Earlier this month, I posted a piece musing about the possibility of home delivery becoming a bigger lever for sustainable living. One of the big challenges there, of course, is that we're not always home, and leaving packages on our stoop is not always safe.
Packstations are sort of like neighorhood parcel ATMs: they hold packages which couldn't be delivered to you directly for you to claim with a swipe card and a pin. You get SMS'd or emailed a notification and pick up the package at your convenience. You can also send packages out. They seem to work:
The 24/7 service is popular. About 570,000 people have registered for the Packstation service so far, and the trend continues. Some 700 Packstations currently operate throughout Germany. By the end of 2007, some 150 machines will be added in an additional 20 German cities and municipalities. The services offered by the machines will also be expanded this year.
This seems to me a perfectly decent solution to part of the problem.
Anyone know of other interesting innovations in this field?
I love my Packstation! It's the only way I can work as much as I do and not barrage my neighbors with my amazon book orders.
However, not all online vendors work together with Packstation - especially if they use a logistics provider other than DHL (logistics provider connected to Deutsche Post AG). Practically speaking, this means that its use for home orders in the context of sustainability is questionable at this point in time.
In short, its a great service but suffers marginally from the lack of cooperation of DHL with 3rd party logistics providers.
The real sustainable model will be alliances that support existing authorized shipping outlets and or branded stores for package acceptance. The local shipping outlet would benefit from increased foot traffic that would likely increase business overall. After all, not everyone needs a mailbox but many customers need someone to accept and secure their packages until they can be retrieved at the customer's convenience.
A progressive customer focused organization would likely pay the shipping outlet a nominal fee for accepting the customers package. In many current cases those fees are paid by the customer's now or waved entirely. Some shipping outlets are currently paid for accepting packages that will be picked up later that day by a scheduled carrier. Applying this model to deliveries is therefore the next logical evolution that solves that problem of not being home to sign for important deliveries.
Okay, I hate to be a downer, but this a great way to make sure you get a personalized letter bomb directly to your target.
The concept of home delivery is not really new is it? When my parents were growing up in the 60s-70s, their moms would phone in their order to the grocer and a couple of hours later, the goods would arrive at the door. And of course, don't forget the milkman. This was before most women worked outside the home and when each family only had one car. I think we could see a resurgence of these kinds of community based services as more people work from their homes. These little post boxes may be just the thing!
I don't think this model would work as well with clothing. This is off topic a bit but sort of relevant. I live in Vietnam and one thing I love about living here is that you can go to a tailor and have virtually anything made for you and you don't have to pay a ton of money for it. I wish that we could see a resurgence of these kinds of businesses in our communities as well. The key creating sustainable communities is having access to good quality necessities available within a short distance. I think we're doing better with food but with clothes, not so much. Locally made clothes still tend to be prohibitively expensive for most people. (i sew and knit so this is an issue close to my heart!)
Don't want to be a downer but thats the problem with all parcels, innit? ;)