Skip to content
All posts

Parcel locker delivery: revolutionising e-commerce logistics


The growing popularity of parcel lockers, especially after the rise in demand for contactless pick-up methods and convenient delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, is indeed reshaping the e-commerce logistics world. They embody a secure and flexible solution for collecting parcels while addressing key challenges in the last-mile delivery process.

Delivery companies, logistics providers and retailers are increasingly integrating smart parcel lockers among their delivery options, driven by the need to reduce delivery times and costs while enhancing operational efficiency, as well as customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, consumer preference too is shifting towards parcel lockers, precisely for the flexibility they offer in package collection, making them a favoured and innovative choice in the e-commerce landscape. Let’s see why.

Table of contents

What is a parcel locker?

A parcel locker, also known as automated parcel machine (APM), is a secure package storage solution located in a public space where packages can be safely stored for collection, usually within a specific timeframe that varies depending on the provider’s policy.

They eliminate the need for recipients to be present for home deliveries, thereby reducing the risk of missing a delivery or leaving a package unattended. Furthermore, their integration with advanced technology allows for seamless operations, where customers are notified instantly and can pick up their parcels using unique, secure codes or mobile app integrations.

Therefore, this system enhances delivery efficiency and aligns with modern lifestyles, where flexibility and convenience are essential.

How parcel lockers work

When the package is delivered into a smart locker system and ready for pickup, the recipient is automatically notified via text or email. The customer has specific instructions to access the locker, which can take the form of a QR Code or PIN that they can enter on the keypad or scan using their mobile device. Once information is entered correctly, the customer will be able to collect the package.

Parcel lockers also offer a streamlined and convenient solution for returns, as customers can return unwanted or faulty items using smart lockers located close to them, where delivery providers can then collect them.

Some parcel lockers are designed for specific industry needs. For example, grocery or pharmaceuticals need temperature-controlled storage and other advanced features.

Furthermore, smart lockers have different sizes and capacities to accommodate different parcel dimensions, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Advantages for businesses

According to Business Insider, last-mile accounts for 53% of all shipping costs and is therefore the most challenging and expensive phase of the delivery process. However, it is also true that last-mile is directly connected to customer satisfaction and cannot be underestimated.

Last-mile delivery costs

So how to find a balance between these two aspects?

  • Incorporating parcel lockers into the last-mile delivery process can be a solution that is both highly efficient and cost-effective. In fact, single deliveries to multiple areas are an expensive proposition for businesses but parcel lockers enable providers to centralise multiple deliveries to a single location.
  • Delivering to parcel lockers increases first-attempt delivery to nearly 100%, enhancing customer satisfaction while reducing transport CO2 emissions.
  • The automation provided by smart lockers allows businesses to scale their operations easily, making them a convenient solution for both large and growing companies.

Advantages for consumers

Automated parcel lockers have revolutionised the traditional delivery process for customers. They share the same advantages as other Out-Of-Home delivery methods, yet they address the needs of consumers desiring complete flexibility and convenience. They are ideal for individuals who need to collect parcels at hours when a PUDO location might be closed or for those preferring a contactless pickup for which they don’t need to wait in lines at post offices or shops. This makes parcel lockers a smart, time-saving option.

APMs cater to modern lifestyles, allowing people to collect their parcels 24/7 and eliminating the hassle of failed deliveries. They spare the inconvenience of repeated delivery attempts or having to wait at home for a parcel. Not to mention that this service is usually free, offering an attractive option for plenty of online buyers who are unwilling to pay extra for deliveries.

Meeting the needs of the "always-on" consumer

Today’s consumer is always online and can shop anywhere at any time, expecting to receive an order as quickly as possible. This means that brands need to cater to a higher, diversified demand.

To meet the needs of the “always on consumer”, businesses have to adopt technologies and strategies that offer 24/7 accessibility while expanding their distribution networks.

Parcel lockers offer a competitive advantage in this context, and brands are empowered with more operational efficiency, especially when dealing with high volumes of orders. In other words, APM technology is the emerging digital infrastructure of the future and can be used for a variety of services like delivering groceries, medicines, the collection of parcels and even to return packages.

