Parcel lockers have emerged as a potential solution to the last-mile delivery challenges and are believed to reduce delivery times and traffic congestion. However, there has been no empirical analyses of the impacts of parcel lockers (in larger residential buildings) on delivery times.
Researchers found that using lockers caused a 50–60% drop in the average time spent inside the building. The findings demonstrated the benefits of placing parcel lockers in residential buildings for all stakeholders in the delivery process.
A new study presents a framework for an empirical analysis of the causal effects of common-carrier parcel lockers on delivery times. By collecting field data and applying a pre-test/post-test control group experiment, this study, for the very first time, estimates the impacts of a parcel locker system in larger residential buildings on delivery times and, more specifically, on vehicle dwell time and the time delivery couriers spend inside a building.
Not just parcels
Commercial entries to the buildings were recorded as service visits, package delivery, mail/postal delivery, meal/grocery delivery, or other goods delivery. The vehicles captured in the study represented a broad cross-section of 165 deliveries to the two residential buildings. For example, 59% of deliveries were from UPS, Amazon, FedEx, and other major parcel carriers. The remaining entries included 11% postal service stops, 5% service visits, 12% prepared meal deliveries, and 13% other goods, including groceries, home appliances, or office supplies.
Since only packages are permitted in the locker, observations related to service visits and mail or meal/grocery deliveries, which accounted for about 30% of the total deliveries, were removed from the analysis dataset. The remaining 70% were all package deliveries and consisted of a total of 116 observations from the two buildings studied.
In this study, the researchers designed a nonequivalent groups pre-test/post-test control experiment to estimate the causal effects of a parcel locker on delivery times in a downtown Seattle, WA, residential building. The causal effects are measured regarding vehicle dwell time and the time delivery couriers spend inside the building through the difference-in-difference method and using a similar nearby residential building as a control.
Efficiency in delivery
The results showed a statistically significant decrease in time spent inside the building, and a small yet insignificant reduction in delivery vehicle dwell time at the curb. Researchers found that using lockers caused a 50–60% drop in the average time spent inside the building. The locker also reduced delivery vehicles’ dwell time at nearby loading zones by 33%.
The building managers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the locker. However, they noted that considering the time needed to register residents for the locker service, deal with sporadic locker issues, and address packages occasionally left in the lobby. Still, the workload of the resident manager is reduced by 90% post locker installation.
The findings demonstrated the benefits of placing parcel lockers in residential buildings for all stakeholders in the delivery process. For example, decreased delivery times give carriers more time to complete their daily delivery journeys and lower costs. In addition, the building managers stated that the locker reduced the workload of the resident manager by about 90% by eliminating the need to pick up packages from the lobby and deliver them to residents’ doorsteps. And 96% of residents reported satisfaction with the locker and an improved e-commerce experience with fewer missed or stolen deliveries.
Future studies could investigate whether the time savings hold for more buildings of various types, layouts, and sizes, including commercial buildings, public facilities, or mixed-use establishments. Future research is also needed to estimate time savings associated with the neighborhood public lockers with users from multiple nearby locations.
Source: Ranjbari, A., Diehl, C., Dalla Chiara, G., & Goodchild, A. (2023). Do parcel lockers reduce delivery times? Evidence from the field. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, 172, 103070. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tre.2023.103070