In a world where sending and receiving has become widespread, you cannot picture what it would be like without cluster boxes and parcel lockers. You probably must have seen these huge cluster boxes with varying sizes of storage boxes all stacked up neatly in a corner of huge apartments, grocery stores, offices, and many residential and commercial homes. Although these boxes weren’t as popular before, they have been increasingly used for the past few years. So, what’s the appeal of installing these boxes? What are the parcel lockers used for? In fact, what is a parcel locker and how can you get one for yourself? Let’s find out…
What Is a Parcel Locker?
Parcel lockers and huge cluster boxes have become common due to the increase in demand for mailing services. From tiny apartments to major commercial buildings, parcel lockers have started to gain popularity as these boxes are just used for delivering bulk mail but it also significantly cuts down the costs. Now, if you are a property owner or a business owner, then you probably want to know how these boxes help?
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Well, many mailing services like DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc have been using these lockers for a while now to provide a secure means of mail delivery options to their customers. With the evolution of parcel lockers, customers have access to a secure location where their mails can be dropped off. Most customers cannot receive mails at their homes due to many obvious reasons. It is also difficult for businesses to have bulk mails dropped off at their mailing address. In these instances, a parcel locker can be worth an investment. Let’s have a look at what is a parcel locker.
So, What Is a Parcel Locker and What Is It Used for?
As mentioned earlier, a parcel locker is a secure box that comes with a variety of shapes and sizes which is secure enough to hold your mails. This parcel locker can hold heavy bulk mails for you and keeps them safe till the mails are ready to be fetched by you. The parcel lockers come with a parcel locker key and each locker has a separate, unique key. The parcels cannot be accessed without the key, hence, providing a secure means of mail storage. It is a streamlined approach that saves your mail from all kinds of trouble.
Now, what is a parcel locker used for? The idea of using a parcel locker was to refine the delivery process as the traditional delivery process takes more time to deliver mail. In a standard delivery process, the mail carriers need to move to every location to dispatch the mails. In highly populated areas, the delivery takes more time as mails need to be delivered to every location precisely. To reduce the amount of time taken to deliver the mails, parcel lockers are used. With a parcel locker, the mail carriers dispatch bulk mails at a single location instead of traveling to each address which not only saves time but also them enough fuel as they do not have to travel back and forth to deliver mails.
As of now, many residential and commercial apartments are using parcel lockers for the residents. Some buildings might even use more than one or two parcel lockers. Some offices dedicate an entire wall to premium quality parcel lockers.
Features and Functions of a Standard Parcel Locker USPS
Did you know that the smart parcel lockers have reached a market worth of USD 601.1 million in 2020 and in the following years, it is estimated to reach up to USD 1505.4? Initially, parcel lockers were just simple lockers that were operated with a key, but now, many companies are coming forward with new ideas aimed to enhance security by implementing the latest technologies and making these lockers more advanced. It’s nearly impossible to count down the benefits of using these lockers. Here are some of the prominent features of using a parcel locker for your business or your personal use:
- A 24 x 7 access: When you sign up for a parcel locker service, you get 24×7 access to these lockers to collect your mail.
- Notifications: With the help of notifications, the customers are kept updated about the delivery. Whenever a delivery is made to the parcel locker, a notification is sent through an app. The recipient is sent a QR code and a PIN which can be used at any kiosk to view and access delivery.
- Accept mails from all mail carriers: The parcel locker accepts mails from all mail carrier services instead of just USPS.
- A secure delivery: What makes many businesses and residential owners go for parcel lockers is the level of security provided. Unlike standard delivery which might lead to mail thefts or damaged mails due to prolonged exposure to the harsh weather, parcel lockers keep mails safe in a box that can be accessed by the right key.
Types of Parcel Lockers
Now, that you have an idea of what is a parcel locker, let’s explore the different types of parcel lockers available out there. As parcel lockers have evolved with time and have become more advanced, they provide a wide range of security options to the customers. Here are some of the types of parcel lockers that are great for your business and personal needs:
As the name implies, postal lockers are a great tool for major postal services. Not only can you find them in a local post office but also at major shipping companies and courier services. These postal lockers are responsible for carrying mail both domestically and internationally. At USPS, the lockers are responsible for storing the mails unless the recipient claims their mails. The only drawback of the postal lockers at USPS is that they cannot accept mails from other services like UPS or FedEx.
These lockers are smart gadgets that are built with top-notch technology for better mail tracking. The smart lockers provide a higher level of security as the mails are safely stacked into the lockers and only be removed if you have access to the right PIN and QR code. Additionally, smart lockers are also used to send alerts and notifications so that the lockers do not get overstuffed with the mails and are collected on time.
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These lockers can be seen in major retail shops to store perishable items. These lockers can be set to a specific temperature to keep the food from going bad. Food items and frozen foods can be stored for longer durations by regulating the temperature
this type of locker is used for storing materials that are of high value. As the locker is heavy-duty, it can hold onto heavy and bulky items. These lockers are mostly used by businesses and major industries
with these lockers, not only can you store physical items and mails, but you can also store digital mails which can be accessed by the cloud. As a digital platform, this locker can be used to mail important official documents and can also be used to make any online orders.
Data Saving Lockers:
These kinds of lockers are great for people who handle bulk mails and official documents on an everyday basis. The data-saving lockers are also heavyweight and they can hold onto bulk mails such as books, files, papers, etc.
Self-service Parcel Lockers:
The self-service parcel lockers are installed in every part of the city to help in efficiently delivering the mail. These parcel lockers are installed in places like metro stations, bus stops, community centers, offices, etc., and the customers can collect their mails from these locations at their convenience. Delivering mail to these lockers is easier as the mail carriers can drop bulk mails at a single stop. When a delivery is made, the customers receive a notification and they make an instant payment before collecting the package.
What Is a Parcel Locker Cost?
Many major mailing services offer parcel locker services. In most cases, the customers who want to sign up for a domestic locker are given a free trial period before a certain fee is charged to the customers. Now, you need to remember that not every location in the USA offers parcel lockers. Limited zip codes offer a trial period, so you need to make sure that if you are signing up for this service, then it must be available to your location. The trial period for the USPS GoPost locker service is for 15 days, whereas for UPS and FedEx, the trial period is 7 and 5 days. Once the trial period ends and you don’t sign up for paid membership, then your mails are simply returned to the sender.
USPS GoPost Package Pickup Service
Moving towards the USPS parcel lockers, this service is known as the USPS GoPost package pickup service. According to the USPS service, the parcel locker service is only installed in a single region of the United States. The GoPost Package Pickup service is only available in Brooklyn and USPS is aiming to expand its reach over a wider spectrum. However, for now, parcel locker can only be found in Brooklyn.
If you have missed your delivery and received a blue form that has a box checked for USPS GoPost service, then you can have mails dropped at the GoPost and fetch them from the parcel locker. You need to enter the information given in the blue-colored form and enter it on the USPS GoPost Package PickUp page. Enter all the information that is mentioned on the blue-colored form and press submit. After placing the request, the mail is loaded into the GoPost Parcel locker, and a notification will be sent to you. A unique password along with the location of the Gopost is given either through the mail or text. Upon arriving at the kiosk, you will be asked to enter the passcode and signature.
What Is a Cluster Box?
As you might already know, many people are going for parcel locker and cluster box services ever since this idea has been introduced. As USPS has made many changes to the mailing services to cut down the costs, initiating the use of cluster boxes is also a cost-cutting solution. According to USPS, the use of cluster boxes has thereby decreased the amount of time, effort, and money by saving the mail carriers from having to travel door-to-door to simply deliver the mails. In the USA, the use of cluster boxes has strategically been gaining popularity.
A cluster box is basically a huge box, i.e., a centralized unit that has many compartments of varying sizes. The cluster boxes can be found in every corner of the city ranging from small residential buildings to retail stores. In other words, a cluster box is a community mailbox, where every member gets an individual box for their mails. A cluster box is a freestanding box made of heavy-duty material such as metal and has around 10, 14, or 16 mailboxes.
How Do Cluster Boxes Work?
Anyone who has not used the cluster box service before might be wondering if these boxes are safe and reliable. And are these community mailboxes safe to use during extreme weather conditions? And are there any chances of identity and mail theft if cluster mailboxes are used?
Well, there are many reasons why cluster mailboxes are considered safe for holding packages. Whenever a delivery is made, the mails are carefully placed into these lockers. As every individual locker can be operated using a key or a unique PIN or QR code, there are zero changes of mail theft or identity theft. The working of these boxes is rather simplistic. During delivery, the mail carriers have access to all the compartments, i.e., parcel lockers on the cluster box. They use a master key that allows them to place parcels in every compartment, or they can open the front or the back section of the cluster box and access all the components at once.
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What About Those Packages Which Are Big in Size?
As the cluster boxes have small parcel lockers which are great for postcards, letters, and emails, the issues seem to arise when the packages are bigger than the size of the parcel locker. USPS has come up with a solution to this problem using the parcel compartments. A parcel compartment is a large compartment present on the cluster box. This large compartment helps in storing bigger packages. When the customs receive a large package, these packages are placed in the parcel compartment and the key for this compartment is placed in the customer’s individual parcel locker. With this key, they can access the parcel locker and fetch their package.
Who Takes Responsibility for a Cluster Box?
The responsibility for a cluster box is usually taken by the homeowners or the landlords who service these mailboxes. There’s a huge misconception that USPS is responsible for these boxes but in reality, the one who services these mailboxes for their apartment or business, i.e., the owners are responsible if anything goes wrong and they have to fix the issues. As long as a person is assigned the ownership of the cluster box, they are responsible for looking after the mailboxes and it’s security.
Moving towards the cost of these cluster boxes, we can only say that the price of these cluster boxes might be around $1000. This is the price for a standard cluster box that operates with a lock key. If you want a smart cluster box for your business that can handle both physical and digital mails, then the cost would be higher.
Every door-to-door delivery by the USPS leads to an increase in the amount of time taken to deliver mails and it is also heavy on the pocket as mail carriers require a sufficient and reliable means of transport to deliver mail to every address. With the implementation of cluster boxes and parcel lockers, USPS mail carriers dispatch mail to these cluster boxes in just a single attempt by accessing all the parcel lockers at the same time.
According to USPS, the amount of money spent on mail delivery every year is approximately $30 billion annually. USPS claims that they spent $353 per year if they are delivering mails to every address, and they spent $224 for curbside delivery. All thanks to cluster mailboxes, USPS has significantly reduced the number of costs they incurred in door-to-door delivery.
Now, that you know what is a parcel locker, would you get one for yourself? Make sure to let us know…
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
Parcel lockers are located in any place such as apartments, commercial buildings, retail stores, pharmacies, post offices, carrier services, and many more such places.
With USPS GoPost, you can have access to the parcel lockers for 15 days without any cost.
The minimum cost of a cluster box is $1000. The cos depends on the number of features you might want.