Smart Boxes. Smart Move!

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Property Developers take note. They’re about to pop up everywhere. Smart boxes that allow secure delivery and exchange of items such as parcels, laundry and groceries. What was predicted during the first Internet boom is now finally starting to materialise in shopping centers, residential apartment buildings, laundries, petrol stations and post offices around the world.

The problem this technology solves is the need for secure delivery or exchange of items that are bought online and need to be delivered in a manner that is secure and convenient for both the courier and the recipient.

And it’s not a small problem to be sneezed at. Frost & Sullivan estimates that in Australia alone, the market for online parcel delivery grew almost 18 per cent in value to $16 billion last year, from $13.6 billion in 2011, and expects to rise to $26.9 billion by 2016.

We’ve all been there before. Tick the box. Yes home delivery. Hang on. Not sure if I’ll be there, maybe I’ll divert it through the office mailroom. Add special instructions to allow for a range of scenarios just in case. Either way, the problem of the inconvenience, and the nuances of the local post office and each individual courier service is frustrating to say the least. There must be a better way.

Enter the Smart box.


Right now it seems like everyone is getting on board. Australia PostColes Click & CollectA.D.A.M.Pitney BowesAmazonWal-MartGoogle BufferboxDroplockerPaczkomatyCitybox,  have all developed solutions but the technologies are pretty similar and the concept goes something like this.

  • – Order your item online.
  • – Designate a smartbox delivery address where your details are registered.
  • – Courier arrives at Smartbox address and checks in.
  • – The courier nominates the size of the parcel they have (S, M, L) and a suitable size locker door pops open.
  • – Once the door is locked with your consignment safely stored inside, the courier can notify that their delivery has been completed.
  • – You then receive an SMS text notification and special PIN unlock code advising that your parcel has arrived with instructions on how to retrieve it.

Of course there are variations on how this works and even laundry services are getting on board with a similar approach such as the highly innovative Laundry Locker service based in Francisco and Australian Coles Click & collect Service.

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Property Developers need to start taking note! More and more people are ordering online and increasing the demand for delivery of small mail items, irregular size parcels, wine, laundry, dry and perishable groceries. Mail rooms everywhere are hurting and many companies are grappling with how to deal with this problem.

The knock on effect is creating a spatial demand in commercial offices, residential apartments and shopping centers that involves new design thinking. Space is valuable, so a smarter way to deal with this problem is essential. Developers could use this technology as an opportunity to: provide a value add service for tenants or residents, provide self service mail room options, reduce space allocation within buildings, align to third party service providers etc. There are many options to explore.

The key point to recognise is that in our increasingly online world, change is inevitable. Now is the time to revisit a better, smarter and more convenient way to handle the delivery of packages of all shapes and sizes into your building.

Are Smart boxes the answer? Or are they just a new tool as part of a bigger logistics ecosystem?