Last-mile delivery challenges, a nagging parcel-freight concern in the age of e-commerce, are taking centre stage as volumes surge on the back of coronavirus-curbing consumerism but costs escalate because of surcharges related to door-step drop-offs.
As an alternative to the current courier-to-consumer model used by the likes of FedEx and DHL, parcel locker networks are eyeing market share opportunities, claiming that drop-and-store options are in keeping with social distancing behaviour.
Speaking at a Post & Parcel Conference last week, Gary Winter, strategic director of Global Parcel Locker Solutions (PLS), said the market was perfectly primed for a push into safer and secure last-mile services that were also more affordable.
Quoted by a leading British supply-chain portal, he said the time was ripe to establish locker deliveries.
According to Andre Veskimeister, head of parcel business at Estonian logistics company Omniva, the growing demand among recipients for safer collection practices was one of the biggest drivers of parcel hubs which were increasingly becoming commonplace in suburban areas.
While markets the world over were battling to trade while also trying to limit the spread of Covid-19, outdoor lockers had become the best option for contactless delivery, he said.
And as is usually the case, the growing trend of using lockers for last-mile delivery of cyber-bought goods is fast catching on in the States.
Kate Reidel, a senior vice-president and business development manager of package management subsidiary Parcel Pending, said the downloading rate of locker hub apps by US customers had shot up 46%.
Journalist Ian Putzger reported that Reidel, who works for Quadient, the same parent company overseeing PLS’s push into the British market, said: “Ninety-seventy percent of organisations believe last-mile delivery models are not sustainable.”
As a result of the spike in courier costs in tandem with e-volumes going up as more and more people turn to the internet for safer shopping, 99% of consumers are becoming reluctant to pay for last-mile surcharges.
Dutch parcel network ViaTime believes they have an even better alternative than locker hubs through their system of community drop-off points.
ViaTime founder Michael Nieuwkerk believes not only is their practice three times faster, but it costs less than 10% of what consumers are currently expected to pay for last-mile delivery charges.