Parcel locker solutions have absolutely exploded in popularity in just the last few years. Secure containers that allow major shipping companies and mailers (think UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the like) to deliver packages and parcels to, these lockers were originally designed to create a more efficient drop-off and delivery system for customers that couldn’t receive packages at home or a variety of different reasons.
Today, though, parcel locker services are starting to pop up in a variety of different locations that most wouldn’t have thought possible before. Retail outlets, shopping centers, grocery stores, and even convenience stores and libraries are getting in on the parcel locker action.
There are a lot of benefits to taking advantage of these kinds of services – both as a business owner as well as when you are looking to have packages delivered – and we are going to dig a little deeper into everything parcel lockers bring to the table in just a moment. Of course, there are also disadvantages and drawbacks to moving forward with these platforms, too. We cover the things you want to be on the lookout for when you sign up for a parcel locker service as well. Let’s jump right in to the action!
What is a Parcel Locker?
As we highlighted a moment ago, parcel lockers are basically secure shipping solutions that can be situated in a variety of different areas – retail locations, office reception areas, the lobby of hotels and apartments, libraries, etc. – where shipping companies drop-off entire deliveries in one central location. Originally conceived of as a method to really optimize the delivery route of the shipping companies, particularly in rural areas or heavy urban areas where individual address delivery takes a lot more time, today these containers are part of as more of a convenience for consumers as well.
Here’s a quick overview of how these parcel lockers work.
The way that parcel lockers work is pretty simple and straightforward. Instead of having a shipping company go to each individual address with your package, you’ll instead have your package rerouted to a parcel locker location of your choosing.
When it comes to delivery, your package will be dropped off at the secure parcel looker location by the shipping company of your choice. Depending on the parcel locker set up, the shipping companies will either have master keys to all of the individual parcel lockers (so that they can fill them) or will have access to a secure area on the backside of these lockers with access to fill them that way. Either way, the delivery happens the same way that it would pretty much anywhere else. The delivery driver arrives with your parcel, places it in your parcel locker, and then updates tracking that your package has been delivered.
On top of that tracking update (which is passive in nature and requires you to search for updates) you’ll also get a notification from top-quality parcel lockers in real time, letting you know that your package has been dropped off. This notification can come in the form of a text message, an email, a quick phone call, and update through a provided mobile application, or any combination of those communication options – and a bunch of others, too. At the end of the day, though, the big take away here is that you are going to be instantly notified the moment that your package and parcel has been dropped off.
You’re not going to have to wonder if your package has arrived. You’re not going to have to check tracking throughout the day to see if your package is actually there. Instead, you’ll be notified the moment that your package has arrived and is ready for pickup. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
After the parcel has been dropped off and you have been notified you’ll be provided with instructions for collection. Some parcel lockers use electronic key codes that are changed every time a new parcel is dropped off. With these kinds of setups you’ll receive a one time use only code that you can use to pop open the parcel locker and retrieve your package. All you have to do is key in the code that you’ve been provided directly on the keypad when you arrive.
Other parcel lockers will use QR code readers, barcode scanners, and other tools and technology to help you “pop the lock” on your parcel locker without giving unauthorized access to anyone else. Some parcel locker services even use more traditional numbered key retrieval setups. With these kinds of lockers, you’ll usually have to speak to someone on staff, prove that you are who you say you are (that you have permission to retrieve the package), and they’ll give you a key to be returned after you open up your locker. Either way, you’ll be given unique and specific access to the parcel locker that holds your package and only that parcel locker. Nobody else is going to be able to get into that locker until you retrieve your package.
Parcel locker platforms can accept packages from every major shipping and mailing organization, though some are “branded” specifically to deal with packages and parcels from companies like Amazon (for example). You have an opportunity to go to these storage solutions at your convenience to get your hands on your package, and that’s one of the biggest benefits of moving forward with this kind of arrangement. After arriving at the parcel locker location you the will be able to use a key (a physical key provided to you when arrive at the locker, when you sign up for your parcel locker subscription, or a digital key that works with your smart phone/password) so that you can gain access to the individual locker that has your items. And that’s it! It’s about as simple and as straightforward a drop-off solution as can be.
Benefits of Parcel Locker
There are a whole bunch of benefits to utilizing a parcel locker service and we run through all of the big ones below.
The biggest and most obvious benefit that you’ll enjoy when you start using parcel locker services is the ability to secure your packages when you aren’t home to receive them personally. Millions of people all over the country have come home after getting a “Delivered” notification in their tracking info only to discover that their package was destroyed or stolen – something that wouldn’t have happened if they were home to receive that package in person directly.
At the same time, most folks aren’t able to take the day off of work when they have a couple of packages from Amazon getting dropped off. Parcel lockers provide a safe, secure, and easy to leverage solution that eliminates a lot of the risk that you would have had to worry about with your packages being left out on the porch or in the driveway for hours and hours.
Parcel lockers also provide safe and secure access to packages that have to be dropped off in more densely populated areas, including multi family houses, apartment complexes, and neighborhoods that get a lot of foot traffic.
