This article originally appeared in the January/February, 2018 issue of PARCEL

This was a successful and challenging peak season. Most volumes have exceeded projections, which has put pressure on the carriers to meet their customers’ delivery expectations. However, there is a bigger problem that is getting more and more exposure: theft of parcels from doorsteps and apartment/condo foyers. The result is a growing demand for safer and convenient delivery. The amount of parcels that are being delivered is growing exponentially, and by default, so is the theft of these parcels. Having free two-day delivery means nothing if the parcel is not there when you expect it.

The standard mailbox was designed to handle letters, magazines, and very small packages, but in today’s world, consumers are buying just about anything. Some of the new dimensional rate rules that the major carriers have deployed in the past couple of years are driving merchants to optimize their box sizes with a goal that it will fit in a standard mailbox. However, this is only covering a small portion of the shipments.

Here are some of the other strategies that are being deployed to handle this problem:

1. Ship to a local store (own or partner)

2. Amazon Key

3. Customized delivery time

4. Parcel lockers

The ship-to-store option has been around for a while, but despite being convenient for returns, it is not as convenient as having your package delivered directly to your home. The Amazon Key solution is designed to give the Amazon driver access to a home, but is still in an early development stage. While this solution is convenient, it creates a lot of obvious risks on all fronts. The customized delivery option by the carriers is helping consumers receive their package when and where they want it. However, providing effective delivery routes when delivery is customized can be challenging for the carriers.

The parcel lockers strategy seems the most promising. These lockers have become a staple delivery option in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. They are beginning to gain traction in the US. I recently spoke with Nigel Thomas, CEO of GoLocker, and he stated: “Parcel lockers provide great convenience in both delivery and shipping of parcels. If strategically located, they are a safe, secure, and convenient option for parcel deliveries and reverse logistics operations.” GoLocker has established strategic locations throughout the New York City area. The utilization of parcel lockers will be a hot topic in the US in 2018. These lockers can provide operational efficiencies to the carriers, and most importantly, convenience and peace of mind to the consumers. A win-win for all parties.

Michael J. Ryan is the Executive Vice President at Preferred Parcel Solutions and has over 25 years of experience in the parcel industry. He can be reached at 708.224.1498 or .