Delivering on parcel lockers

Online shopping has been all the rage in recent years.

According to findings from a 2014 survey by PayPal, online shopping in Singapore has grown 38 per cent per year since 2011.

Total spending for last year was projected at $4.8 billion and is expected to grow to $6.9 billion by 2018.

In tandem with the growth of e-commerce, logistics companies have also sprouted.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's announcement of the roll-out of a nationwide locker system comes at an opportune time.

Logistics, especially last-mile delivery, is an extremely manpower-intensive venture, especially since the miss rate for home deliveries can be high.

One way to get around this problem is to place conveniently located lockers around the island so that the shopper can pick up his wares at his leisure.

Singapore Post has led the way in this regard and introduced its version of parcel lockers, called POPStations, back in 2013.

When a package is ready for collection, an e-mail or SMS with a code will be sent, which they can then scan at a Pick Own Parcel Station, also known as PopStation. PHOTO: ST FILE

It currently has about 140 POPStations and has plans to roll these out overseas as well.

Logistics players say the new move will raise efficiency, productivity and eventually lower costs, which they hope to pass on to consumers.

Consumers may have to change their attitude towards deliveries and walk a fair distance to retrieve their parcels.

But if the location is not too far from their homes, the adjustment may not be much.

The other question is cost and who will foot the bill for the network.

A good model would be a public-private partnership, where everyone takes a stake in a national infrastructure that will help grow the industry.

If implemented well, the national locker system will result in a win-win proposition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Delivering on parcel lockers'. Print Edition | Subscribe