Ideas on parcel locker network

I was pleased to read about plans to build infrastructure to simplify the final distribution of ordered goods, now that e-commerce is becoming more popular ("Nationwide parcel locker network in the works"; yesterday).

For e-commerce companies, the final delivery of goods to customers can be a very costly operation.

In some countries, the delivery set-up is such that customers go to a common pick-up point to collect their goods.

In such systems, the delivery person does not have to go to a customer's specified premises, cutting down on costs.

Before we start building massive infrastructure for this parcel locker network, we could consider looking at existing locations.

Petrol stations, hawker centres, malls, community centres and even MRT stations could serve as locations for these lockers.

We should also consider making the lockers suitable and convenient enough for families to pick up groceries and other daily necessities, should online shopping for these items become more popular.

These lockers could also be located at condominiums and Housing and Development Board (HDB) blocks, and function like letter boxes.

A delivery person can unlock a hatch to deposit the parcel, and the home owner can then retrieve the goods when he gets home.

Both delivery and retrieval can thus be done at each party's convenience.

Alick Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ideas on parcel locker network'. Subscribe