Amazon’s parcel locker, The Hub (Image source: https://thehub.amazon.com/)
The rapid growth of e-commerce in the US continues, with recent data suggesting a growth of 15.6% in 2016 and a sector that is now worth almost $395 billion, reaching almost 12% of all shopping.
Nevertheless, some issues surrounding the e-commerce environment still exist. Example: how can parcel pickup be effectively managed? People are not at home most of the time, and not all workplaces allow private parcel delivery.
The ones living in residential complexes might have the luck of having a receptionist available for parcel pickup, but since this is not always the case, people often need to turn to friends and neighbours.
The problem mainly concerns the consumer, but this in turn obviously impacts on the retailer. In order to facilitate the process, e-commerce giant Amazon introduced the option to request delivery on a specific day.
However, there is more that can be done and one of the first committed to solving this problem in alternative way is once again Amazon, who is currently testing smart lockers that enable convenient parcel delivery and pickup in residential buildings. The idea behind The Hub is to create a fast and easy way to receive packages directly at home. The concept, presented at the end of July 2017, is for now available in the US only.
(Image source: https://thehub.amazon.com/)
The idea in itself is not new: Amazon Locker, parcel lockers installed in public places with typically long opening hours, such as convenience stores, have been around for a while.
Couriers are always certain to find a recipient (the locker) and the consumer can pick up their parcel whenever convenient (within opening hours).
The Hub on the other hand, brings convenience to a further level: Amazon is now placing parcel lockers in even closer to their shoppers, apartment buildings, basically next to their doorsteps.
Furthermore, locker solutions offer more privacy compared to delivering to a reception. The courier arrives, opens the locker door, places the parcel and closes the locker: the package is ready for pickup without having been handled by reception staff.
Managing the increasing amount of parcels delivered can cause problems to receptionists (image source: http://bit.ly/2wBgAO9)
Amazon’s The Hub also offers more security in terms of tracking: it’s easier to establish the precise delivery time as the parcel doesn’t change hands after courier drop off.
The example provided by the Seattle based giant is just one of many: parcel lockers are ever more gaining foothold, especially in their “intelligent” or “smart” version.
After all there are advantages for all players involved: the consumer, the retailer and courier obtain various benefits some of which we have previously mentioned:
- Ability to deliver 24/7 without the need of a human recipient
- Ability to pickup whenever convenient
- More privacy
- Precise tracking of delivery and pickup
(image source: https://thehub.amazon.com/ )
Further advantages nare added to the above: be bringing the parcel locker online, both retailer and shopper can receive instant notification of parcel delivery. In addition, the intelligent parcel lockers can also be used for drop-off, and hence to handle returns in a convenient way.
Smart lockers also find convenience out of the parcel delivery space: they can be the ideal solution for the exchange of pretty much anything from important documents to AirBnB apartment keys, always giving maximum flexibility to all parties at any time.
The same benefits that smart lockers give to with the Amazon The Hub project can be applied to a wide range of locations such student dormitories, office buildings, co-working spaces and many other.
WIB is also active on this front. In fact, in collaboration with various partners and clients, WIB has developed and implemented a range of innovative solutions that sport the smart locker WIB PickUp at the heart of these concepts.
Among some recent examples, we can for instance point out the smart lockers installed in the Copernico Co-Working space in Milan in collaboration with Mail Boxes Etc. or the smart asset management WIB PickUp installed at the Milan office of Maire Tecnimont on which we have recently written a blog post.
WIB PickUp installation at Copernico Co-Working in Milan
The convenience of a smart locker device goes hand in hand with its modularity: the ever-growing need for secure, protected and 24/7 accessible contact points makes it important that the adopted systems can be expanded and updated easily.
In this way, those who choose to equip their spaces with a parcel locker will make an investment that can grow over time and be able to repay itself within the medium term.