On March 29, 2015, The Wall Street Journal published a special feature article on its website. Well, the write-up was not about politics, economy or a breakthrough in technology, rather on the delivery challenges that e-commerce companies face in India, especially the deliverymen.
The e-commerce industry has been thriving in India for the past many years, and as competition got intense e-commerce companies came up with new offers to attract online shoppers. Out of all the promises, faster delivery is the key to outdo the competition. A few major portals even came up with the ‘Same Day Delivery’ concept.
In this entire equation of e-commerce supply chain, delivery people are a vital cog in the wheel. All the promises that companies make to acquire or retain their customers, to a large extent, lies on these people, and they live on the edge. Besides toiling hard, carrying large backpacks stuffed with orders, delivery guys also face abuse or even physical assault.
Now, there is another side of the story too, and it’s about end consumers, who often come across scary situations that stem from the final phase of the delivery process. There have been numerous instances of stalking of female customers by delivery guys. In most cases, customers’ alertness and timely intervention of authorities has prevented the worse. This is the reason why the e-commerce industry is fast inclining to better and safer alternatives like smart lockers or automated parcel terminals.
A Few More Grave Concerns and Why Self-service Lockers can be Saviours
Besides logistical and other issues, there are some serious security problems that both consumers and delivery men deal with quite often. Let’s take a look at a couple of real-life instances:
1) Customer’s Woes
In November, 2015, a young lady ordered food online on a Sunday night from a reputed restaurant. Initially, there was some confusion on the payment. Though the confusion was settled and the delivery was done. Later, the delivery guy kept messaging the lady. Alarmed, she contacted the restaurant and talked to the Customer Relationship Manager explaining the situation. She did not get a proper solution from them. Subsequently, she posted a message on Facebook where it caught attention of the co-founder, who promised to resolve the issue. It was security threat to a young lady as a stranger had her address and phone number. Truly alarming!
2) Deliverymen’s Misery
A delivery boy, who was carrying three expensive laptops to deliver, found that the given address was actually an open field. Some people were waiting there, and looted the guy at gunpoint. The perpetrators could not be tracked down as they only provided their mobile numbers. On other occasions, delivery boys were locked up or even beaten up, for strange reasons.
The two incidents mentioned above are just like two sides of a coin, customers and delivery men were at the receiving end of someone else’s dubious intention. This is where e-commerce companies need to draw a line and create a “safe zone” for both the parties. This is why opting for automated parcel delivery terminals like Smartbox has given them a concrete solution without having to compromise on the security of customers as well as delivery people.
How Self-Service Lockers Can Put an End to the Security Issue
With the implementation of smart lockers, e-commerce companies can eliminate any unnecessary communication between these opposite sides of the spectrum.
When customers opt for smart lockers during online shopping, the orders are delivered to self-service terminals, and not directly to customers. Once the order arrives, customers will receive a notification via email or short messaging service (SMS) along with a One Time Password (OTP). They just need to visit the chosen automated parcel delivery terminal, put their OTP, and collect the package. As stated earlier, there is no direct interaction between customers and the delivery people. Customers’ phone numbers are not shared with the delivery guys, which eliminates the possibility of any unwanted communication. Delivery guys don’t have to toil hard and travel through clogged roads or remote addresses. Most importantly, there will be no security threats including verbal abuse or physical assaults. Smart lockers also eliminate any possibilities of fraud as these lockers are only accessible when customers make advance payment or through CSOD (Card Swipe on Delivery) on the spot.
Automated parcel lockers help e-commerce companies to significantly bring down their logistics cost. Overall, it is a win-win situation for e-shoppers and online retailers. In addition, delivery persons will also breathe a sigh of relief from having to avert potential unnerving situations.