Another big benefit to utilizing parcel lockers is the ability to retrieve your packages in a safe and secure location. Post offices (for one reason or another) sometimes aren’t set up in the friendliest of neighborhoods. Sometimes it’s not that good of an idea to swing by the post office after dark and come out with a bunch of packages. With parcel locker locations, though, these locations have been carefully selected to be as safe and as secure as possible. Almost all parcel locker locations are in busy, well lit locations with additional security features.
We are talking about surveillance camera technology, property managers, customer service professionals working on a 24/7 basis, and sometimes even unarmed or armed security. Parcel locker locations that are tucked into commercial properties (like shops, department stores, grocery stores, etc.) benefit from the safety and security solutions implemented by those commercial operations themselves, too. You won’t have to worry about safety when you’re retrieving packages from your parcel locker!
Another big piece of the puzzle behind why people love parcel locker services has to do with the convenience that they offer. As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing worse than worrying about a package that was delivered early in the morning or midafternoon knowing that you aren’t going to be home to grab that package off your steps or front porch until later in the day – maybe even later that night. With a parcel locker, though, that package could be dropped off at any point in time (day or night) and you’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it isn’t going anywhere until you get around to picking it up.
Maybe you pop over during your lunch break and retrieve your package from your parcel locker. Maybe you wait until you’re done with work and slide over before you go home. Maybe you wait until you head out for dinner that night, grabbing your package before or after your meal. Maybe you wait until the next morning or the next afternoon! You are in the driver seat. You are in total control. That’s a huge change from having your package delivered randomly throughout the day, dependent entirely upon the kind of schedule that your delivery driver is working with that day.
How to Choose a Parcel Locker Service
Obviously, not all parcel locker services are created equally. A big part of being happy with your parcel locker experience is working only with quality parcel locker setups to begin with. With so many different operations offering this kind of service you can’t just “wing it” and hope for the best. You really need to do your research to be sure that the parcel locker set up you’re moving forward with is safe, trustworthy, and reliable.
Some options are significantly better than others, even on a case-by-case basis, and you’ll want to be sure that you know exactly what you are getting into when you choose to take advantage of these parcel locker solutions. Here are a few important things to consider before you choose to move forward with any parcel locker platform.
The reputation of the parcel locker services you’re thinking about using – not just nationally or statewide, but locally and at that specific location as well – is critically important. Never decide to have a package dropped off at a parcel locker on a whim. Instead research the reputation of that company, the safety and security of that specific location, and be sure that you know exactly what you are getting into before you reroute your package there.
The last thing you want to do is have your important packages, online purchases, and sensitive parcels sent to a parcel locker that you can confirm is going to actually handle your personal and private property the way that you would. Some parcel locker services have a much better reputation than others – but most are pretty rock solid, most are on the up and up, and most of the popular options can be trusted right out of the gate. The odds are pretty good that if the folks at UPS, FedEx, DHL, and Amazon trust a parcel locker in your area than you are going to be able to trust them as well.
Secondly, you’ll want to make sure that the parcel locker services you signed up for (or the one that you are using every now and again) has all the features that you’re after.
- Is it important that you have 24/7 access to the parcel locker retrieval area?
- Is it important that the parcel lockers are oversized and can accommodate (almost) any package imaginable?
- Is it important that the parcel lockers have almost overboard security systems in place to guarantee your package never goes missing?
- Is it important that these parcel lockers are located in climate controlled areas or can they be stuck outside?
- What kind of locker security system will you used to retrieve your package?
All of these things need to be researched before you decide to go in one direction or another.
Thirdly, you’re going to want to double verify that parcel locker is convenient enough to visit whenever you have packages that need to get picked up. A lot of people jump online search for a parcel locker service in their area, and then never really drill down to figure out exactly where that specific parcel locker is before they start sending packages there. Then they find themselves having to drive clear across town or way out of their way just to get a couple of packages every now and again, a real nightmare scenario that most folks would like to avoid whenever possible.
The best parcel lockers from the most reputable companies with all the features you’d ever want to use ending up 50 miles away from you won’t be all that helpful. Just double check and confirm that your closest parcel locker actually is on your “daily route” or nearby locations where you run errands or do a bit of shopping. The more convenient you can make this process the more likely you are to take advantage of it.
Lastly, you’ll want to investigate the security solutions available at a parcel locker. Most of the time these parcel lockers are inside of a private business or private property, and you’ll be given an access code or a key to get in on a 24/7 basis – really locking down and securing your packages.
Sometimes, though, that’s not exactly the case and you’re dealing with a parcel locker that’s attached to the outside of the building that may or may not be all that secure. You want to be sure that only you are going to have access to the specific locker that your items are going to be in. You don’t need people rifling through your packages to find their own and maybe “accidentally” taking some of your purchases home with you.
It’s not a bad idea to make sure that your parcel locker is in a decent part of town where you don’t have to worry about “package pirates” waiting for people to come to their storage lockers so that they can liberate your items when you come to retrieve them. Sadly that happens a whole lot more frequently than most people want to consider and it’s certainly something that you’ll want to avoid whenever possible.
