Bonn (dpa) – Deutsche Post DHL is picking up its pace in expanding packing stations. According to the company in Bonn, the number of collection systems is expected to increase from the current 6,000 to 12,000 by the end of 2023.
“More and more customers are using Packstations,” said Tobias Meyer, a member of the board of the group responsible for Post and Parcels in Germany. Also, existing customers used the pickup option more frequently. Especially in the time of Corona, more people would have “discovered” the packing stations for themselves. Also, retailers, local transportation companies, and real estate companies would be very interested in installing a station at their locations.
Packing stations are tall yellow metal furniture with boxes of different sizes, which can be found in supermarkets, gas stations, and train stations. With a pickup code, customers can collect their packages around the clock or deliver them for shipping; use of the system is free. The first filling stations were established in 2003 and the pioneering project has now become an established mass phenomenon.
According to DHL, half of the population of Germany currently has a packing station nearby, that is, within a radius of one kilometer. The proportion is expected to increase in the future. However, the shipment is not always guaranteed to go to the packing station that is provided as the address when ordering online. Because if this station is full, the package ends up in another place and the consumer, contrary to expectations, has to make another trip.
The group announced plans for a step-by-step expansion: 6,500 are expected at the end of this year, that is, 2,100 more than in 2019. At least 8,500 are expected by the end of 2021, 10,500 a year later and a total of by the end of 2023 of at least 12,000. Bonn no.
Only packages that DHL has transported reach the packing stations; Shipments from other service providers are excluded. Competitors of the former state monopoly also rely on automated stations, but are reluctant to do so; they are still a long way from widespread expansion. DPD and Hermes have a joint venture called Parcellock, which has installed contactless parcel stations in large apartment buildings; it is not known how many there are.
Smaller competing GLS packages also end up in these boxes. Furthermore, in February 2020, Parcellock started a pilot project for systems in public spaces in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn and Hamburger Hochbahn, in which parcel stations were installed at 22 train stations.
While DHL’s competition is still being tested in public space, the Bonn-based company is doing its best and will soon build thousands of new yellow walls. Industry experts rate the fast pace as positive. “Parcel stations have advantages for both sides, for the service provider and for the customer,” says logistics professor Kai-Oliver Schocke. The company can save considerable costs because the delivery time of the package is significantly reduced; after all, shipments can be dumped in bulk into parcel boxes rather than ringing the bell individually. “In city centers, a parcel carrier sometimes only has three minutes from when he stops until he starts driving,” explains the professor.
“Door to door” is an expensive business for those in charge of logistics because many recipients are not there during the day and the delivery man has to call the neighbors. The parcel boxes would reduce handover labor time and thus offset investment costs for systems for the foreseeable future. The corona pandemic gives an additional boost to transfer points without contact with other people; after all, many recipients wanted to avoid direct contact with package carriers at their doorstep, Schocke says.
However, the scientist criticizes the fact that Deutsche Post DHL does so only with its packing stations rather than embarking on supplier-neutral systems with its competitors. “The space for these types of stations in the right places is limited”, says the professor. “The customer wants their package to be at the nearby pick-up station, they don’t care which provider it is from.”
Schocke and other scientists from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences recently carried out the research project “Dein Depot”, in which some 2,000 German citizens were asked about their attitude towards neutral parcel collection stations. 60 percent said they would benefit from such an offer. Of these, in turn, 60 percent would be willing to pay money for such a collection option nearby, on average 73 cents per package. “This shows that the population is interested in a higher level industrial solution,” says Schocke.
Meanwhile, DPD and Hermes continue to promote their Parcellock stations. “A vendor neutral solution is the right way to go,” says Peter Rey of DPD, a subsidiary of French Post. With their demand for an industrial solution, DHL’s competitors in Bonn fall on deaf ears: Deutsche Post DHL prefers to go ahead alone. Schocke, an industry expert, has a simple explanation for this: “DHL has enough market power that cooperation with others is not necessary.”