Parcel lockers, which can be used to either receive or send a parcel, are among the several popular alternatives that customers can use to manage their online shopping deliveries. For logistics companies, investment in parcel lockers can reduce costs in the logistics chain, increase delivery efficiency and generate new market opportunities.
For the fifth consecutive year, the 2019 IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey looked into the delivery preferences and experiences of global consumers. In 2019, there were around 36,000 respondents in 41 countries. Respondents were asked which delivery locations they had used in the past year. As shown below, the most commonly used location was delivery to the home (66%), followed by delivery to a post office (21%), a postal service point (14%) and a parcel locker station (12%). Parcel locker stations were most popular in Estonia, Finland, Poland and Lithuania – delivery providers in these countries have installed a huge network of lockers to drive e-commerce in the region.
While delivery to home address was associated with the highest satisfaction, 65% of respondents were extremely or very satisfied with delivery to parcel lockers – this was the highest share of satisfaction out of all pick-up locations, possibly due to most of them being in the vicinity and being open for long periods of the day, if not 24/7. The infrastructure and integration of logistics systems need to be improved to allow for a seamless cross-border delivery to a parcel locker. While several years ago, the market was dominated by private manufacturers which sold their hardware and software solutions to different e-commerce stakeholders including postal operators, the landscape is changing. Instead of owning the lockers, there is a growing trend for leasing them. Instead of limiting them to just one delivery company, they are increasingly deployed on a carrier-agnostic model – where every operator has equal access to the locker network.
Carrier Agnostic approach
While some companies such as KEBA and InPost produce parcel lockers which are mainly used for deliveries from a specific carrier, the carrier-agnostic approach is increasingly prevalent in the parcel locker market, with examples such as OMNIC and SwipBox.
SwipBox already has parcel lockers in 60 countries - the lockers are mainly concentrated in larger networks in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway & Australia. By the end of 2020, SwipBox will have around 10,000 lockers around the globe.
OMNIC has more than 4,800 installations, mainly in Eastern Europe, USA, France and Russia. By 2021 it plans to have at least 6,000 units and by 2022 at least 9,000 units. Their model is a combination of agnostic and carrier-specific approaches depending on the client.
Carrier-agnostic approaches become more interesting also for postal operators as it can maximise the usage of an otherwise underutilised network. Spanish post Correos initially limited their network of over 5,000 lockers to their own deliveries. At the end of 2019 they decided to open up their network to other operators on equal rights – in May 2020, Correos was finalising terms with two delivery providers which will have the same parcel locker access levels and conditions as the post.>
Source: SwipBox, Correos
Security and sustainability
Parcel lockers are perfectly fitted to provide secure last mile delivery, especially in the time of a pandemic where reduced physical contact is preferred by consumers and delivery drivers alike. To enhance the pick-up experience for the customers, some parcel locker providers offer the possibility to remotely open the compartment where their parcel is located. Others, such as OMNIC, released sterile parcel locker stations that sanitise lockers after each use. UV light and disinfectant kill 99% of viruses and bacteria. The module can be implemented in any self-service station. The company opened this technology to the public for free, even for competitors.
Parcel lockers have other advantages, such as contributing to a reduced impact on the environment thanks to first-time delivery success and a reduced amount of individual routes that the courier has to follow.
Finnish postal operator Posti sees its locker network as part of its effort to curb climate change and they found that online shoppers can “reduce their CO2 emissions by up to 70% by routing their parcels along their everyday routes, for example to a parcel locker located at their workplace or the grocery store that they use” – according to Kaisa Ilola, head of customer experience and channels at Posti.
Australia Post launched their parcel locker system in 2014 together with MyPost Deliveries, a service that gives customers choice over exactly where their parcels get delivered. By registering for a MyPost account, customers can choose their closest or most convenient delivery point, whether to their home, a post office close to work or a Parcel Locker, with the flexibility to change it every time they shop. In May 2020, Australia Post had over 400 parcel locker stations (twice as many as in early 2019) provided in partnership with InPost – the details of the partnership are not public.
Source: cep-research.com, Australia Post
In 2017, bpost introduced Cubee - a branded Belgian parcel locker network open to all couriers. The Belgian postal group and Dutch partner De Buren have converted the former bpost-branded parcel locker network into an open, independent system. A parcel from any logistics partner can now be delivered to a Cubee parcel locker. Currently, there are more than 250 such parcel locker terminals in Belgium and the Netherlands combined.
