Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Digital Keys for Secure Parcel Delivery Containers? Or Why Can't I Buy a Secure Parcel Delivery Container?

Around Christmas time in Australia, over 1 million parcels are shipped everyday around the country (see article here for reference)And this is in a country of only 23 million.

During Christmas 2013 in the USA, there was a lot of publicity about UPS customers (as well as FedEx customers) who experienced delays as a result of unprecedented last-minute online holiday sales. 

Outside of Christmas time, it is estimated that around one million packages are sent everyday through UPS in the United States and figures range from around 500,000 up to a million a day for Amazon too.

Don't worry folks, we'll get you your package to your home on time.

Of course the statistics were nothing like this more than 15 years ago. Clearly people are buying more and more stuff online these days.

One statistic I can’t find anywhere is;
“what is the percentage of houses in the USA, or Australia which have parcel delivery boxes in their front yards big enough to handle large parcel deliveries (rather than the current tiny letterboxes)?”

My guess is it would be pretty low. Perhaps even less than half a percent?

Here’s another interesting statistic – ‘ letterbox design and size hasn’t changed to much since they were first invented and encouraged to be installed by Postal Offices around the world around 200 years ago’.

And here is a really surprising statistic ‘there are only a small handful of different types of parcel delivery containers available to purchase in the marketplace right now (May 2014) and that's, both online and bricks and mortar stores. Often your local hardware store has none.

Nice design, if you like something in front of your house that looks like cremation equipment

It’s really odd. The small number of websites that do sell secure parcel delivery containers are generally selling medium sized ugly metal boxes, with insecure installations, and insecure fastening. They generally don’t fit in with the aesthetics on any house – unless your entire house is designed of bright green or black corrugated iron. And they’re expensive too – they usually start around $300 and some are up to $1000 each.

So what the heck is going on? Why can’t I buy a decent sized parcel delivery container for my house, which fits into the aesthetics of my house, and which is secure, and which is affordable. Why, Why, Why?

What about if you live in an apartment building – what options do you have for secure parcel delivery containers?

Last year I lived in a large apartment building in the US, which had a keyfob on the front door, and a whole bunch of tiny letterboxes on the wall in the interior corridor. Everytime you walked into the corridor, it was littered with parcel delivery boxes and packages because they couldn’t fit into the tiny letterboxes. After a few drinks on a night out, I often found myself stumbling over the packages. I hope I never broke anything inside them. I wondered if anyone else in the building ever decided to help themselves to other people’s packages. They weren’t very secure just splashed across the ground there. The thing that struck me was that this building was only around a year old. It doesn't even show up on Google maps. So why didn’t the building designers/architects design bigger mailboxes so that parcels could be put inside? Had the building designers/architects been asleep for the last 15 years, or never ordered a package online before?

One day I asked the UPS delivery guy how he gets into the corridor to dump all the packages on the ground, and he told me he has a fob to the front door. I asked him how many other apartment buildings he has fobs to the front door, and he told me, “not many”. So what happens to all the other apartment buildings? Are they simply dumped on the ground out the front of the buildings? The packages would've frozen last winter if this was the case. Of course they’re not dumped on the ground outside, they’re stored at a warehouse somewhere, and the recipient of the package usually has to go to this warehouse between 9am-5pm to pick up their package. 

Doesn't sound very efficient at all does it? Its not efficient for the recipient, its not efficient for the parcel delivery guy, and its not efficient for the parcel delivery company's, so once again I ask “why the hell hasn't this problem been solved yet?”

I can’t help but use the old expression here, “if an alien came to earth now what would they think?”, but seriously folks, there is something really wrong here?

Strange Place that earth
Here is what the alien would think;

“Tens of millions of parcels are being moved everyday all over that planet Earth. The strange little boxes out the front of people’s homes, which they call letterboxes, are too small to handle the parcels to be delivered to their homes. Most people aren’t home during the day to accept the parcels, and most of the delivery drivers don’t want to go and knock on people’s doors anyway (dogs, fences, too difficult, dangerous). So the parcels are then taken back to a big place and stored, sometimes for weeks at a time, because people can’t get to these places because they are only open when people are working. The big places where they are stored are owned by big companies that organise the parcels being shipped around. Some of these companies are worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but they can’t seem to figure out how to get the parcels to the human’s houses. Strange place that earth.

We believe that Digital Keys and good design could solve the problem here. In next week’s blog well explain how.

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