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Lockers and robots: Innovations for shoppers


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Photo courtesy of architecturalempire.com

Amazon is anticipated to land in Australia before the end of November–just in time for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday shopping frenzy. But, despite the unabated growth of eCommerce, Australia is just now starting to see investment in delivery systems and improvements in the infrastructure to enable efficient collections and returns of goods.

According to the latest Parcel Shipping index release last month by eCommerce firm, Pitney Bowes, Australia is forecast to see over a billion parcel deliveries a year by 2021. Meanwhile, the price per parcel is dropping at a rate of 8% year on year.

 Parcel deliveries are only going to increase, and the conditions require a new set of solutions. 

So, the stage is set for innovation. Parcel deliveries are only going to increase, and the conditions require a new set of solutions.

Locked up

One solution currently being tested is the introduction of lockers, either at home or within public locations, where parcels can be delivered at any time of day.

As an example, Scentre Group, (owner of Westfield), and Stockland have introduced lockers for online shoppers in their malls. By partnering with CouriersPlease (CP), they can provide lockers for shoppers to collect and return goods across 31 major shopping centres.

These lockers operate similar to a vending machine and enable customers to redirect parcels to a shopping centre POPStation, if they anticipate that they won’t be home to receive the parcel.

Will customers care? 

The latest research from The Delivery Experience, Blackbay and MeeMeep suggests that almost 80% of online shoppers in Australia are familiar with collecting parcels from the post office or parcel locker, and 40% have used Click & Collect or similar services.

"Almost 80% of online shoppers in Australia are familiar with collecting parcels from the post office or parcel locker." 

Mailboxes of the future

Australia’s favourite postal service, Australia Post, is a frontrunner to introduce new delivery solutions and innovate their existing systems to improve customer experience.

Jobsite spoke to Australia Post’s General Manager of eCommerce and International, Ben Franzi, to hear more about how they plan to tackle the challenge of improving the infrastructure behind eCommerce.

As part of their investment in making parcel deliveries more efficient and convenient Australia Post is introducing a number of new services to offer customers a wider choice for when and where they can collect their items.

The first step was to enable customers to select a safe location at their house for a postie to deliver a parcel to, so they don’t miss a delivery when they’re not home. On top of this, customers are now able to redirect a parcel, while in transit, to a more convenient location.

Australia Post also now offers access to 24/7 parcel lockers in over 260 locations, as part of an expanding network. 

Australia Post also now offers access to 24/7 parcel lockers in over 260 locations, as part of an expanding network.

“We are always looking at ways to enhance deliveries for our customers and, where appropriate, try new ideas. For instance, we will complete a robotic mobile parcel locker trial for four weeks in New Farm from November 13.

“The small-scale trial will explore if there is customer demand to receive after-hour deliveries via a mobile parcel locker. It’s important we get this right, and we will only continue exploring this technology where there is community support,” says Ben.

While the robot will be self-driving, it will be accompanied by an Australia Post employee. At first, it will be limited to one parcel at a time. After customers register and request a specific delivery time, they will receive a text message when the robot arrives.

By using the app, customers can get delivery notifications, monitor the temperature and battery levels of the box and allow others to access it.  

Ben continues, “Another trial we are running is an interactive mailbox, which has been created by Receva, a start-up business of Australia Post accelerate. The smart mailbox is designed to receive mail and parcel items, including wine and groceries.  Registered and verified couriers can deliver parcels to any Receva device, installed outside people’s homes, via a secure digital key.”

Through using a smartphone app, customers can receive delivery notifications, monitor the temperature and battery levels of the box, and allow others to access it. The box also offers weather protection through a stainless steel sunshield. Worth mentioning that these mailboxes will set you back $249.

With eCommerce predicted to continue its growth trajectory, it is expected that Australia’s existing systems for collecting and returning packages will need to evolve. Those that plan ahead and incorporate these solutions in new developments from shopping malls to high-rise apartments can only expect to reap the rewards.

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