Source: bpost, CEP-Research
There are currently over 330,000 parcel lockers in China and the single largest provider of them both in China and globally is Hivebox. In May 2020, Hive-Box ran almost 150,000 lockers in China. Besides, Hive-Box cooperates with other organisations via the system, providing the value-added services all over the world such as Storage, Automated vending machine in the lockers, Lottery, advertisement, etc. In early May 2020, Hive Box unveiled its plan to acquire 94,000 lockers controlled by state-owned postal service company China Post, currently the second-largest delivery box system in China.
Another player in the field is Cainiao Network which has developed neighbourhood delivery solutions with a combination of community and campus stations and residential self-pickup lockers under the brand Cainiao Post. These solutions have become an important complement to the last-mile delivery network of Cainiao’s express delivery partners in China. It also aims to have 100,000 self-pickup locker terminals in China within three years (by mid 2021).
Cainiao will continue to expand its Cainiao Post pick-up stations, jointly rolled out with express-delivery partners, to cut down last-mile delivery costs. Embedded within communities – with some located in schools and residential areas, while others are attached to convenience stores – the pick-up stations offer free storage and make package pick-up as easy as a click on the Guoguo app.
Source: http://www.fcbox.com/en/pc/index.html#/; https://supchina.com/2020/05/11/chinas-largest-smart-locker-company-hive-box-faces-boycott-from-customers-after-ending-free-services/; https://www.alizila.com/how-cainiao-plans-to-digitize-chinas-logistics-industry/, Marek Rozycki, Managing Partner, Last Mile Experts www.lastmileexperts.com and co-host Last Mile Prophets (with Ian Kerr)
Croatia post has decided to invest in parcel lockers and its first lockers should be installed by the end of 2020. Over a two-year period, a total of 301 parcel lockers will be installed across the country. Each of the lockers, reserved only for Croatia Post deliveries, will have 96 compartments, in various sizes: L, M, S, and XS. These parcel lockers will be manufactured in China and the software will be provided by the Estonian Post.
Source: Croatia Post
After running a successful pilot in Kolding and Sonderborg in Denmark which started in early 2019, Denmark’s PostNord decided to roll out parcel lockers throughout the country, using SwipBox to test a new solution designed to improve convenience for customers.
PostNord Denmark and Swipbox have created a co-owned company; Nordic Infrastructure, which owns the network. The lockers are carrier and postal agnostic, currently offering DHL, Bring and PostNord the possibility of delivering through them. The lockers each consist of 13 compartments.
In June 2019, the pilot was evaluated, and it was decided to continue a national rollout of 2,000 community lockers in Denmark in 2019/2020, and eventually a rollout of 10,000 lockers. In May 2020, a total of 800 lockers are operational, and at the end of Q3-2020 a total of 1,500 lockers will be operational.
Contrary to most other parcel locker solutions on the market, the Danish lockers are battery operated and communicate via Bluetooth with an app on customers’ phones, sending push notifications to customers when a parcel is ready to collect. This means they don’t require electricity or an internet connection to work. Customers are sent an SMS that tells them to download an app to access their parcel and which can navigate them directly to their locker. Once there, the customer clicks on their parcel within the app, which then connects to the locker and opens the locker door – allowing them to retrieve their parcel.
Source: PostNord, SwipBox
Finnish postal group Posti is investing in parcel lockers, a move driven primarily by a record-breaking e-commerce delivery orders, especially around the Christmas season.
Towards the end of 2018, the company installed its 1,000th parcel locker at Helsinki Central Railway Station, giving it almost twice the number that it had available prior to Christmas 2017. As of May 2020, Posti currently has a network of about 1,600 parcel lockers. Posti plans to significantly expand its parcel locker network so that, by 2022, there will be 4,000 Posti parcel lockers in Finland.
Posti is not only expanding its parcel locker network, but also improving the underlying technology. This innovation is based on a new information system technology introduced in Posti's Turku sorting centre and transport terminals, which enables manual work to be digitalised. At the sorting stage, the system can tell whether locker space is available, and if necessary, direct the parcel straight to another pick-up point in the same area.
Posti is developing the usage type of its parcel locker network- on top of being a parcel delivery/return point, parcel lockers will be used for purposes such as recycling, consumer-to-consumer sales and delivering rental devices.
In addition, Posti recently launched its new physical space, Box, for online retailers in the heart of Helsinki. Box is equipped with fitting rooms, a giant parcel locker and a digital kiosk. It’s also a physical store for online retailers and a testing space for Posti’s new digital services.
After Posti’s additional investment, “the number of parcel lockers per capita will be six times higher in Finland than in Germany,” according to Kaisa Ilola, head of customer experience and channels at Posti.
Starting in 2001, there are currently over 4,500 parcel lockers across Germany. Deutsche Post DHL plans to have 6,500 by the end of 2020 and to have up to 7,000 lockers in operation in 2021. Overall, parcel lockers in Germany are now installed both in rural areas as well as larger cities, and these are the guiding points in the German operator’s expansion. The current network of ‘DHL Packstations’ consists of lockers supplied by KEBA as well as own lockers manufactured by Polygon.
Prior registration for receiving parcels at Packstations is required and includes membership in a loyalty programme. When purchasing online, consumers insert the shipping address of their chosen Packstation. Upon delivery of the parcel at the locker, consumers receive notification via App. In order to retrieve parcels, consumers require their smart card (provided upon registration) and pick-up code (sent with the notification).
Deutsche Post DHL recently looked into several development opportunities for its parcel locker network. Main focus areas at the moment are technologies for touch-less collection of parcels and low-energy or passive lockers.
Source: Deutsche Post DHL
Initially tested in 2014, the approach to parcel locker approach changed over the years for PostNL. Instead of buying or renting existing machines from manufacturers, in 2017 PostNL decided to partner with a local manufacturer and software company to create a custom made parcel locker and to have more influence on all elements of the production. The Dutch postal operator currently has 122 parcel lockers around the country which are carrier-specific. On average, each parcel locker has 25 compartments.
Correos now has a network of over 5,000 differently-sized CityPaq terminals and collection boxes in major cities across Spain and other regions such as Canary & Balearic Islands. Most lockers are located in Madrid, where there are over 1,000 self-service points, followed by Barcelona, Málaga, Seville and Alicante. Despite having similar amount of parcel locker locations to, for example, Deutsche Post DHL, the actual number of locker compartments is 10 per locker on average. However, CityPaq network is highly scalable as additional modules can be added or removed depending on demand.
The Spanish postal operator delivers parcels on a daily basis to the lockers for collection by recipients at a time of their convenience. The lockers are located in diverse public places such as train stations, car parks, in shopping centres, outside post offices and at retail outlets such as petrol stations and supermarkets. At the end of 2019 they decided to open up their network to other operators on equal rights – in May 2020, Correos was finalising terms with two delivery providers which will have the same parcel locker access levels and conditions as the post.
There are currently 162 parcel locker stations in Switzerland (compared to 153 at the end of 2019). The My Post 24 network is using the KePol parcel locker system. By the end of 2020 it will grow further to around 190 lockers. Swiss Post plans to install the 200th locker station in mid 2021. The My Post 24 terminal in Bern Längasse, in the west of the Swiss capital, is the biggest parcel terminal in the country to date. The terminal features 221 compartments, with 9,000 households in the nearby vicinity being able to take advantage of the service. Customers can receive, send and return parcels and registered letters 24/7, placing shopping in the locker temporarily, or store keys at the My Post 24 terminals.
Source: Swiss Post
Overall, InPost has a national network of over 1,200 fully automated parcel lockers in the UK, which are located in a variety of “safe and secure” locations including Morrisons supermarkets, Esso petrol stations and Transport for London sites, as well as outside retailers such as Toys R Us. Its plans include having a network of 6,000 lockers within “a few years”.
The company works with a wide variety of partners, including well-known retailers such as ASOS, Boohoo, Holland & Barrett and John Lewis. InPost’s parcel locker network in the UK is accessible to courier partners such as UK Mail, DX, DHL Express, Hermes and APC Overnight. Recently, InPost signed a partnership with Lidl following successful trials in Poland.
Source: https://www.inpost.co.uk/about/, postandparcel.info, Marek Rozycki, Managing Partner, Last Mile Experts www.lastmileexperts.com and co-host Last Mile Prophets (with Ian Kerr)
The number of Amazon lockers is not public and there are industry experts speculating that Amazon’s locker network may have up to 3,000 machines in the UK. These lockers are installed in a variety of locations ranging from shopping centers, Business Parks, Petrol Stations and Convenience Stores to Transport Hubs, Universities and Corporate HQ's. Amazon Lockers offer daily deliveries, seven days a week, which can be tailored to the opening hours of the location if required. Amazon is offering Amazon Hubs which can be installed in residential areas – the exact number of these locations is not clear, but they are actively promoted on the e-retailer’s website.
Source: CEP-Research, https://inpost.co.uk/en/our-partners
OMNIC specialises in IoT self-service solutions for logistics, retail and restaurant industries. It owns the full cycle of the process, from R&D to production all the way to service support. It has been working on parcel locker solutions since 2013 and has 70 deployments and thousands of installations for its clients. The company has more than 4,800 installations, mainly in Eastern Europe, USA, France and Russia. By 2021 it plans to have at least 6,000 units and by 2022 at least 9,000 units. OMNIC is the Guinness World Record holder for the world's largest parcel locker (1,182 automated cells in one place – located at the National Expocenter of Ukraine, in Kiev, Ukraine).
The parcel locker provider is actively responding to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. It released the first sterile parcel locker stations that sanitise stations after each use. UV light and disinfection enable killing 99% of viruses and bacteria. The module can be implemented in any self-service station. The company opened this technology to the public for free, even for competitors. A summary of how this module works is presented in the video below.
OMNIC also developed a 5-year leasing program to better address the investment challenges that some clients face when rolling out a parcel locker network.
Source: http://hub.omnic.net/en/covid-19-solution, OMNIC
InPost is an independent postal services provider in Poland which offers secure electronic parcel services via its Paczkomaty facilities. Currently, there are 6,000 InPost parcel lockers in Poland. Most parcel stations have 76 locker boxes (some have less and some have more) in three sizes, accessible 24/7. Users must register in order to access the parcel locker service. Consumers can select a Paczkomaty delivery from selected e-retailers with parcels ready for collection within 48 hours.
A key development for InPost’s success in Poland was the partnership with Allegro, the largest Polish e-retailer in terms of market share. This partnership allowed Allegro to offer a wider range of delivery options while allowing InPost to ensure a relatively high and regular volume of parcels to their parcel lockers.
Upon delivery to the locker, SMS and email notifications are provided including a delivery code, which together with the user’s mobile number is required for collection. Alternatively, a QR code can be scanned for faster collection.
During Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, InPost enabled their parcels to be collected with reduced physical contact. Using InPost’s app, customers can remotely open the compartment where their parcel is located, provided that location and data is enabled on their devices.
According to a recent study by Furgonetka.pl, parcel locker delivery is the second most popular delivery option in Poland, after courier delivery.
Source: InPost, Furgonetka.pl
In 2019, the national Polish postal operator, Poczta Polska, announced that it is collaborating with SwipBox, a Danish parcel locker and software operator. Poczta Polska will deliver parcels through the existing agnostic network that SwipBox has developed for the Polish market, which currently consists of more than 150 parcel lockers in Biedronka stores (supermarket chain) as well as additional parcel lockers in other locations.
In a pilot phase, SwipBox will make 200 parcel lockers available for Poczta Polska in Biedronka stores and post offices. Indoor parcel lockers will be accessible for customers during the venue’s business hours. In Poland, SwipBox is responsible for the implementation of an agnostic network of parcel lockers, which will be offered to every logistics operator. Each element of the SwipBox solution is designed to minimise the operating cost of its business partners. The goal is to create solutions that substantially reduce the impact of the first and last courier mile on the environment. SwipBox parcel lockers are produced in Denmark.
IPC and the cross-border e-commerce delivery choice
As part of its solutions aimed at improving cross-border e-commerce delivery, IPC offers the Delivery Choice solution, which allows e-retailers to offer cross-border e-buyers a full range of delivery options available domestically. The solution provides customers with a consistent and seamless online shopping experience, whether they are buying domestically or cross-border.
The array of delivery options offered by each e-seller depends on each post’s domestic offer and capabilities, as one of the principles is to align the inbound post’s domestic offer with their international offer.
Parcel lockers as a delivery option are part of a bigger picture under the umbrella of the Delivery Choice Project within Interconnect as many other options/services are offered by different posts (e.g. Post office delivery, Shop delivery, hold the item, re-direct the item etc.).
In order to support posts, e-sellers and e-shoppers on the selection of delivery options at destination, IPC has developed a tool (translation engine) that allows users to access delivery points at destination.
For questions or comments about the Delivery Choice Project, please contact Carlos Setien at [email protected]