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Now, smart lockers solve your delivery dilemmas

With last-mile deliveries and repeated delivery attempts constituting almost 50% of cost for e-commerce players, industry trackers consider the infrastructure a win-win for all stakeholders.

Sep 26, 2019, 11.10 AM IST
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(This story originally appeared in on Sep 26, 2019)
Chennai: If your biggest problem this festive season is coordinating parcel deliveries, smart lockers — a growing phenomenon in large IT parks and residential complexes — can come to your rescue. Doing away with a need to physically collect parcels from an over-burdened security person at your office or apartment complex, a one-time-password sent to your mobile phone is all you need to open the locker, and pick up and get your shopping packages. Though at a nascent stage, startups such as Qikpod and Smartbox tie up with real estate operators in high-density urban areas to set up the locker infrastructure, which uses cloud-computing, RFID, QR codes, and other tech.

With last-mile deliveries and repeated delivery attempts constituting almost 50% of cost for e-commerce players, industry trackers consider the infrastructure a win-win for all stakeholders.

Launched in 2015, raising around $9 million from Flipkart’s logistics arm Ekart, Accel Partners, and others, QikPod has set up “hundreds of locker terminals” across prime commercial and residential locations such aslike Bengaluru’s Embassy, Manyata and others and RMZ and Ascendas in Chennai. QikPod currently has basic integrations with the back-end technology of Flipkart and Blue Dart, and is also working on a universal service that will allow users to receive parcels of all kinds via QikPod lockers. The startup expects to be in at least 25 cities with several hundred terminals in each city. While short-term deals season do not result in long-term infrastructure creation in the sector, Gururaj expects most lockers to be operating at almost 100% of their capacity this upcoming retail season compared to 75-100% in other days, Ravi Gururaj, founder, QikPod, said

"We plan to encourage users to pick up parcels faster by nudging them with more reminders [this festive season] and thus will also be able to receive more rounds of deliveries in a day starting from an early run in the morning," he said. Noida’s Smartbox awaits the day consumers will be able to choose the lockers as delivery destination of choice at the check-out stage. Currently, delivery into lockers is enabled through manual sortation at distribution hubs in the absence of closer integrations with e-commerce systems. With around 200 terminals across Bengaluru, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Mumbai and other cities, the startup is also entering Chennai setting up parcel locker at a major private bank’s premises.

Smartbox expects “2x-3x” growth in parcel movements in the festive season. “It is possible to achieve 50% of deliveries through lockers in five years if deeper tech integrations with e-commerce players can be established,” Amit Sawhney, co-founder, Smartbox, said.

Kushal Nahata, co-founder and CEO of logistics tech startup FarEye says festive seasons are all about delivering fast to match peak demands, and lockers make it possible to “drastically increase successful first attempts.” FarEye’s platform has already been incorporated by post and parcel organizations to drive seamless deliveries through locker and parcel shops.
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