When it comes to package logistics and delivery, the ‘last mile’ is a metaphor used to describe the movement of goods from a centralized fulfillment center to their final destination. Last-mile delivery is what happens after a package is dropped at reception, yet still needs to make it to the employee who ordered it. Or, when a package is delivered to a university mail center, yet still must be handed off to the student who ordered it.
Further complicating the last-mile delivery issue is that as eCommerce becomes more ubiquitous, the amounts of packages people receive at their universities, offices, or homes will continue to grow substantially. This has overwhelmed traditional last mile delivery strategies, where a shipping company like UPS delivers packages to a central location like a mailroom or the front desk. Enterprises, universities, and in many cases, logistics companies themselves are beginning to explore drastically different approaches to this last mile of package delivery.
While a variety of approaches are being tested, one of the most effective and straightforward so far has proven to be the implementation of intelligent lockers. Intelligent lockers, also sometimes referred to as intelligent parcel or mail lockers, are a scalable, customizable electronic locker systems that give both your on-site workers and office visitors alike an on-demand, secure space of their own which can be assigned daily as-needed based on requests for storage. As mobile workers without a permanent workplace become more prominent, another benefit of intelligent lockers emerges – they provide a storage option for mobile office workers and visitors.
Intelligent lockers not only cut through last-mile package delivery logistics – but they also simplify other emerging office management trends, like that of the mobile worker.
Here are two huge ways implementing intelligent lockers can streamline operations and logistics for enterprises:
1. Streamlines Last Mile Logistics Substantially
There is a myriad of ways that implementing intelligent lockers in your corporate or university setting streamlines last-mile package delivery logistics. They preemptively and substantially reduce the amount of labor and time that is needed to deliver packages. When a recipient’s package is securely stored for them in a locker, they can pick it up with an emailed or texted code, at their leisure. Mailroom associates don’t need to chase down your employees who are on the receiving end of inbound communications, and undelivered packages don’t compile in a single, centralized area.
With intelligent lockers, there’s no need for a signature, because only the package recipient has the current code to the locker that contains their package. This helps to keep the chain of custody controlled. Once it’s claimed, the locker resets with a new code, and the process can begin again. Beyond that, the convenient way employees or students can now claim packages means you’ll likely see a decrease in the volume of calls to, or complaints about your mail center, meaning intelligent lockers can improve your customer satisfaction. Intelligent lockers can be custom-finished to reflect your enterprise or university branding, and many even come with expiration date capabilities – meaning if a package goes unclaimed it may be removed from the locker and handled appropriately by mailroom personnel.
As package delivery rates rise by as much as 25-100% per day, traditional delivery strategies become obsolete. But with elegant, straightforward delivery strategies such as intelligent lockers, mail center managers are far from powerless in terms of managing these new inbound mail and package trends.
They’re useful for outbound packages as well. Placed near a business entrance or at reception, they can act as a secure storage center for packages waiting to be picked up on the outbound side by a parcel delivery service. Simply pass along the password to the postal worker as needed.
The usefulness of intelligent lockers is not strictly contained within the area of package delivery. As the number of mobile workers increases, and modern, flexible office management trends like hoteling gain steam – a whole host of alternative uses for intelligent lockers emerges.
2. Intelligent Lockers Aid in Modern Office Management/Hoteling
Constant connectivity has fundamentally changed the nature of how we work. On any given workday at large corporations, nearly 50% of dedicated work stations could be empty. The rise of the mobile workforce is great for business in many ways, but it also means that enterprises must adapt to meet the evolving demands of mobile employees and important guests coming and going.
As businesses seek to accommodate this growing mobile work force, they are turning to a trend called hoteling. A trend that’s emerged as a response to this growing mobile workforce, hoteling is reducing office-related costs by eliminating assigned workspaces for mobile workers and providing them with unassigned workspaces. However, when in the office, these workers need a secure space to store their belongings. Enter, intelligent lockers.
Whether it’s on-the-go mobile workers that need a secure place to store their belongings, or a set of employees without assigned desks that still need a way to receive inbound communications – intelligent lockers can help alleviate these pain points.
With intelligent lockers, everyone in your office – whether that is an employee from another site in for the day, or an overworked mail center struggling to track down employees who do not have an assigned workspace – can have a safe, easily accessible place to store their belongings, or pick up their mail, while easing the strain on your mail center personnel at the same time. You can even permanently assign intelligent lockers for frequent, high profile visitors. But no matter how you approach it, intelligent lockers are a logical, effective response to several difficult-to-adapt-to workplace trends – namely, increasing package volumes, and more mobile workers.
Due to increasing package volumes, and the proliferation of the mobile worker – enterprises and universities alike are dealing with various office and communications management issues that they have not had to confront before. But as solutions like intelligent lockers emerge, it’s becoming increasingly clear that stakeholders will have the tools they need to address these evolving trends.