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GUEST COMMENT Convenience is the new black: Parcel lockers coming A/W 2023


Parcel lockers are the new big thing with more and more carriers joining forces with well-known supermarket chains to offer consumers the opportunity to pick up their parcels at a place, and time, that is convenient.

Sabi Tolou, CCO & co-founder of Sendcloud

Sabi Tolou, CCO & co-founder of Sendcloud asks will parcel lockers win the hearts and minds of consumers? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of delivery?

Consumers crave convenience and are well and truly embracing self-service. The self-service scans at supermarkets and fashion stores have already proven to be a hit, as consumers literally have the power in their own hands.

The same applies to the delivery and return of orders. Consumers aren’t always able to stay at home to take delivery of an item, nor do they have the time to queue up to drop off a return, which is why they are increasingly opting for parcel lockers as their preferred delivery destination.

Not only do parcel lockers give consumers the convenience and flexibility to arrange the time and location of their delivery, but they also contribute to more sustainable and efficient delivery. Bonus.

Parcel lockers as a final stop
71% of consumers claim flexible delivery, such as same-day delivery or delivery to a pick-up point, is key for them when placing an online order. Consumers like to decide themselves where, when and how to accept an order.

Parcel lockers seem to be the perfect answer for that. After all, parcel lockers always have a 100% delivery guarantee allowing consumers to pick up a parcel whenever it suits them.

And it’s a win-win as delivery drivers don’t have to show up at an empty house!

Evri is a good example of a carrier that successfully implemented parcel lockers as a shipping method. They have over 3,000 lockers across the UK, open 24/7, meaning consumers can always find a parcel locker locally to them, at any time of day or night.

Another example is InPost, who have teamed up with the UK’s top retailers and brands to offer collection and returns via parcel lockers. An interesting way to handle counters more efficiently, without creating long queues of people coming to send or collect orders. Not to mention the mountains of packages often tiled up in the warehouse.

Enabling parcel lockers in your checkout
The busiest period of the year hasn’t even started yet and yet the e-commerce market is already slightly under fire. There is a lot going on: increasing fuel prices, high inflation, low purchasing power and staff shortages at carriers and warehouses. In the battle against parcel volumes, it is good to already start thinking about a clever shipping strategy.

By offering a mix of shipping options in your checkout, you can offer consumers the flexibility they desire. Delivery to a pick-up point or locker should definitely be part of the mix, as research we recently carried out amongst 1,000 consumers shows almost half 47% would like to have the option to choose delivery to a pick-up point.

Including parcel lockers as an option in the checkout has plenty of benefits:

  1. Convenience of delivery and returns in one
    It is probably pretty obvious: one parcel is already waiting to be returned and the next one is already arriving. The advantage of a parcel locker is that the returning and collecting of parcels can be combined in one trip. Save yourself and the delivery driver an unnecessary trip and logistical costs in the last few miles.
  2. Win-win: saving costs and the environment
    The high fuel prices have not escaped anyone’s attention. It is, therefore, more unfavourable than ever before – not only just for the planet but also for your purse – to have a delivery van stopped at each front door to deliver a parcel. Those carriers who want to make the last mile even more sustainable often work with fossil-free and renewable fuels to even justify the delivery to parcel lockers.
  3. Delivery on Sundays and evenings
    Carriers usually don’t deliver any parcels on Sundays or in the evenings. This is quite inconvenient for most working consumers with a 9-to-5 job. Having your order delivered at a parcel locker is the perfect solution as the lockers are often located at supermarkets or stores with flexible opening hours. Sometimes, parcel lockers are even accessible 24/7 – offering consumers even more convenience.
  4. Scaling up and down during fluctuating volumes
    Take the weight off delivery staff a bit during peak periods by shipping parcels to a locker instead of choosing home delivery. Depending on the parcel size, locker walls can accommodate 25 to 250 parcels, allowing one delivery driver to deliver dozens or hundreds of orders in just one stop. Efficiency to the utmost degree!

Time is still money…
Besides all the advantages, parcel lockers do still come with a few challenges. Due to the complicated technological system behind them, installing parcel lockers is still quite expensive and can therefore only succeed if they are actively used.

If consumers wait two or three days before collecting their order the parcel locker is ‘unnecessarily’ full. The best scenario is being able to use each locker several times a day, meaning that consumers would have to come and collect their parcels within a few hours after the delivery. Is that really what consumers want? Time will only tell…

All in all, parcel lockers can be an interesting solution to reduce the number of delivery vans in residential areas and offer consumers the flexibility they desire.

On top of that, shipping to lockers is more sustainable in terms of the last mile and can be a good way to unburden carriers during the peak period.

However, the rise of parcel lockers will only succeed if consumers are willing to use them and regularly pick up their orders actively…

Sabi Tolou, CCO & co-founder of Sendcloud

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