Going that last mile

The Expert Eye
Although the costs of such processes as inventory supplies and storage, order picking, added-value services and returns management may appear to be key in logistics, it is the last-mile that induces headaches, as it accounts for 50 pct or more of all supply chain spend

How can such costs be optimised without losing the interest of customers? One of the options is to offer deliveries to parcel lockers – a service that is not only less expensive, but also more sustainable.

Deliveries to parcel lockers are the preferred method throughout Poland. The Polish market is truly unique in Europe in this respect. According to Gemius’ ‘E-Commerce in Poland 2021’ report, as many as 77 pct of online shoppers favour this type of delivery, which represents a 16 pp increase on the 2020 figures. Courier deliveries to home and business addresses are the second most popular (50 pct).

Deliveries to parcel lockers are now an incentive to order goods for as many as 81 pct of online shoppers in Poland. For obvious reasons, we do not always have time to wait for a courier to arrive at home. Receiving a parcel at work is not always an option either. And on top of that, it is often difficult to contact a courier by phone to reschedule the delivery. For some of us, courier delivery probably sometimes means that we have to drive out to somewhere deep in the suburbs to pick up a parcel from an urban depot. This explains why parcel lockers have become the no. 1 option when it comes to pick-up points in Poland.

Sustainable growth

There can be no denying that the exponential growth in the popularity of parcel lockers in our market is being driven by sustainability and environmental care. According to InPost, the largest provider of locker services in Poland, as many as 37 pct of those it surveyed walk to parcel lockers. In addition, 61 pct of InPost’s users will access parcel lockers only when engaged in other errands. Furthermore, 93 pct of respondents do not have to walk extra miles or drive more than 5 km to a pick-up point.

According to the ‘Green Last Mile Logistics 2022’ report by Last Mile Partners, a single parcel locker cuts carbon dioxide emissions by over 13 tonnes per annum, the equivalent of the amount absorbed by almost 3,000 trees.

With now close to 20,000 parcel lockers throughout the country, Poland is the largest market in Europe. InPost is by far the biggest market player with 16,500 parcel lockers. There are also many lockers in smaller towns, making the service more easily accessible. In addition, InDoor parcel lockers have recently begun to be appear in shopping centres, the staircases of residential blocks and ground floor units.

InPost lockers are not, however, the only automated machines from which we can pick up our parcels. Last year, Allegro launched its One Box by Allegro logistics service based on its own network of parcel lockers, which already comprises 1,000 units, but aims to have at least 3,000 by the end of the year. PKN Orlen is developing its own plans for its ‘Orlen Paczka’ service – it already has 450 lockers, available 24/7, with customers having three working days to collect a parcel. According to the company, consumers will be able to access 2,000 machines across the country by the end of 2022. Poczta Polska, in collaboration with Danish-based Swipbox, has installed more than 200 self-service machines – they are not, however, a separate service, but part of its ‘Odbiór w Punkcie’ scheme. As a result, shoppers will not be dependent on the opening hours of post offices. They will also be able to forward a parcel to one of thousands of locations included in the scheme, including Żabka grocery stores, PKN Orlen petrol stations and Ruch newsagents. Around a year ago, AliExpress launched a network of parcel lockers operated by its logistics branch, Cainiao. The network currently comprises around several hundred lockers, with an eventual goal of expanding this to 8,000 units.

The growth in the numbers of parcel lockers has clearly been boosted by the rise of e-commerce in Poland, where online retail sales have already surpassed PLN 100 bln and are expected to exceed the PLN 250 bln mark by 2025, up by 20 pct per annum, according to Unity Group. In Q4 2021 alone, InPost delivered 71 pct more parcels than in the same period a year earlier, while over the whole of 2021 it processed 424 mln parcels – a volume comparable to that of the entire CEP (courier express and parcel) sector in 2018, which ended with 493 mln parcels delivered. It is therefore very likely that the magic number of a billion parcels a year handled by the Polish courier network will be surpassed this year. With such dynamics, Poland is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets, albeit still accounting for just a few percent of Europe’s total e-commerce sales (EUR 757 bln).

Not just packages

In the near future, parcel lockers will be used not only for collecting and sending parcels. In several cities throughout Poland, including Kraków and Gorzów, InPost lockers can already be accessed to collect replacement vehicle logbooks for new MOT test entries, vehicle licence duplicates, driving licences, registration plates or vehicle logbooks.

Cushman & Wakefield’s ‘Last Link’ report last year confirmed that making the drivetime from an urban depot to the first delivery point 10 minutes closer generates savings of EUR 1 mln per year, which is a strong incentive for expanding networks of parcel lockers, pick-up points and click & collect points and for installing such machines in brick-and-mortar stores. Home deliveries will continue to be provided by the CEP sector, but they will become increasingly expensive. As a result, Amazon is planning to open more than a thousand small delivery hubs in cities and suburban neighbourhoods across the US in an effort to cut delivery costs and offer same-day deliveries. Looking ahead, the Polish market will certainly see new last-mile and urban logistics growth, especially as quick deliveries are key for Polish consumers, which sets Poland apart from other European markets.


About C&W

Cushman & Wakefield (NYSE: CWK) is a leading global real estate services firm that delivers exceptional value for real estate occupiers and owners. It is among the largest real estate services companies in the world, with approximately 50,000 employees in 400 offices and 60 countries. In 2020, it generated revenues of USD 7.8 bln from its core services of property, facilities and project management, leasing, capital markets, valuation and other services.