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.
Instead of having a shipping company go to each individual address with all of the packages and parcels they are set to deliver they instead head to one of these central hubs.
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).
After the shipping company arrives at a locker they will distribute packages throughout the locker itself, making a delivery note throughout their backend system and sending you tracking information so you know that your boxes have arrived.
From there, the parcel service will send you a notification that they are holding your packages.
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.
What to Look for in a Parcel Locker
Obviously, not all parcel locker services are created equally.
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 couple of important things to consider before you choose to move forward with any parcel locker platform.
For starters, you need to know that the parcel locker organization you are about to move forward with is 100% legitimate and has a solid reputation in the industry.
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.
As we highlighted above, 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’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.
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.
Secondly, 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.
Finally, 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, 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 is one of the most trusted names in the modern mailing services world, 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.
That’s right, US Global Mail can receive packages and parcels (from all major shippers with a street address as opposed to a PO Box number), scanned 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.
Check out their website today for more information.