Parcel Lockers – How smart lockers CRUSH the last-mile delivery issue

. Reading time: 6 min.

Joao Lopes
Joao Lopes

If you’ve seen a smart locker lately, it’s likely that they were parcel lockers.

Parcel delivery smart lockers are not a revolutionary concept – in fact, the logic behind it can be dated back to when mailboxes were invented:

A safe place where you can leave an item that can only be picked up by the receiver.

This concept is very simple to implement with letters or paper items – that’s how the typical mailbox was born.

Jump further many decades to witness the birth and the rise of e-commerce.

This led to parcel deliveries booming and becoming a big part of the sum of all deliveries.

Allied to the rise and adoption of digital communications forms, such as email over the traditional paper.

This resulted in logistics and post companies witnessing a major shift in their business.

Less and less paper letters, more and more parcels – and that’s still the trend. 

This trend is making mailboxes increasingly obsolete – since most parcels are too big for them.

All of this created the need for a different and more sophisticated type of system.

And that’s how Smart Lockers entered the parcel delivery business.

typical mailbox obsolete

The Benefits of parcel lockers

The use of parcel delivery lockers brings many advantages: for the end-user, for the Logistics or Post company, and even for society.

That’s the reason why we’re starting to see more and more parcel locker networks in the West – and why they’re already considered basic infrastructure in some Asian countries.

So let’s break down the benefits of parcel lockers networks by groups.

For the end-user

To simply put it – Parcel Lockers present an alternative cheaper option for the end-user.

Lockers are also always available to receive your parcels.

While a lot of us order our parcels to our office or house, many are not home during typical delivery hours and don’t work in an office.

Those in that ‘gray area’ now have a valid option – either using a public available parcel locker or installing a residential parcel locker.

It also makes the experience of having to return an online purchased item much more simple. Simply deposit it on the locker, and notify the courier.

At, we believe User Experience is the key to create a strong service.

That’s why we focused on making our OS parcel system is as simple and intuitive to operate as possible.

Logistic and Post companies

Perhaps they’re the ones that have the most to gain.

Logistic and Post companies make money by charging end-consumers or companies to deliver their items.

The premise of their business is simple. They deliver items.

Delivering items has costs – and these companies spend billions annually improving infrastructure and doing R&D to reduce them. 

Decreasing costs allows them to be more competitive and to have better margins.

Most of the costs reside on the last mile of the delivery process – up to 53% of the total cost of the delivery.

Parcel delivery lockers allow them to reduce the costs associated with delivering a parcel.

And it’s simple to understand why – if a courier has to deliver 30 parcels, door-to-door, he will have to make a route with 30 stops.

On the other hand, if he’s delivering those same 30 parcels on a smart locker, he will make only one trip.

Making the last mile much more efficient.

This allows these companies to:

  • Save couriers time, since the routes are shorter – which will result in higher productivity.
  • Save on costs related to trips such as fuel and vehicle maintenance.

Not only that but there’s also no risk of the receiver not being able to pick up the parcel. Therefore, no additional trips for delivery re-attempts.

In the UK, failed deliveries cost was close to 1.6 billion € in 2018, so there’s a clear incentive to solve this problem.

The economic incentives are great – that’s why we’re witnessing companies like Amazon and DHL investing heavily in creating their own parcel lockers networks.

dhl parcel delivery smart locker
A typical DHL Smart Locker

Society at Large

Some of the consequences of the implementation of parcel lockers networks were not planned initially.

From reducing traffic congestion in cities – since delivery cars have to make fewer trips.

To the fact that making fewer trips will result in lower CO2 emissions, making it also a more environmentally friendly option.

We can conclude it also benefits the city and the society living there.

This had led to Smart Lockers being a key component of the Smart City infrastructure.

smart cities parcel lockers impact
Summary of the impact of using parcel network systems

Adoption & Success stories

Perhaps the easiest way to notice the success of parcel delivery networks is to take a look at countries that have widely adopted them.

Such an example is the one of China – which has one of, if not the most, efficient parcel delivery system in the world.

Obviously, it would be unfair to attribute this success only to the wide adoption of smart parcel lockers. 

In fact, there are many other innovations and key technologies that contribute to this achievement.

Nevertheless, parcel delivery smart lockers play a major role. 

It’s not hard to understand this when there are over 800.000 smart lockers across China. More than all other countries in the world combined.

Logistic companies have realized this – that’s why it’s increasingly easier to run into an Amazon or DHL Locker in the West.

It is also why most national post companies are increasingly eager to create their own networks of Smart Lockers.

Parcel lockers crowd china
Parcel Lockers in a warehouse in China


Taking a look at the current trends, seeing how eCommerce is expected to have steady growth and how much more people will live in urban areas. 

It’s predictable that there will be increasingly more investment from Post and Logistic companies to solve their last-mile cost issues.

Therefore, you shouldn’t be surprised if a smart locker pops up in your street, or in the metro station that you usually use.

If you’re a Logistics or Post company – looking to create their own parcel lockers network system. Let’s talk!

Our OS allows for quick setup, customization, and deployment of fully operating parcel lockers networks.

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