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Parcel lockers and collection points are on the rise, but why are S’poreans slow to use them?

parcel locker singapore

In 2010, Singapore’s Parcel Post Centre cleared 1.5 million parcels. Fast forward to 2020, that number has increased to over 6.1 million parcels.

This is no surprise, considering how e-commerce platforms often boast about their sales numbers increasing year-on-year as more of us snap up online deals during mega-sales like 11.11 and 12.12.

However, during these periods, you might have also noticed a fine warning to expect shipping delays as demand for logistic services soar to get your shopping delivered to your doorstep.

To meet the demand, several logistics companies in Singapore told Vulcan Post that they are finding respite in parcel pick-up points, which provide a one-stop solution by removing the hassle of stopping by each individual household.

Yet, for consumers, direct delivery options still reign as the supreme choice despite the frequent delays. Does this mean that alternative delivery options like parcel pick-up points and parcel lockers are redundant? Also, what more can be done to encourage users to tap on these services?

Recipient not at home? “Just leave it in the dry riser”

Work-from-home arrangements has made direct deliveries more convenient for 34-year-old Samantha Lee as there is always someone at home to pick up parcels on her behalf.

While the nearest parcel locker is about five minutes away, she would rather opt for the convenience of getting her parcel delivered straight to her house despite paying extra for shipping fee. “It’s more convenient (that way),” she quipped.

The marketing manager was one of seven people that shared that they would rather opt for direct delivery services, citing reasons such as being home more, and that the added convenience outweighs the cost of delivery.

singapore parcel delivery door
Image Credit: Pick

“Even if nobody is home, it’s relatively safe to just leave (the parcel) outside my door. I’ll usually just tell (the delivery personnel) to put it in my dry riser if asked,” shared 31-year-old Brandon Ong.

For student Lee Pei Yi, she used to opt for e-commerce platform ezbuy’s neighbourhood collection point, but has since stopped using its services since the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020.

“I always opted for it because it was cheaper, but more people (were buying online) so the queue would take too long… and I needed to walk for about five minutes to reach (the collection point). I’d rather just pay extra (for direct delivery),” said the 22-year-old.

Logistics players still pushing for pickup services

parcel santa parcel locker singapore
Image Credit: Parcel Santa

Jim Huang, CEO of local parcel startup Parcel Santa, shared that it saw a large spike in deposits into its lockers in 2020 thanks to the pandemic.

For residents in condominiums, which Parcel Santa exclusively serves, lockers are a safer alternative with less face-to-face interaction.

“Residents understand that the parcel locker improves condo security, as well as promotes safe distancing measures, particularly in a post-COVID reality,” said Jim.

However, it saw a slight dip in 2021 — from 675,000 deposits in 2020 to 654,000 deposits in 2021 — owing to the reopening of physical retail outlets.

“I actually expected the negative impact (of retail stores reopening) to be even more pronounced, but our statistics show that Singaporeans are more used to online shopping and have retained this habit even after circuit breaker ended,” said Jim.

Beyond the convenience and safety provided by lockers, Jim shared one more draw: “There is a certain sublime joy in opening the locker and receiving the product securely which you have been expecting.”

“This saved our couriers a lot of time, but also made the community safer as a result.”

While the number of locker players has increased, the additional competition has also helped increase the acceptance of Parcel Santa’s services.

The increase in other parcel lockers in public housing areas such as the PICK Network lockers are truly complementary and speaks volumes of the sustainability and value of the lockers in the residential environment.

Residential lockers checks all the boxes in terms of security, safe distancing measures and convenience. So it has been a welcomed development for us and it has helped us secure more interest from other private residential communities to invite us into their estates.

– Jim Huang, CEO of Parcel Santa
pickupp
Image Credit: Pickupp

Meanwhile, another logistics provider Pickupp, started offering service points this year, allowing consumers to collect or drop off their parcels at a more affordable rate compared to its direct delivery option.

From the consumer/recipient’s perspective, many may already be used to the convenience of having items delivered to their doorstep.

As such, one of the challenges (in encouraging people to use collection points) would be ensuring that this self-pickup option is just as convenient for consumers such that they will be encouraged to opt for this service in exchange for a small saving on their end.

– Lee Chee Meng, Co-COO of Pickupp

However, Chee Meng said that these service points — which double up as satellite warehouses — help the company maximise their delivery efficiency and shorten delivery distances for their delivery agents.

Unlike pickup lockers, he said that their service points also value-add as warehouse storage and fulfilment.

“As there are actual personnel manning these warehouses, users who face difficulties can pose questions to our staff at any time,” he added.

“We also have plans to use these warehouses as a self-collection point for our e-commerce platform, Shop On Pickupp, where consumers can have the option of opting out of our delivery fee to self-collect their items or even walk-in to purchase these items.”

While the company did not provide any figures of its usage as the service is relatively new, he shared that they see mostly small-scale business owners in F&B, e-commerce, fashion and retail industries using the services, and expect to see more individual users in the future.

Additionally, Lee Ghim Hock, the Chief Operations Officer of Ninja Van Singapore, shared that the number of deliveries to parcel lockers has been low, but it is seeing “some growth”.

“The vast majority of shoppers are still opting for doorstep delivery, but we hope that this will change as consumer mindsets adapt to picking up at Ninja Points and PICK lockers,” he said.

“Not only will consumers get to enjoy increased convenience and accessibility, but the lockers will also increase productivity as it allows consolidation of deliveries and prevents wasted trips when consumers are unavailable. This is especially important as e-commerce grows, there is a finite number of delivery couriers and vehicles in Singapore.”

Some are warming up to the idea of parcel lockers and pick up points

parcel lockers and pick up points
Image Credit: IMDA

For avid online shopper Shannon (last name has been omitted upon request), who is in her 20s, she shared that parcel lockers have become her go-to when purchasing things online discreetly.

“My parents always open my deliveries, so there’s no privacy. Plus, parcel lockers are cheaper and I can just collect it while on the way home from school,” said the student.

For 53-year-old Ang Wei Ming, parcel lockers have helped his family stay safe as an extra precuation during the pandemic. He started using his condominium’s lockers since the circuit breaker to reduce contact with others as he lives with his mother who has a medical condition.

“We don’t need to make contact with anyone and can disinfect everything before entering the house. Also, it’s more convenient to pick up things than to constantly run to the door when it rings while working from home.”

Based on these responses, it’s heartening to see that some Singaporeans are warming up to the idea of alternative delivery options such as parcel lockers and pick-up points.

Such services have definitely seen growth in recent years, albeit shadowed by the bigger demand of direct-to-door delivery services.

Furthermore, such services also help logistic companies cope with the surge of parcels from increased online shopping. However, perhaps, more discounts are needed to be introduced to help make parcel pick-ups a more attractive alternative for consumers.

Additionally, as more lockers and pick-up services make its way around Singapore, its increased convenience will hopefully attract more users to opt to pick up their own parcels.

Featured Image Credit: blu

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