Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Low usage of nationwide collection lockers: Online shoppers rely more on home delivery but operator hopeful of pick-up

SINGAPORE — Parcel locker stations installed in public locations in a nationwide initiative rolled out over the last year have more often than not been left unused. Some online shoppers said that they saw no reason to use them when they can have items easily delivered to their doorstep instead. 

Pick Network parcel delivery locker station at the void deck of Block 718 Woodlands Avenue 6.

Pick Network parcel delivery locker station at the void deck of Block 718 Woodlands Avenue 6.

  • Pick Network operates a nationwide parcel locker network
  • It said that an average of 13 per cent of its lockers were used in the first three months of 2022
  • Online shoppers said that they had little reason to have parcels delivered to lockers when doorstep delivery is often cheap or free
  • Some said that they often do not get the option to have parcels delivered to a locker when shopping online
  • Pick said that while its usage rate may seem low, it is within its target for the year

SINGAPORE — Parcel locker stations installed in public locations in a nationwide initiative rolled out over the last year have more often than not been left unused. Some online shoppers said that they saw no reason to use them when they can have items easily delivered to their doorstep instead. 

Consumers who spoke to TODAY said that even if they wanted to use the lockers, they have never seen or were unaware of any option to have deliveries sent to parcel lockers on the e-commerce platforms they use.

The locker service operator Pick Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), said that between January and March, an average of 13 per cent of these lockers were utilised.

Since April last year, Pick has rolled out more than 1,000 locker stations in public areas — such as public housing estates, MRT stations and community clubs — and intends to deploy another 150 over the next three years.

Each locker station typically holds 40 to 50 lockers of varying sizes. Shoppers can have their parcels sent to these lockers and pick them up at any time.

Media reports have previously stated that each locker station can cost between S$15,000 and S$20,000.

The idea behind the initiative was to make parcel deliveries more efficient and environmentally friendly by having consolidated delivery points and cutting down on failed trips by delivery personnel when no one is home.

Other private-owned parcel lockers have been around before that, notably ones by operated by postal service Singapore Post (SingPost) and logistics firm Blu. 

The two firms were appointed by IMDA in 2018 in a nationwide programme to deploy and operate a parcel locker network, before it established Pick and took over the running of parcel lockers in public areas.

CONSUMERS FIND LITTLE REASON TO SWITCH

Despite having a parcel locker at the void deck of the housing block where she lives, tech professional Junel Seet said that she has never used it.

The 25-year-old said that the sites she often shops on — Shopee and Asos — have affordable or free doorstep deliveries and her family usually has someone at home to receive the parcels.

She added that she has never seen the option to have deliveries sent to the locker at her block when shopping online.

Engineer Ken Yoon, 27, said that he has used these lockers only on a few occasions when he was buying on classifieds marketplace Carousell and the seller asked for this delivery option.

Otherwise, he would rather opt for the convenience of having his items delivered to his doorstep, since the nearest parcel locker is a 20-minute bus ride from his house.

He said, however, that he may consider using locker services if he knows that no one will be home to collect the parcel. 

Similarly, architect Lim Ji Young said that she uses parcel lockers only when she needs to return a parcel because it is more convenient for her to drop the parcel off at her own convenience rather than have to stay home and wait for a deliveryman to pick up the package.

“One improvement could be to have more lockers around Singapore, especially around the central area and near MRT stations so that people can use them on their way to work,” the 28-year-old said.

One improvement could be to have more lockers around Singapore, especially around the central area and near MRT stations so that people can use them on their way to work.
Architect Lim Ji Young, 28

One consumer, however, said that he would happily use these lockers. 

Mr K Guru Prasanth, 27, who works as an engineer, said: “I'm all for supporting optimisation of last-mile delivery, which not only makes the process more efficient for logistics providers but also reduces the carbon footprint per delivery.” 

He added that there have been many instances where parcels were left at his doorstep because no one was at home. 

However, he has never used the locker service because he often shops directly on a brand’s website rather than through an e-commerce platform, and the online shopping sites he uses do not offer deliveries to parcel lockers.

Checks by TODAY found that online retailers such as Lazada offer deliveries to collection points that include lockers, but this option was not available for some products, such as those delivered by the sellers who make their own logistics arrangements.

Many of these collection points are located at shops.

Based on TODAY’s checks on Friday (July 29), e-retailer Shopee did not seem to list Pick’s lockers as collection points, but Lazada did.

Both firms declined comment for this report.

‘IT TAKES TIME’

In response to TODAY’s queries, Pick said that the 13 per cent usage rate was within the firm’s target for the year.

This is because Pick has been rolling out new lockers over the past year while also bringing on board new logistics service providers and merchants.

The network of 1,000 lockers were also installed with the intention of meeting the growing demand of e-commerce consumers in the next seven to 10 years, Pick added.

“The locker utilisation rate at the beginning might seem low, but is within our expectations.”

Asked what challenges Pick is facing in pushing for higher usage of its lockers, the firm said that allowing customers to choose to have their parcels delivered to lockers in the first place requires action from different players.

E-commerce platforms will need to have the option available when customers check out, while logistics providers will also have to offer delivery services to the lockers, the firm added.

“It takes time and effort to collaborate with these partners.” 

TODAY understands that e-commerce platforms may not have the option for deliveries to lockers for periods of time while they update their technology systems. 

And although having a consolidated delivery point means that logistics firms may have to make fewer trips, smaller logistic firms with lower volumes may find it hard to reap those productivity gains.

SingPost said that for the first half of this year, its overall locker utilisation rate was about 30 per cent. 

Its locker service POPStations was the first to launch in Singapore in 2013, which now has parcel lockers at more than 110 locations. It has recently acquired Parcel Santa, a locker network located predominantly in condominiums, bringing its total locker station count to more than 450.

SingPost attributed its higher usage rate to businesses and individuals who use the locker stations to drop off items for delivery. More than 80 per cent of the parcels placed in POPStations were for drop-offs, SingPost said.

“While most recipients still prefer delivery to the door, we have seen a healthy and significant volume of parcels delivered to POPStations,” SingPost said.

“With more people returning to office in recent months, we are also seeing an increase in utilisation of the POPStation lockers, particularly those located in office areas.”

Blu’s founder Prashant Dadlani declined to disclose his company's locker usage rate, saying that such a comparison was not relevant since Pick has exclusive access to certain public locations that private firms do not.

What he would say was that the 13 per cent of Pick's lockers being utilised for the first three months of the year was "low" and "no private operator would be able to survive with that kind of rate”.

Related topics

parcel lockers delivery online shopping e-commerce logistics

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.