royal Mail within the UK in the five months from April 2021 to August 2021 compared to the same time in pre-pandemic 2019.

What’s more, a survey conducted by Parcel Pending by Quadient into shopping behavior and parcel delivery expectations as consumers prepared for Black Friday and Christmas found that for those individuals shopping online, home delivery remained the most popular option. In fact, its popularity slightly increased in 2021, with 33% of people who participated in our survey opting for it, compared to 32% in 2020.

However, several issues have arisen from this increase in parcel volumes, such as sustainability concerns and safety worries. This necessitates a solution, which comes in the form of intelligent parcel lockers. This article will reflect on the factors behind the rising popularity and usage of parcel lockers this year, in addition to the key role these lockers play in the parcel management process.

Unfortunately, the rise in parcel deliveries has had some negative effects, particularly from an environmental perspective: 25% of CO2 emissions and 20% of traffic volumes in urban areas come from delivery vans, while a 2020 World Economic Forum (WEF) report estimates the demand for last-mile delivery in urban areas will increase by 78% by 2030, leading to a rise in emissions from these deliveries of over 30% in the world’s 100 biggest cities.

To combat this issue, there has been an increased focus on sustainability, as can be seen with the COP26 summit, which brought parties together in an attempt to step up global action to solve the climate crisis. What’s more, recent years have seen consumer demand for green and sustainable products increasing, meaning an increase in parcel lockers or similar environmentally friendly products. This solution helps to reduce the environmental damage and carbon footprint caused by increased deliveries as they make failed deliveries a thing of the past. If packages cannot be directly given to the recipient, couriers can place them in intelligent lockers, instead of needing to be redelivered. This eases the burden of multiple delivery attempts that negatively impact the environment as the number of deliveries made is significantly reduced, therefore causing a reduction in the carbon emissions being produced.

Improving parcel safety
Another trend which has begun to emerge is the theft of parcels from doorsteps or residential communal areas – often referred to as ‘porch piracy’. A concerning one-quarter (25%) of individuals surveyed as part of our Black Friday and Christmas research stated that they had a parcel lost or stolen in 2021, while in 2020 in the UK, roughly 10 parcels were lost or stolen every minute. That equates to over five million people according to Citizens Advice Bureau, therefore, more convenient and secure delivery options are necessary. Due to these reasons, ‘out of home’ delivery options have become more popular, including parcel shops and parcel lockers, which ensure safe arrival of packages on their initial delivery attempts.

Parcel lockers eradicate safety concerns as when a customer’s order is ready, they are automatically notified by email, or other electronic means, and receive a unique PIN and barcode. They pop along to parcel lockers at their building and put in the code or scan the barcode to open the single locker assigned to their delivery. It’s a safe and secure way for customers to take delivery of their items.

Continuation of flexible working
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the way people live, work and shop for almost two years. People have worked from home and shopped online more than ever before. This has resulted in more packages being delivered to individual’s homes, instead of to stores or their places of work, as people working from home means that residencies are no longer empty during the day. For Build to Rent (BTR) properties, this has raised the question of how they will meet the demands of increasing parcel deliveries.

Front of house services may be prized by residents, but their effectiveness is diminished if staff are weighed down by time-consuming, labor-intensive processes, such as manual parcel processing. If building staff are responsible for collecting and distributing parcels, and if they spend roughly four minutes on each delivery, 30 parcels a day will take up nearly two hours of their time. This is where parcel lockers come in.

The delivery of packages into secure lockers frees up on-site staff and enables them to focus on vital tenant-related activities, while also eliminating risks such as theft, fire and trip hazards from parcels collecting in unwanted areas. As residents are automatically notified once their parcel has been securely placed in the locker, there is a reduction in the need for in-person contact between couriers and building staff, as well as staff and residents, saving all involved a significant amount of time. This solution offers tenants the convenience of parcel delivery and collection right from the comfort of their own building, 24/7.

Parcel lockers – the solution
Parcel lockers provide facilities with an efficient and cost-effective solution for inbound parcel management, while the collection process is convenient and simple for recipients. The use of parcel lockers saves everyone involved in the delivery process a significant amount of time, particularly staff working at the locations where they’re installed. In fact, the facilities also receive a return on investment (ROI) in the form of time gained back by members of staff, who no longer have to spend time managing parcels.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, BTR facilities have needed parcel lockers to help minimize unnecessary contact for those collecting and receiving packages. However, the lockers provide far more value than just helping to reduce avoidable interactions – they also vastly improve the parcel management process for these buildings. Parcel lockers are not just an amenity for the current world; they also provide a solution for the years ahead.

Bren has been dedicated to sales and marketing for more than 20 years, starting out as a sales executive and quickly progressing through to management roles in sectors such as insurance and technology. During his career, he has held multiple senior positions such as sales and marketing director, program director, business development director and now helping support the UK and Ireland growth of the Quadient Intelligent Parcel Locker organization as the commercial director.

Connect with Bren on LinkedIn: Bren Standell | LinkedIn

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