Thursday October 21, 2021
From 8,200 to at least 15,000
DHL almost doubles the number of packing stations
So far, the logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL had set the goal: 12,000 Packstations by 2023. Now it should even be 15,000; currently there are 8,200. The reason for the increased expansion is the high customer demand. In addition, this type of parcel delivery is climate-friendly, according to DHL.
In all likelihood, thousands more parcel pick-up stations will be built at parking lots, train stations and apartment buildings in the coming years. Deutsche Post DHL announced on Thursday that it would increase its expansion speed. “We want to have at least 15,000 of the current 8,200 Packstations by the end of 2023,” said Post board member Tobias Meyer. For the systems where customers can pick up parcels around the clock, Swiss Post had previously set itself the goal of 12,000 locations by 2023. Now it should be 3000 more than previously planned.
The board of directors responsible for Post and Parcel Germany justified the accelerated expansion with high customer demand. In addition, the stations are climate-friendly, because unsuccessful trips to and delivery attempts to apartments are no longer necessary and many customers pick up their parcels on foot.
First packing stations in 2003
The Packstations are a success story for the market leader. The first yellow wall units were installed in 2003 and are now present throughout Germany. You can find them at supermarkets, petrol stations or train stations – in other words, where many people pass by. The expansion, which was accelerated only a year ago, is now being pushed again. In autumn 2019 there were only 4,100 packing stations – now there are already twice as many, and by the end of this year there should be 8,500. If Swiss Post achieves its expansion target by 2023, it would have almost doubled its size on the current basis.
The background to the expansion is the rapidly increasing parcel volumes for years, which in turn is due to the booming online trade. The parcel service providers are desperately looking for efficient delivery methods in order to be able to handle the masses well. Swiss Post sees its collection machines as a central element for this. Why more and more packing stations? “Many of our customers are not at home during the day, sending parcels to their home address makes little sense,” explains DHL CEO Meyer.
“Demand for automated collection stations is increasing significantly”
It is true that a secure storage location could be specified via the Internet so that the parcel carrier still leaves the shipment close to the apartment – for example in the garage, on the terrace or in the garden shed. But many citizens, especially in big cities, don’t have such storage locations. Such parcel recipients could determine in advance that the shipment would be sent to a packing station and then take it with them on the way home, for example. The demand for such automated pick-up stations is increasing significantly, said Meyer.
The Bonn-based group is primarily targeting train stations as new locations – i.e. stops on buses, subways, suburban trains, regional trains or long-distance trains. Housing associations should also be asked whether the post office can rent a space for the construction of a new packing station.
Competition not so far yet
The competition is nowhere near as great on this topic. Hermes and DPD jointly operate around 30 automated pick-up stations at train stations in Hamburg. In addition, there are other so-called “Parcel Lock” locations at tenement houses, the number of which is not communicated – but it should be a different order of magnitude than the number in Hamburg. The online retailer Amazon, which has also been active in parcel delivery for several years, claims to have several hundred pick-up stations in Germany, most of which are accessible around the clock. The network of “Amazon Locker”, as the stations are called, is to be expanded further, according to the company.
DPD and Hermes are promoting Parcel Lock as a provider-neutral solution. A contact point that is not limited to one company would be suitable for the entire industry in order to make it as easy as possible for the citizens, says a DPD spokesman – they would then not have to go to different locations depending on the parcel company, but would only have a location in the neighborhood for all packages. “That would be the consumer-friendly solution,” said the DPD spokesman. The subsidiary of the French post office also relies on parcel shops, which can be found in kiosks or fashion shops, for example. The customer can also pick up parcels there, but is bound to the opening times. Automated pick-up stations are a component for alternative delivery points – but only one component and not the crucial one, says the DPD spokesman.
Capacity management technically demanding
Post board member Meyer sees an industry solution as critical from today’s perspective, also because the capacity of the packing stations is currently still limited. In addition, capacity management would be technically demanding. It should be clear that a service provider can actually deposit a shipment in a pick-up station at a certain time. If, contrary to expectations, this station is already full because other service providers have handed over their parcels in the meantime, a DHL driver would have to reschedule and drive to the next station. “The positive climate effect of short trips then fizzles out – that would not be sustainable,” says the DHL manager. In addition, it is also confusing for customers if they receive a notification card for a certain Packstation, but the specified pick-up location then changes again at short notice.
An industry solution would only make sense if the systems of a single operator are normally half empty and can only be fully utilized. “But that is not the case with us: our Packstations are well utilized, we currently have no space for packages from other providers.”