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Intelligent Lockers and Why the “Last Mile” Matters

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – The Tao Te Ching, attributed to Laozi

A package may journey a thousand miles, but customer satisfaction begins with the "Last Mile" – Terry Holash, Senior Vice President Exela, Intelligent Lockers

Package delivery is big business (if there’s any doubt, consider that UPS’s revenues totaled $72 billion in 2018). The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2019 to be at 146.2 billion.[1] NASDAQ  predicts that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be made online. As a result, the volume of packages shipped is increasing daily.

Most logistics involved in package delivery are invisible to the customer. The one aspect of package delivery that is visible to the customer is the “last mile,” as it’s known in the industry. How things go in the last mile has the power to “make” or “break” customer satisfaction.

What is the “last mile” of delivery?

The “last mile” refers to the journey of delivered goods from the carrier’s local transportation hub to the “final delivery destination.”

What is the “final delivery destination”?

The “final delivery destination” refers to where delivered goods are placed in the “physical possession of the addressee.” Ideally, that will be in the hands of the addressee. Not in a lobby. Not with a receptionist. Not on a desk. Not in a package room.

The “last 50 feet”

That last leg of a delivered package’s journey (from arrival at an address to the actual hands of the addressee) as the “last 50 feet.” As e-commerce has become increasingly ubiquitous, the sheer volume of deliveries has encroached on those “final 50.” By necessity, packages are often deemed delivered upon reaching an address, rather than an addressee. At the same time, customer experience has come to hinge increasingly on those final 50 feet.

Controlling the final 50

To regain control over the final 50, some vendors require the addressee’s signature for delivery, but that also risks alienating customers. Another way to control the final 50 is via automated, programmable lockers, or “smart lockers.” Exela’s smart lockers, Intelligent Lockers, ensure the right package gets to the right person every time. Here’s how:

- A package is placed (by carrier, or mailroom personnel) into an Intelligent Locker (in a bank of lockers located conveniently to the addressee).

- The Intelligent Locker is programmed to send a message to the addressee containing a pin code to open that locker (and only that locker).

- The addressee receives a notification via text, or email that the package is waiting for pickup at a particular location.

- The addressee keys in the pin code, and the locker pops open.

Intelligent Lockers for YOUR business

Exela’s Intelligent Lockers aren’t just for use by e-commerce vendors. Our Intelligent Locker customers include banks, hospitals, universities, and other large organizations who have used them to, among other things:

- Reduce the number of people staffing their mailrooms

- Reduce the amount of security required by mailrooms while also permitting 24/7 access

- Decrease misdeliveries

- Decrease the number of non-credentialed employees roaming the premises to make deliveries

- Promote privacy

Here’s how a large university learned the value of Intelligent Lockers. Here’s how a major insurance company provided its employees with convenient storage.

Exela’s Intelligent Lockers are part of its Smart Office suite of front office automation solutions.

[1] https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf