E-commerce packages will have more places to land with United Parcel Service Inc.’s expansion of its Access Point locker program.
UPS will increase the number of “smart” locker locations to 300 in the next two months after conducting a pilot program with nine lockers in Chicago, the company said Thursday. Installations are underway in Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, says Kalin Robinson, director of the UPS Access Point program. The lockers will appear in eight other states—California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Texas—by the end of August, he says.
“We’re installing more every week and working to recruit more locations,” Robinson says. The next step: Lockers soon will be able to accept outbound parcels for returns, though he didn’t give a date for that option.
Online retailers can add the locker delivery locations to their checkout process as another choice for customers, especially those who live in large residential buildings where doorstep delivery is not possible or that don’t have staff to manage parcel volume, Robinson says. Many of the lockers will be at 7-Eleven convenience stores in densely populated areas and in areas with higher rates of missed deliveries and repeat delivery attempts.
UPS is the shipping carrier for 421 retailers in the Internet Retailer2016 Top 1000, according to Top500Guide.com data.
The lockers, usually outside and available 24 hours, allow consumers to pick up their parcels using an access code sent to their smartphone or by scanning their photo ID to confirm their identity. The Chicago pilot program showed that 30-40 parcels were delivered each day to the locker unit, indicating that demand exists and is growing, Robinson says.
The lockers can be configured to have up to 68 individual bays of varying sizes, and they include a pinhole camera and a phone to allow a consumer to reach a customer service representative in case there is a problem accessing a bay, he says.
The lockers are a growing component of the UPS Access Point network, which UPS launched in October 2014, and now has 24,000 locations globally, including 8,000 in the United States. Locations include all 4,400 UPS stores, and additional staffed sites such as grocery stores, convenience stores and dry cleaners.
UPS’s My Choice program, launched in 2011, has more than 25 million consumers registered globally. It enables a shopper to receive email and text alerts that tell her when a package will be delivered. A consumer also can reroute a package to an Access Point location if he knows, for example, that he won’t be home when a package is scheduled to arrive.