24/7 parcel lockers open for business

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 17, 2013

SINGAPORE Post is counting on its new PopStation (Pick Own Parcel Station) to deliver a bigger slice of the growing e-commerce pie.

The free service, which allows customers to pick up their parcels round the clock from an automated kiosk, was launched yesterday.

For now, it is available to the half a million customers who use SingPost's vPost service, which helps online shoppers buy items from overseas.

But PopStation will also be open to non-vPost users as SingPost is set to announce tie-ups with other e-retailers in the next three to six months.

"We hope that our investment (in PopStation) will grow the e-commerce sector here, which will in turn grow our parcel delivery business," said SingPost chief executive Wolfgang Baier.

Business tie-ups have yet to be firmed up, but he said they could be with popular local e-retailers like Zalora and Clout Shoppe.

The latest investment is part of a $40 million plan to automate its postal processes to hitch a ride on the growing e-commerce wagon.

A PayPal study showed that the online commerce market here grew from $1.1 billion in 2010 to $1.4 billion in 2011. The number is projected to hit $4.4 billion in 2015.

In 2011, SingPost delivered an average of 3.7 million parcels a month, up from 3.3 million in 2010 and 2.4 million in 2009 - which it attributed to the growing popularity of online shopping.

But about 20 per cent of the parcels SingPost handles do not reach their addressees due to unanswered doorbells.

Prior to PopStation's launch, SingPost conducted a one-month trial last month involving 500 users. SingPost found that about 80 per cent of the trial users retrieved their parcels within three days.

More than 60 per cent collected their parcels after office hours, and about 30 per cent of the collection was over the weekend, validating the need for PopStation, said Mr Baier.

Pre-school teacher Jasmine Kaur, 28, is excited about the new delivery option as she is not allowed to send parcels to her workplace. "I also do not have to rush to beat the closing hours of the post office any more," she said.

Measuring 7m by 2m - or about the size of a utility room - each PopStation comes with about 100 lockers of various sizes.

There are currently five PopStations. They are at the Paya Lebar, Bishan, Sengkang and Tanglin post offices, and at the National University of Singapore.

When a parcel is ready for collection, customers will get an e-mail or text message with a code. Users then go to the PopStation they selected, enter the code and the locker containing their package will pop open.

SingPost plans to roll out up to 100 of the locker systems, which are built by Australian firm TZ Limited, across the island by next year. It has invited the public to give feedback on where they would like additional PopStations to be located.

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 17, 2013

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