Automated parcel locker

Last mile is the key factor in customer experience 

For e-commerce, the last mile of delivery is critical. Being the final touchpoint of the customer’s delivery experience, any missteps at this stage can negatively impact the whole shopping experience.

Parcel lockers provide a secure and flexible option that addresses all common pain points associated with last-mile deliveries, such as missed deliveries, lack of safe drop-off points and high costs for businesses.

The convenience of not having to be at home waiting for a delivery or not having to rush home if the carrier has to arrive, hoping that they will leave the package anyway, is a significant benefit that cannot be ignored. This flexibility liberates consumers from the most common constraints of package delivery, allowing them to manage their time and schedules freely. This convenience not only increases sales opportunities but also represents a shift towards a more customer-centric approach, allowing customers to be informed and in control of their delivery process.

Consequently, parcel lockers not only streamline the logistical aspect of the last-mile but also significantly boost customer satisfaction. In fact, customers who can choose are customers who feel valued.

Parcel locker technology: security, tracking, and automation

Out-of-home delivery is gaining significant traction in many European markets, with nearly half of all deliveries in regions like the Nordics, France, Germany, Romania, Czech Republic, and Hungary being made through this system, with Poland leading the way with the largest locker network in the EU.

As demand for lockers grows, technological advancements in this area have grown, leading to rapid developments in security, tracking, and automation. Modern lockers are equipped with robust security features, like electronic locks and surveillance systems, ensuring parcels are stored appropriately and safely and 24/7 accessible via unique PINs and QRCodes.

These automated delivery lockers can be easily integrated with mobile apps, allowing customers to track their order in real-time and receive timely automatic notifications about their parcel deliveries, making the pick-up process extremely safe and convenient for them.

Parcel lockers: a sustainable future for logistics

From consumer satisfaction to cost reduction for companies, parcel lockers have a far-reaching impact. We have seen how they embody the multifaceted approach to addressing modern challenges in e-commerce deliveries so, how not to mention their contribution to sustainability?

In fact, it is estimated that one parcel locker can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 13,845 kg per year, in other words the equivalent to the atmospheric purification of 2,769 trees.

Impact of parcel locker delivery - Sustainability in logistics

Compared to other traditional e-commerce delivery solutions, they not only ensure first-time delivery success but cut CO2 emissions by up to two-thirds! This reduction is significant, especially if we consider how much the express parcel industry is growing due to the booming e-commerce market.

Therefore, the need to balance growth in the industry and its environmental impact is an imperative responsibility. Implementing out-of-home deliveries, including parcel lockers, can potentially reduce the logistics carbon footprint by more than 91% in just a decade.

Adopting parcel lockers allows businesses to manage peaks in deliveries while reducing their transport environmental impact due to noise pollution, congestion, and carbon emissions. Also, automated parcel lockers can be strategically located in busy urban areas or close to traffic hubs, like stations or supermarkets, making them accessible and convenient, further reducing the need for individuals to travel to post offices or delivery centres.

Parcel locker delivery: conclusion

Meeting consumer expectations and delivering a high-quality shopping experience is the driving force behind business success, especially in the e-commerce sector. There are three pivotal attributes that every business must focus on to cater to the needs of the modern buyer and still be efficient, where efficiency today is a concept that extends beyond mere speed to encompass sustainable practices.

These pillars are quality, convenience, flexibility, and environmentally friendly practices.

Businesses who decide to integrate parcel lockers among their delivery options are taking a step towards fulfilling these. By doing so, they enhance the quality and reliability of their services, provide the convenience of 24/7 parcel collection, offer flexibility in delivery choices, and contribute to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions associated with traditional delivery methods.

This strategic approach not only aligns with modern consumer needs but also positions businesses as forward-thinking and customer-centric in the competitive e-commerce realm.

Martina Elizabeth Di Carlo

Passionate freelance copywriter, with a niche in ecommerce and logistics. When collaborating with ShippyPro, she loves writing about trends, marketing and communication strategies to help brands gain an edge in an ever-evolving digital landscape.