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Parcel lockers get set to take centre stage through DHL / InPost deal


InPost’s 1,000 strong parcel locker network is now part of the DHL Express UK offering. Although lockers have yet to find favour with the British shopping public, this is one of the most high-profile votes of support for them within the industry. DHL is no stranger to lockers, operating an enormous network of them across Europe, including the ubiquitous PackStations in Germany.
Phil Couchman, CEO UK & Ireland at DHL Express, said: “Today’s customers are time short, online savvy and want to receive their deliveries quickly and conveniently. Providing increased flexibility, with 24 hour access, lockers eliminate the need for customers to wait in for a parcel and allow for delivery locations to be tailored to their needs. Ensuring customers receive their delivery first time is crucial to our customers’ satisfaction, and so we’re excited to be able to offer this new innovative service.”

Operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, InPost describes its nationwide network of over 1,000 lockers as “typically less than two miles away for the average urban customer.”

Ian Caminsky, CEO at InPost UK, said: “Click-and-collect is really starting to come of age as the delivery market matures and retailers tailor their approach to meet their customers’ expectations.

“People increasingly want to be able to choose from a range of delivery options and select a service that meets their needs. The integration of our 24/7 locker network into DHL’s delivery service is a great example of how people across the country can enjoy even more choice and convenience when it comes to receiving their parcels. We’re committed to making life easier for people, by offering them parcel pick up points that fit into their everyday routines – and are proud to be partnering with DHL for its new delivery service.”

InPost also figures in a raft of four new services being launched by APC Overnight as part of an initiative to grow its SME customer base. The four new services include partnerships with InPost, Whistl and Air Menzies International to bolster click-and-collect, second class mail and international delivery options. It has also launched an online booking tool called APC Direct

The eDelivery view:

Lockers are a familiar last mile sight across much of Europe. But not in the UK; they simply haven’t taken off. Maybe that’s one of the consequences of having an ecommerce fulfilment sector that had to develop fast in the wake of the ecommerce explosion, meaning that a lot of effort went into home delivery solutions initially. The prevalence of home delivery solutions established an expectation for doorstep convenience, in much the same way offers of free delivery to acquire customers set the pattern for shoppers expecting delivery to be free – or very cheap – for years to come.

But as the fight to provide customers with more convenience and a greater choice continues, lockers are likely to play an increasingly important role, particularly in alleviating some of the pressure on click-and-collect networks.

Home delivery is great as long as you are in when the delivery is attempted. Otherwise it’s a failed delivery from everyone’s point of view. Click-and-collect will continue to play an important part in all of this, of course. But the extent to which it offers convenience depends on the extent to which you have to make a special trip to collect that which you had previously clicked. And it falls short of the mark if you struggle to fit in with standard business hours.

More convenient solutions to cracking the last mile – making it work for the shopper, keeping cost down for the carrier, and enabling the retailer to keep their promises, will need shoppers to start to accept new services.

But drones are unlikely to part of that, for a number of reasons. As impressive and exciting as they may be, they are unsupported by any kind of infrastructure and would require a whole new level of acceptance from customers. At best they will play a niche part, important in those niches perhaps, but never a mass market challenge.

Lockers may be the poor cousin along the last mile. But don’t expect them to stay that way.

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