Knock, knock, who’s there? 5 alternatives to home delivery

Published on 16 March 2020
Maxi Lina Weber
Maxi Lina Weber
Social Media Manager

Global e-commerce is increasing rapidly every year. Growing volumes, crowded streets and carbon emissions – the distribution of the goods to the consumer has become a critical factor in the logistics process. Hence, the industry is looking for innovative approaches to organizing the last mile efficiently. 

Growing e-commerce – growing parcel volumes

The growth of e-commerce has boosted the rapid expansion of online retailers. According to an Eurostat Survey, more than 7 out of 10 internet users in the EU have bought or ordered goods or services for private use in 2019. This leads to an immense increase in volumes to be delivered by logistics services. The federal association of parcel and express logistics (BIEK) reports 3.5 billion parcels in Germany alone (2018) and expects the volumes to rise up to 3.8 billion in the current year. 

This upward trend creates major challenges for delivery services in particular, urban transportation infrastructure as a whole, and above all the environment. If normal working hours are maintained, most packages are to be delivered during the day, when most of the addressees are at work. Detours and further delivery attempts lead to an increasingly time- and cost-intensive last mile delivery. That’s why alternative solutions to the classic home delivery deserve consideration. In this article we have collected 5 alternatives that can be integrated into everyday life and can help tackle the crowded streets and missed recipients.

1. Delivery to parcel shops

The first alternative on our list is the parcel shop network. Parcel shops are located in both cities and rural areas, within retail shops or other stores. As an additional service component, they are an easily accessible option for handling delivery, returns and C2C services. Here, convenient locations in a close-meshed network are key to success. For example, the Hermes parcel shop network across Europe counts more than 40,000 points, where customers can easily pick up or drop off their parcels. In Germany alone, there are around 16,000 parcel shops. Choosing this option also minimizes the carbon footprint. Up to 25% can be saved compared to a doorstep delivery. Another plus for C2C customers: Having the parcels sent from parcel shop to parcel shop is rewarded with a shipping fee discount.

In the light of the current Corona crisis, Hermes also adjusted the safety and health measures and launched contactless delivery and pick up options. Picking up a parcel from the parcel shop does not require a signature on the scanner anymore – showing the ID is enough.

2. Lockers – The “Hamburg Box”

Just recently, the “Hamburg Box” was ceremoniously opened. It is an app-based delivery concept with lockers, that are conveniently located at 21 of Hamburg’s metro and train stations. Easily, parcels can be collected 24/7 on the usual ways, e.g. on the way home from work. The solution by start-up ParcelLock is a smart cooperation and an ideal addition to the existing parcel shop network in the city. At the “Hamburg Box” parcels sent by Hermes, DPD and GLS can be collected, via an app with a code. Just like the parcel shop delivery, the carbon emissions of the last mile can be saved. 

3. Delivery to neighbours – “PaketFuxx”

Some customers, especially in rural areas, do not have a locker or parcel shop option close by. They often rely on their neighbours when it comes to parcel delivery. Hermes currently tests the new pilot experiment “PaketFuxx” in a few big cities in Germany. Neighbours, who frequently accept parcels, earn 30 cent per package, regardless which logistics provider they are handled by. This does not only solve the problem of failed deliveries: it also fosters neighbourhood community. The innovative project aims to become a considered option in the online shopping check-out process. 

4. Delivery to work

An option frequently used by employees is the parcel delivery to the workplace. This may seem as a convenient place, as they are more likely to be found in the office than at home. While infrequent personal purchases might be acceptable and fine with the employer, a rising pile of parcels might drain serious resources at the office. Also, it brings up issues of privacy and security that need clarification. If that is all set, delivery to the workplace is a valuable alternative and helps to reduce the number of delivery attempts. 

5. Safe place delivery

Especially in more rural areas, an alternative might be to let the parcels be delivered to a safe place on the property. Online, online shoppers can predefine a secure spot and authorize the courier to leave it there. This might be a shed, greenhouse or garage. Unless a signature is required, this option enables the customers to receive parcels at their home, even if they are not in.  

What is more, due to the current circumstances during the Corona crisis, Hermes has developed a new digitally supported solution for contactless package acceptance via photo that meets the current needs. This solution was just recently launched and helps protect the health of the couriers and customers during the crisis.

Growing parcel volumes demand innovative, customer-oriented additions to the classic doorstep delivery. To present real alternatives for the customers, logistics services have to consider a few points: the frequently visited points, wide timeframes, and – in the case of technology – user-friendly operability. The five options presented above are a starting point and can significantly reduce traffic load and carbon emissions. 

More about the preferences of European customers regarding payment and parcel delivery options can be read in this article.

Maxi Lina Weber
Maxi Lina Weber
Social Media Manager