Intelligent Lockers for Parcel Delivery – The Last Mile

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By Terry Woolford, Chief Commercial Officer, Cole Kepro International LLC, dba American Locker

The Market

With the growth in online retailing and e-commerce, parcel and package deliveries are growing by more than 25% year over year. Add to this the fact that the market for multifamily apartment housing is on the increase, with 37% of the US population renting equally some 111 million residents. It’s easy to realize the market need for a more efficient and convenient parcel and package delivery paradigm. Of all the applications for electronic lockers including guest rental systems, intelligent lockers, asset management lockers and retailer click and collect systems it is parcel delivery that is spearheading the industry growth.


According to global courier ParcelHero, 12% of deliveries are unsuccessful at the first attempt, these attempts usually results in a card being left with instructions for arranging another delivery attempt or the customer to arrange collection from a depot. Either way it costs time and money and detracts from the consumer experience. Equally affected by this are both renters and owners, a delivery not requiring a signature is typically left on the doorstep, the insecure nature of this is obvious. Not only is the package at risk from theft, it also signals to those with nefarious intentions, there is a good chance the resident is away from home.


Real Page Egg System


It is often cited by apartment managers that handling resident packages and parcels is one of the top issues they face. Some apartments are now refusing to accept packages due to liability, package storage and consuming significant management time. It’s a problem all year round but especially during busing holiday periods. During Black Friday and Cyber Monday parcel deliveries can peak at a burgeoning 5x times usual volume.


Intelligent parcel and package lockers are the obvious solution to the numerous problems associated with the costly last mile of the delivery. Especially given that last mile can account for up to 50% of the delivery cost to the courier delivery company. The opportunity for them is to reduce fragmented and wasted home deliveries into a single consolidated drop and pick-up option. Which makes them attractive as a far more cost-effective solution.


Global Picture for Electronic Lockers


Looking towards Europe, which has pioneered electronic delivery solutions, yielding some interesting facts. Germany and France are clearly leading the field, in Germany DHL has 250,000 lockers and 20,000 parcel shops, and in France 60 million parcels (20% of all e-commerce generated deliveries) are sent to pick-up points or lockers. A well cited European Commission funded study in Cologne shows that, in that one city, dating back to 2006, 35,000 trip-km (22,000 miles) were saved annually directly because of its Packstation scheme.


The US is catching up quickly, with all the major delivery companies already having introduced limited trials, and progressed beyond, as have retailers such as Amazon now visible in most neighborhoods. Now UPS has committed to the technology and, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, will increase their shop Access Points from a few thousand to 20,000 by the end of the year.


Parcel lockers, or secure locker banks, typically comprise of between 40 to 200 electronic lockers with a control unit that allows each compartment to be opened by someone with the proper credentials. They offer a very convenient and cost effective alternative for customers and carriers to get parcels both delivered and returned. The lockers are normally made available in different sizes, to suit common parcels, so mixed configurations can be customized to maximize space utility.

As well as within multifamily complexes, electronic locker banks can also be located in areas that have extensive opening hours – such as shopping centers, supermarket car lots and gas station forecourts such systems usually have a real-time data link that allows instant updating of collections or deliveries and means that goods can be delivered first-time.


Chilled delivery system

Globally the electronic parcel locker systems market is worth almost $800 million, according to the same report from Apex Insight. The report continues to say that due to the main benefits that these parcel locker systems offer, they will see their growth continue.

Those benefits include:

  • Retailers: potential for increased sales from better delivery service
  • Carriers: cost savings from better consolidation and improved delivery success rates
  • Consumers: increased convenience and less risk
  • The environment: benefits from reducing the number of delivery van miles driven

Put simply – everyone, everywhere benefits from the implementation of these electronic locker parcel delivery systems.

So if you’re an apartment owner, management company or courier what should you be looking for when you consider a supplier of intelligent delivery lockers?

Quality – obviously system quality is paramount, having the system with high uptime availability  and minimal maintenance requirements. The systems should be robust enough to ensure security and the software have inbuilt failsafe functionality. Electronic locker systems are commonly comprised of three major components:

  1. Mechanical construction of the lockers, don’t take it for granted that all systems are created equally. From doors, to hinges and locks remember these systems are in constant use by members of the public – construction is not the place to economize.


  1. Electrical and electronic sub-systems should be reliable and properly rated for safety and protection according to local regulations.


  1. Software control and recording system, running on a stable platform ensuring reliable operation and security of data.


Support – remote support should be available 24/7, as all systems are connected to the cloud this remote access option can save time and increase uptime. With quality construction there should be little need for onsite maintenance, any minor items can be addressed by location maintenance personnel.
Ease of use – it should be simple for delivery agents, residents and consumers need to deposit, collect and return their goods, access should be 24/7 and the user interface should be intuitive. Ideally on screen help functions will guide the users through the process.


Environmental protection, consider carefully the installation location, normally installed inside a building, though systems can be supplied with adequate protection against the elements.


Without doubt the market for electronic parcel delivery lockers is growing rapidly, as the proliferation of suppliers attests to. It is likely that the convenience of these systems mean the market will continue driven both by suppliers and users. At American Locker we look towards the future with a keen eye on the past, with the knowledge that 85 years’ experience in the industry provides.


About American Locker

American Locker is a leading manufacturer of secure storage, distribution and inventory management solutions. Established over 85 years ago, its proprietary offerings range from classic coin/token operated security lockers and employee/personal lockers to keyless and electronic controlled storage systems. These products provide the necessary storage capability to recreation, government, postal, and general corporate needs for day to day business operations.

About Cole Kepro International, LLC

Cole Kepro International, LLC is an industry leader and global supplier of fully engineered sheet metal solutions. Cole Kepro International offers turn-key results for partners requiring products as diverse as gaming cabinets, kiosks, safes, lockers, and mailboxes. Its commitment to customers ensures quality, service, and price are always the cornerstone of execution. Cole Kepro International, LLC is a partnership of Cole Industries, Inc. and Kepro International Company Ltd. of Taiwan.