Sometimes the revolution comes just in time, exactly when the existing solutions slowly stop working, succumbing to changing conditions and losing the battle with new market trends. This is exactly what happened with the appearance of automatic parcel pick-up stations, also known as "lockers". Known for several years, now they are celebrating their greatest heyday. This was due to the huge growth in sales in e-commerce channels, which was a "thanks" to the situation that currently dominates the entire world. We are talking about a pandemic, of course. The new method of product delivery allows, like a plaster to the wound, to heal the problems with the increased demand for an efficient, fast and economically advantageous last mile supply chain.
Time of trial
2020 has closed many traditional trade-based businesses. Introduced lockdowns and a society paralyzed by the fear of the threat decisively and effectively stopped the willingness to buy, and thus the possibility of earning money for the owners of commercial establishments. Some of them gave up trying to make a living, others made an attempt to switch to a digital sales model. E-commerce has experienced tremendous growth. Hybrid pick-up methods began to emerge, combining the online world with physical tradition. We call it "click & collect", and it is nothing more than collecting online orders in stationary outlets (even those closed for the time of a lockdown), or in parcel machines.
The use of click & collect elements, such as automated parcel stations, ensures the physical "presence" of online stores in public space, which translates into recognition, comfort of using something "tangible", but also a breath of freshness and normality in these difficult times.
Parcel machines in society
Even in 2020, according to the IPC Cross-Border E-Commerce Shopper Survey conducted among 33,000 respondents from 40 countries, the most popular method of online order fulfillment was courier home delivery. 86% of the respondents supported this method. Parcel machines were placed behind with only 39%, and 17% using them regularly. They were also the fourth preferred method of processing returns, with the vast majority of operations of this type performed in Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Finland.
At the end of 2021, at the request of SelfMaker, a similar study was carried out, covering mainly the Polish market, in which the main question asked to respondents was to indicate the experience of using delivery to a parcel machine so far. The results speak for themselves. As many as 80% of respondents have experience with the use of this method of order fulfillment, the reason for such a decision is mainly the lack of waiting at a specific time in a specific place to collect the package (69%), low cost of this form of delivery (57%), time savings (52%) and ecological character (28%). The main reason for the reluctance to use the locker delivery was the lack of adequate infrastructure in the place of residence.
A revolution on the delivery market?
Based on this research, a strong increase in conviction to use new methods of collecting parcels can be noticed. We distinguish three main factors that influenced this. The first one is primarily the risks associated with the pandemic, and the fear of the society of direct contact with others. The use of "lockers" reduces interpersonal interactions to a minimum and, as a result, reduces the possibility of the virus spreading.
The second aspect is convenience and time saving. Pickup at parcel machines gives you the freedom to choose, and the freedom to manage your own schedule of the day. The parcel may be taken over at any time, often while performing other activities, and does not even have to be done in person.
The developing ecological awareness in society is also influencing. Parcel stations increase the so-called first-delivery-success, i.e. a chance to deliver the parcel at the first time without having to travel the route again by the courier. Centralized delivery points also allow to plan a map of points necessary to visit more economically and ecologically, reducing the total of kilometers traveled and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.
However, the ecology of this solution has still not been easily established and depends on many factors. Much depends on local conditions. It is certain, however, that appropriate actions on the part of the government should be taken in the field of sustainable planning of the location of collection points, not only for financial reasons, but also for practical and environmental reasons. It is no wonder that the location of a parcel terminal at a petrol station on the outskirts of the city or in industrial areas, although a cheaper solution, does not provide the same efficiency as locating them in densely populated areas.
It is good, it will get even better
The click & collect trend has already made its way into the minds of the Polish recipient, we have known parcel machines for years, we use them, we like them. This distinguishes us from many other countries where this delivery method has not yet been developed as well and will only experience its heyday. Still, even in our country, a huge part of the retail industry space has not been developed, and the benefits of this method of online order fulfillment can also be used elsewhere. This is primarily about pick-up machines located near brick-and-mortar stores belonging to large chains, as in the case of the project carried out by SelfMaker for Leroy Merlin, but also in smaller outlets.
If you want to find out how lockers can help you develop your business, please contact our specialists. You will certainly receive a solution tailored to your needs.