When the e-commerce was emerging as the new sunrise industry in India, it painted a rosy picture for customers with the promises such as diverse product range, affordability, and convenience. Consumers quickly turned into “e-shopppers” as they did not have to visit physical retail stores anymore and trudge along the entire day to find products of their choice. The possibility of ordering any item online from the comfort of home or office did sound irresistible. However, e-shoppers gradually started encountering several issues while shopping online and during product delivery especially related to last mile delivery. Persistent delivery problems turn customers away either to a competitor’s site or make them hesitant opting for online shopping in the future. To overcome these issues, the e-commerce industry in India needed a comprehensive solution, and they got it in the form of automated parcel locker service.
The Last Mile Delivery Concern — Self-service Lockers can be Saviours
It is true that the e-commerce revolution has expanded the horizon of both the retail industry and consumers. At the same time, it has been posing major logistical challenges. An article published in the Business Standard in July 2015 states that 70-80 per cent of orders that e-commerce companies such as Snapdeal and Flipkart receive are from the remote non-metro areas in India. Amazon, for example, boasts to have delivered a package to pin code 790002, which is a place called ‘Balemu’ located in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district.
To deliver parcels to remotest of the places, and ensure customer satisfaction, delivery people of the e-commerce companies often have tough times. A Wall Street Journal report has revealed how courier boys carry parcels weighing 20-46 kg in large backpacks, and haul online purchased items down narrow alleys and up flights of stairs. The nature of products includes everything from mobile phones, laser printers to kitchen appliances. In the process, deliveries get delayed on many occasions and due to the reasons mentioned earlier.
Despite the genuine challenges the delivery guys face, consumers expect on-time delivery as they shell out a significant amount of shipping charges while buying and want value for their money. This is the reason why click & collect or automated parcel delivery terminals will witness explosive growth in India.
Natalie Berg, Global Research Director, Planet Retail states that —
“Two of the biggest barriers to buying online are cost of delivery and inconvenient delivery times, making click & collect an increasingly attractive option for both shoppers and retailers. Fulfilment is poised to be the next big battleground in retail.”
In 2014, Planet Retail surveyed 15,000 consumers across 10 major e-commerce markets, which are China, UK, USA, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, and Japan to get a clear picture of multi-channel shoppers. The survey revealed consumer spending across 14 product categories including PC/laptop, mobile, and tablets. The study also focused on the reasons that influence spending decisions and choice of retailers where efficient delivery services emerged as one of the key factors considered by consumers.
Considering the significance of fast and cost-effective delivery services, e-commerce giants in India are getting into strategic partnerships with self-service locker service providers. Recently, Oriflame and Shopclues partnered with Smartbox to streamline their deliveries. These initiatives may prove to be highly beneficial both for consumers and the ecommerce companies by providing seamless last mile delivery.
“Bring it on” – India has geared up for Automated Parcel Lockers
As automated parcel delivery terminals are increasingly getting integrated into the mainstream delivery, the hassle of waiting for hours for a delivery to arrive is disappearing. The monotony of hanging around for a much anticipated parcel only to discover that the delivery is missed and the courier guy is nowhere to be seen will not bother e-shoppers anymore.
Missed deliveries are frustrating for both consumers and e-commerce companies. If consumers coordinate and rearrange the appointment, more waiting lies ahead, and e-shops incur additional courier costs for further delivery attempts. On the other hand, if consumers choose an automated parcel delivery terminal as their delivery option while shopping, they can collect their package as per their convenience, and without having to compromise on their everyday schedule. The lockers provide greater delivery security and confidence to consumers, and in turn, boost sales and confidence among e-commerce companies. This is just the beginning, automated delivery terminals like Smartbox will pave the way for future of deliveries.