What are the Advantages of Parcel Lockers?
There are a lot of big advantages to using a parcel locker, and we are going to highlight some of the most impactful ones below. Right out of the gate, the fact that you get guaranteed delivery with every single shipping company out there with a parcel locker is maybe the most advantageous reason to choose this service in the first place.
Individuals that live in rural areas understand how annoying it is to do a bit of online shopping only to discover that the company they want to do business with cannot send them packages to their physical address via traditional mailing solutions. Sure, sometimes you’re going to be able to rely on USPS to take your packages from UPS, FedEx, and other services and handle the “last mile” for you – but that’s not always going to be the case.
On top of that, if you are a USPS PO Box customer the odds are pretty good that your postmaster is going to get unhappy with you having packages pile up in their office because they can’t be delivered to your street address. A parcel locker eliminates all of those problems completely. It’s a happy medium for both you and the shipping companies, guaranteeing a simple and straightforward delivery for the shipping services as well as a simple, secure, and reliable pickup service for you.
Security is another huge advantage you enjoy when you choose to take advantage of parcel locker options. As we highlighted above, “package pirate” problems have absolutely exploded in just the last few years. Even if you live in a nice neighborhood there’s no guarantee that you won’t have to worry about people liberating your packages off of your porch, even if you have a remote video camera set up in place to watch it happen or provide evidence when you call the police. Secure package and parcel lockers eliminate those worries completely. Your packages are always in the possession of the shipping agent or the locker itself, never exposed to the “general public”, and never left unattended or unaccounted for at any point in time.
Lastly, the fact that you are in total control over how and when you go to pick up your packages is another big part of why people choose parcel lockers every day. Never again you have to worry about rushing to the post office before they close to get your package, and you don’t have to worry about erratic delivery schedules from UPS or FedEx at your home, either. Instead you know that your package is going to be inside of your locker after it’s been delivered whenever you feel like popping down and picking it up, regardless of whether or not that’s first thing when you get out of work, after dinner, or in the middle of the night! You are in total control of when you receive your packages with this approach!
Are There Any Important Disadvantages of Parcel Lockers to Know About?
There are also a couple of (obvious) disadvantages to moving forward with parcel lockers that you’ll want to be aware of, not least of which is the extra expense. Even USPS GoPost lockers can get a little bit expensive if you need to take advantage of Extra security features or 24/7 access, and the same can be said about UPS Access Points, DHL Lockers, FedEx Ship ; Get, and Amazon Lockers.
Secondly, you might not have all that many parcel locker locations in your region at this particular point in time. Remember, these kinds of shipping solutions are still relatively new and haven’t been as widely adapted across the board as some people might expect. If you live in a big city the odds are pretty good that you have a handful of different lockers to pick and choose from in your immediate vicinity. But if you live in a smaller city, a smaller town, or a rural area the truth is you might only have one or two options that are even halfway convenient to access – or you may not have any to take advantage of at all yet.
Lastly, you are physically going to have to go and pick up your packages and parcels from these lockers at some point in time. Most lockers (especially those that offer free services) require you to come and get your packages out of the locker within 3 to 5 business days. The USPS Go Post lockers allow you to keep your packages and parcels in those secure containers for up to 15 business days, but any longer than that and you’re going to have to start ponying up some extra cash or run the risk of your boxes being returned to sender to make room for someone else.
US Global Mail – A New Way to Receive Mail
At the end of the day, there’s another approach to modernizing your mailbox and retrieving your mail – not just your packages, but all your mail – securely that doesn’t involve parcel lockers. If you love the idea of taking advantage of a parcel locker but can’t find a great solution in your local area you’ll want to take a closer look at US Global Mail.
US Global Mail has been a trusted name in the modern mailing services world for the past 20+ years, providing you with the opportunity to not only take advantage of a virtual mailbox solution and mail scanning services but also to leverage top-tier mail forwarding options – including for all packages and parcels. T
There’s a reason why thousands and thousands of people rely on US Global Mail to handle all of their mailbox needs – including acting as a parcel locker services on steroids.
You see, when you have a Virtual Mailbox with US Global Mail you’ll be able to route all of your packages (from any shipping provider) to the address you’ve been provided with. Not only will you get an instant notification as soon mail or packages arrive at your Virtual Mailbox, but you’ll also get that mail and package scanned immediately, a copy uploaded to your client dashboard, and then you’ll have the ability to choose what happens next.
US Global Mail can receive packages and parcels (from all major shippers with a street address as opposed to a PO Box number), scan them as they arrive so you know exactly what has been received, and then either hold them for your local pickup or reroute and forward them to any address of your choice – all as part of your US Global Mail account.
A lot of people leverage the up to 80% off savings on mail forwarding to almost any address on the planet from US Global Mail to have that package sent to them directly – but there are other options available, too.
For more information about US Global Mail and the Virtual Mailbox solutions they provide, check out their website today.