It looks like online retailers have finally found the solution to the missing piece of the puzzle!
Well, here we are talking about business-to-consumer (B2C) home delivery or the final phase of the puzzle called the “Last Mile.” Despite the endless efforts of e-commerce companies in India to come up with an effective strategy to put an end to delivery delays and lower logistical costs, nothing has worked according to the plan.
The Changing Dynamics of E-tailing
These days, e-shoppers look for choices, channels and convenience wrapped in one package, and the traditional home delivery system, with its loopholes, is struggling to keep up with such demand. Thus arrived Click & Collect or Self-Service lockers with its revolutionary concept that can shake up the retail supply chain process. These lockers with advanced technology have the potential to resolve the persistent last mile delivery challenges. So, is it the end of traditional home delivery? It may not happen anytime soon, though the current trends are indicative of a future when home delivery is likely to be a thing of past.
The following piece of statistics can give us a glimpse of the future in store:
“As much as 76 percent of online e-shoppers will be using click & collect by 2017.”
The piece of information above is one of the key findings of the survey (2014) conducted by ‘Planet Retail’ in the UK.
Considering the high volume of digital sales, integrating systems such as Click & Collect can help online retailers cope with the logistical complexities in the future.
Now, let’s come back to the moot point of this discussion as to whether Click & Collect or Automated Parcel Lockers will bring curtains down on the traditional courier service. Here are the reasons:
Ensuring great consumer experience is going to be one of the decisive factors for e-commerce companies to create their niche and bag a major market share. Approximately 70 percent of consumers believe that traditional couriers should deliver on the weekends, and nearly 45 percent would order online if there is an improvement in delivery services. These figures suggest that online retailers can create further sales opportunities if they weed out the gray areas of the supply chain, and offer consumers more options to suit their changing lifestyles.
The next-generation lockers are results of advanced technology of the 21st century. These robust lockers are built not only to withstand harsh weather conditions but can also resist break-ins and vandalism. The latest digital technology also ensures both physical security of the items and transactional security of customers. The audit trails of all the transactions are saved in the lockers that make tracking of deliveries easier for shippers and carriers.
Collecting parcels from Click & Collect or parcel lockers is a simple and convenient process for consumers as they don’t have to wait endlessly for their ordered items. In India, companies like Smartbox provide automated parcel lockers where customers need to follow a three-step process to collect their parcel. The steps are below:
Step 1: Shop on a partner website
In order to get the benefits of self-service lockers, customers just need to shop on a partner’s website. Partner websites get into a strategic alliance with a locker service provider with an objective to give better delivery options to e-shoppers.
Step 2 – Choose Smartbox as a delivery location
In this step, consumers need to choose a Smartbox terminal as their delivery location while checking out. The terminal can be near their home or office. The lockers are usually available at the major metro stations, office premises, shopping malls, community centres and residential complexes.
Step 3 – Receive Notification and Collect Parcel
In the final step, online consumers receive an SMS or email to their registered mobile number along with a one-time password (OTP). Customers need to enter their mobile number and the OTP to collect their parcel from a designated locker. At the time of collecting their parcel, customers can pay for their COD orders by using CSOD (Card Swipe On Delivery)
Automated lockers are accessible to shippers, carriers and consumers 24/7. They are digitally connected, externally located in safe and convenient locations. Consumers can pick their parcel anytime, be it on the way to shopping or while running errands. The parcels are kept in lockers for up to three days, and shoppers can pick their item anytime within that time frame.
Apart from making parcel deliveries more convenient for e-shoppers, self-service lockers also reduce costs for e-retailers and carriers by significantly improving last-mile delivery efficiency. Retailers and delivery companies can drop off parcels in bulk at the lockers at once. It is unlike in the traditional courier system where delivery locations are widely scattered. Overall, high-volume deliveries save carriers time, fuel, and cost.
The Way Forward
It is difficult for average consumers, who work 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, throughout the week, to be at home to receive a parcel delivery. The traditional home delivery method is unable to provide online customers the much-needed flexibility and convenience. This is where automated parcel lockers have an edge and are turning out to be the preferred choice of e-shoppers. The five reasons discussed in this post are the major parameters to measure the effectiveness of both types of delivery methods.
The idea behind Click & Collect system is that consumers need not worry about being at home at a certain time, and instead they can get on with their day’s work. Later, they can collect the parcel at a time convenient to them. As the reach of parcel lockers increases consumers will have the freedom and flexibility that they have been seeking a long time now. In the near future, the rise of automated parcel lockers may make home delivery a thing of the past.