The rise of ecommerce coupled with an inefficient supply chain has led to the transportation & logistics industry being responsible for 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions globally. Consumers demand fast & “free” delivery including flexible shipping options which have only exacerbated an already high polluting sector. A major problem of online shopping is the “last-mile” – the delivery to a customer at their home. Not only is the “last-mile” the most expensive & polluting part of the supply chain, but it’s also the most inefficient. At home delivery requires couriers to make individual stops to deliver a mere few parcels at a time. Without significant intervention, we could see a 30% rise in carbon emissions from this sector by 2030.

The introduction of out-of-home (OOH) delivery is one solution to the inefficiencies of the “last-mile” and to reducing carbon emissions. This is achieved by implementing the use of secure package lockers, or automated parcel machines (APMs) near or close to consumers, think at your local gas station or supermarket. Consumers direct all their shipments to a locker rather than their home where they are free to retrieve their parcels on their own schedule via their normal daily commute. In turn couriers can achieve 1st time delivery & are enabled to deliver hundreds of packages in one delivery stop gaining route efficiency leading to fewer carbon emissions. OOH delivery creates operational efficiencies in which the byproduct is sustainability. GoLocker is building an OOH delivery network across New York City & Los Angeles agnostic to brand or carrier to demonstrate these benefits.

In addition to the adverse environmental impact of home delivery, there are significant fiscal impacts to each party involved in an ecommerce transaction: the consumer, retailer & carrier. An estimated 1.7M packages go lost or stolen daily in the United States costing retailers up to $25M a day to replace these items. To make up for lost revenue retailers pass costs on to the consumers by raising prices or increasing shipping fees. All the while logistics companies pay for failed deliveries, complex routes & extra costs. Replacement means redeliveries which equates to more courier trucks on the road and more carbon emissions.

Europe has led the way for years in taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, despite the prevalence of these well documented issues it should not be surprising that the adoption of an OOH delivery model in the United States is still quite nascent. Yet this form of last-mile delivery consolidation is becoming commonplace across Europe and is now seeing significant traction in Asia as well.

To understand what the global impact of implementing OOH delivery at scale could achieve, let’s look at Poland, which has one of the largest numbers of package lockers of any country. Research done by InPost, a European out of home delivery partner, shows without any doubt that if all courier transport moved to parcel lockers, it would be possible to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 75% in relation to traditional courier delivery. This is no doubt a huge number which could be scrutinized but other OOH delivery networks like InstaBox & SwipBox have published sustainability reports in the last 12 months that outline similar benefits. According to the report published by Instabox in 2021, locker deliveries cause 48% fewer emissions on average compared to home delivery. They claim the logic to be simple: home delivery means 100 stops to make 100 deliveries while OOH delivery means a single stop to deliver 100 parcels and significantly fewer miles driven.

What about the impact to cities? As the number of delivery trucks on the road continues to rise and delivery habits shift, more traffic, more stops and increased travel times become particularly problematic in densely populated cities. How many times have you witnessed a courier truck idling at a curb blocking traffic and disrupting your daily commute? What if fewer trucks could deliver parcels during off-peak hours in designated drop off zones? OOH delivery is one way to make this possible.

Currently, the preferred method of package delivery in the United States is at home. Yet we see more often now that consumers are willing to select a more environmentally friendly shipping option if provided with alternatives & education. In fact, the growth of circular marketplaces in recent years is proof that consumers have a deep desire to protect the planet and are willing to purchase from retailers who have the same values in mind. And in the checkout cart, when an environmentally friendly option is provided consumers are more likely to select it. Consumer awareness of the benefits of OOH delivery will be mandatory to the adoption of this form of delivery option. Promising statistics are coming out of the UK where surveys have shown that shoppers are willing to change their habits once the benefits of out-of-home delivery are clear.

Another holiday season is around the corner which means the number of package deliveries will significantly increase once again. Like we have seen in recent years, we can expect couriers to place volume caps on major retailers, initiate rate hikes & hire an influx of seasonal workers to drive more trucks. Furthermore, starting in October most major logistics carriers put a “hold” on any innovation to focus merely on the delivery of ecommerce goods. Who then will lead the way towards adopting this model? Will it be big-box retailers, circular marketplace leaders, logistics carriers or consumers desiring a more environmentally friendly solution? What will it take to make steps towards a more environmentally friendly last-mile delivery solution? We have our own bets, but the answer is still unknown.