Home shopping is meant to offer us a more efficient way to shop, and it has become so popular that the last-minute “Christmas rush” is now just as much in the depots and sorting offices as it is on the High Street.
Unfortunately, this increase in home deliveries isn’t matched by an increased likelihood of us shoppers being at home when the goodies arrive.
So we all know the frustration of that little red card, instructing us to head to the sorting office to pick up that latest delivery from Amazon.
So the trip you thought you saved, you haven’t. And the parcel has been driven to your home and back for no reason.
The alternatives to the red card aren’t that great: leaving parcels out in the rain, chucking them over the garden fence, bothering your neighbours with them, or dumping them in your wheelie bin.
The collection points aren’t ideal either: user-unfriendly opening hours or a location chosen for the benefit of lorries and logistics rather than consumers, or both. My (so-called) local Parcelforce office is a 40 mile round trip drive and isn’t well connected to public transport at the hour I’m likely to visit.
There has to be a more efficient way to do this. At least that is what researchers at the University of Southampton believe. According to the study team (see here and here), in 2010, the typical UK online shopper spent £1765 on home shopping, up from £572 in 2005, meaning that – even all the way back in 2010 – there were 1.3 billion home shopping deliveries a year.
With this large and growing volume of transactions, the case for improving the cat-and-mouse game of parcel delivery is ever more compelling. They suggest secure, 24-hour accessible lockers at local places we’d be likely to visit anyway: railway stations, supermarkets, etc. At the moment, these are more common a sight in countries like Germany and Australia. You get an access code and you pick up your parcel at a time convenient to you, and at a place much easier to get to. This could make home delivery both more environmentally efficient and less frustrating.