SINGAPORE - Customers of online retailers Lazada, Qoo10 and Taobao who live in Punggol or Bukit Panjang can now choose to collect their purchases from lockers at their Housing Board blocks.
This is thanks to a government-initiated parcel collection system, Locker Alliance, which launched a year-long pilot scheme on Friday (Dec 7).
It is a key step in the Federated Lockers Network and Collection Points Programme, which was first raised in 2016 by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
A unique feature of Locker Alliance is an interoperable platform that provides access to different industry players - from locker operators and logistics service providers to e-marketplaces.
Lockers currently are owned by different operators, each with their own computer systems, which limits delivery efficiency across the island.
When Locker Alliance is implemented islandwide, logistics service providers can expect to see a 50 per cent reduction in distances travelled by delivery drivers and a fivefold increase in the number of parcels that can be delivered a day, said Mr Tan Kiat How, chief executive of statutory board Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), which launched the pilot programme.
"This in turn will support the exponential growth in e-commerce locally and regionally," he added.
Revenue in Singapore's e-commerce market is estimated to be more than $5.5 billion this year and projected to nearly double in the next four years.
Such a parcel collection system may also help improve road congestion by streamlining deliveries and cutting down on failed deliveries.
"Every time you have a missed connection, you require another trip. This adds to congestion, the demand on parking spaces, on loading and unloading bays. This ultimately means we are increasing the amount of pollution, congestion and noise pollution," said Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, at the launch at Oasis Terraces, an integrated development in Punggol and one of the locker locations.
There are currently 62 locker sites at HDB blocks across Punggol and Bukit Panjang.
Lockers have also been set up at four MRT stations in the west - Bukit Panjang, Chinese Garden, Lakeside and Boon Lay - and another four in the north-east - Punggol, Sengkang, Buangkok and Hougang.
There were no details on how many locker sites there will be eventually, but IMDA said talks are ongoing with different industry players to join the project.
Locker Alliance now has 15 companies on board, including locker operators SingPost and Blu, as well as online merchants such as Lazada, Qoo10 and Taobao.
Lazada eLogistics Singapore's chief executive Pierre de Bellescize said: "It is a win-win solution for customers to enjoy fuss-free parcel collection, while maximising the potential for every delivery vehicle of our logistics partners."
Said research analyst Wayne Lau, 27, who makes online purchases about once a month: "The lockers make sense and I'd rather use them than miss the parcel delivered to my home, which can be frustrating."
He added he is considering using the lockers at Hougang MRT, near where he lives.
Future applications of Locker Alliance may even include laundry and medication, said IMDA.
There are also plans to take the locker network regional, as IMDA announced the signing of a memorandum of intent with regional locker operators in Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia to explore developing such a network.
This follows the Asean Agreement on Electronic Commerce signed last month which aims to create a more conducive e-commerce environment in the region.