In the world of parcel delivery, there is currently a battle between advocates of service points versus those that prefer parcel lockers. The battle is at least fought on two fronts: cost of delivery and customer convenience.
When it comes to cost it’s a tie, with about the same cost levels for delivery of a packet to a consumer with a delivery cost in the range of 0.5–1 €. This delivery cost is of course built in to the price for the product, but its share of the overall cost shouldn’t be neglected.
Behind the scenes there are other aspects involving the flow of packets that in certain situations can be tricky – like parcel lockers being very dependent on quick pick up from the receiver in order to keep the efficiency up. But let’s not get drowned in those details.
The more important issue is convenience for the receiver, and here the battle gets fiercer. The parcel locker crowd pushes the “opening hours” as the main argument. Once you’ve gotten your e-mail
or SMS, you can in most cases access the parcel locker 24/7 and that sounds quite convenient. Another common argument is that recipients can leave returns directly in the parcel locker (if this is provided by the seller) .
Looking at service points, these constitute a more personal interaction between the receiver and the person handing over the packet. Furthermore, in many customer satisfaction surveys service points get high ratings and, conveniently, the receiver at many locations can purchase food or other stuff at the same time.
Common to both parcel lockers and service points is that the distance from home should be small and within easy access. People within the industry claim it should be no more than 2500 meters, others say it should not take more than 15 minutes to reach the service point or parcel locker.
But wait! What if there was a solution with zero distance from the home that is open 24/7 all weekdays?
Sound too good to be true?
This possibility actually exists, and it is the ordinary mailbox! Postal operators are now beginning to understand the value of this channel, and the IPC (International Postal Cooperation – an organization owned by a number of postal operators) has started a project with the aim of developing postal services that better suit the growing e-commerce industry. One of the tasks taken on by the IPC project is to harmonize product specifications for “letters” in order to better serve e-commerce. Soon, it will be possible to send “boxable” e-commerce packets with T&T within Europe that are no larger than 3 x 25 x 35 cm and which weigh less than 2 kg, to be delivered directly to the recipient’s mailbox. 24/7 and with zero distance…
Looking at many e-commerce segments, as many as 80 % of all shipments could fit the size of a “boxable” item – with attractive service specifications and cost structures.
Thus, if you want to reach your customer’s heart – do it through the mailbox whenever possible!
Per-Arne Lundberg, Chairman Direct Link Group