A package left on a front stoop is easy pickings for many criminals. As many as 30% of Americans have had a package stolen, according to a 2017 survey from Comcast’s Xfinity Home of 1,000 U.S. adults. Fear of it happening again could make buyers wary of making holiday purchases online.
However, new ways to deliver packages aim to make deliveries safer, ranging from lockers for the front porch to gig-economy workers that accept packages on the buyer’s behalf.
If a customer can’t be home to accept a package, perhaps the next-best option is to get a neighbor to hold onto it. But the neighbor may want something in return. Vyllage connects customers with people in their area accepting package deliveries.
The service, which costs users between $3.99 and $5.99 per package, is working on getting “Vyllagers” signed up. These workers, who have to pass a background check and must own their own home or apartment, accept packages for neighbors during the day at their own homes, keeping them in a secure location until the buyers come to pick up their purchases.
To use the service, consumers can download the Vyllage app and enter their location to see if there is a Vyllager nearby. When they have a delivery they want to ensure is secure, they provide an estimated size and pay the fee—rates are based on package sizes—to reveal the Vyllager’s address. On the retailer’s site, during the checkout process, the buyer inputs a unique code in place of a name. For example, a code might be “James D345K,” along with the Vyllager’s address.
Because the system just uses a special delivery address, it works for any retailer and through any shipping method, according to CEO and founder Laura Borland. Vyllage takes 99 cents of the fee for each package delivered, and the Vyllager keeps the rest.
“We’re looking for Vyllagers in every ZIP code in the U.S.,” Borland says. “The target market for Vyllagers are people who are homebound, virtual employees, stay-at-home parents and others who want to make money at home.”
Borland says the solution offers more flexibility than lockers like those from Amazon.com Inc. or UPS Inc., which require purchases from certain retailers or packages that are delivered via specific carriers. Vyllage is still gaining ground, after having officially launched earlier this month.
In the meantime, options from retailers and carriers are evolving to give customers more control over their deliveries.
UPS is rolling out its My Choice program to 96 more countries this holiday season. The program, which allows users to manage when and where packages are delivered even after a package is en route, is now available in 112 countries. The carrier has also started testing a service that enables UPS to place packages inside New York apartment buildings as part of a partnership with smart lock-maker Latch.
Competitor FedEx Corp. is working with musical instrument retailer Sweetwater, No. 83 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 500, to offer storefront locations as shipping options, a solution that Sweetwater says helps musicians feel more comfortable placing online orders.
Amazon (No. 1) also has tested more secure delivery options, including into the trunks of customers’ cars. The partnership with General Motors Co. and Volvo Cars is live in 37 U.S. cities, allowing Amazon delivery drivers to remotely unlock cars and place orders inside before relocking the cars. Amazon also put lockers in all of its Whole Foods stores after acquiring the grocer last year.
More localized options also exist. BoxLock is a smart lock maker that has worked with carriers such as FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service to secure packages on customers property.
Customers sign into their accounts with various carriers through the BoxLock app, granting the app visibility into the various packages arriving at a customer’s house. The lock itself has a barcode scanner built in, which the delivery driver uses to scan the carrier’s packaging barcode. If it matches a delivery BoxLock has found in users’ accounts, the lock opens. BoxLock has certified boxes from companies like Step2 and TuffBoxx that can be bolted securely to front stoops, patios or other common delivery locations.Favorite