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Packstation or home address? How sustainable parcel delivery succeeds


Anyone who thinks that retailers have their busiest time behind them after the Christmas season, which is slowly but surely approaching, is mistaken: According to the German Federal Statistical Office, retail companies generate by far their highest sales per year in January1. In the stationary retail sector, sales and other discount campaigns attract a lot of customers to the stores2. According to the Klarna Shopping Pulse study, the type of preferred shopping method is a question of age: the frontrunner in online shopping is GenZ, i.e. 18 to 24-year-olds, 64 percent of whom order online at least once a week.

However, packing and pick-up stations are becoming increasingly popular, especially in urban areas. Whether freestanding in central locations or integrated into retail outlets, they provide customers with easy access to goods previously ordered online. In addition, delivery to Packstations ensures delivery at the first attempt, so that online shoppers no longer have to chase after their parcels to the nearest post office or have to be at home at certain times, issue drop-off permits or even ask friends or neighbors to accept the shipment.

But the stations also speed up some delivery routines for suppliers, as they eliminate the need for time-consuming bell searches, the eternal climb up and down stairs, multiple trips or incorrectly entered delivery addresses. So for these two players, delivery to Packstations is a viable alternative, but how beneficial is this trend for retail companies?


Address data is among the most valuable customer master data


It is advantageous for retailers to integrate Packstations into local retail stores. In this way, they can also attract the convinced online shoppers into the store. In addition, the use of Packstations strengthens cross-selling potential in the stores. After all, once shoppers have already been to the store, they often look around further and discover even more things they would like to take with them.

A significant advantage of the stations lies primarily in the additional data that arises with their use: While the billing address usually includes the residential address, the pickup requires the address of the Packstation. This creates a more complete data record that reveals not only where the customer lives, but also the radius in which he or she shops. So there is another address to a person. The data from the Packstation locations completes the 360-degree view of the customer, helping to better understand and shape the customer journey and develop individual offers.

How can it be more sustainable?


The introduction of Packstations is therefore beneficial for customers and suppliers as well as for retail companies. But can a statement be made as to whether delivery to a Packstation is also more sustainable than conventional delivery to a private home address? After all, retail and logistics companies are increasingly subject to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) directives such as the EU's "Non-Financial Reporting Directive" (NFRD), which includes reporting requirements on sustainability-related activities of large companies. According to research conducted by Sesam GmbH back in 2019, delivery to pick-up stations can save 50 percent CO2 compared to doorstep delivery - and that's even compared to successful first-time delivery to a home address. A few years earlier, the University of Bamberg came to a similar conclusion in a study, despite the fact that the distances traveled by deliveries to pickup stations are longer on average than those to private addresses. However, in view of the growing parcel volumes, more solutions will be needed for many years to come to cope with the flood of parcels in a sustainable way.


Efficient route planning through data management


One of these further measures could be efficient route planning. This involves coordinating the trips of delivery teams in advance. However, this requires solid address data management. This is because the address data of the deliveries on which route planning and thus the route are based often pose their own challenges: Sometimes the house entrance with bell is far from the street, other times two adjacent houses on the same street have different postal codes. The consequences are extra trips, long searches and returns to the post office. Or different deliverers deliver to practically the same place with adjacent postal codes, which could also be accessed by one person with data-based planning.

Two measures provide some relief and resource conservation here: First, well-maintained, up-to-date customer databases are important to avoid chaos in delivery. Ideally, these contain not only postal addresses but also additional geodata, such as What3Words or Point. They make it easier to find buildings and building entrances, for example on a company site. On the other hand, autocompletions in data management tools also already help when entering customer address data, as they can avoid typing errors. Address validation can also verify that the correct address has been entered.

If these conditions are met, a good basis has been laid for more efficient, resource-saving delivery runs. If zero-emission vehicles are also used, another step is taken toward environmentally friendly parcel delivery. There is also the positive side effect that several shipments can be brought to the packing station collectively by one vehicle.


Creating a holistic database: networking online and offline commerce


Successful networking of online and offline commerce enables customers to make a choice that is - literally - obvious to them. However, this also requires central, holistic data management that brings together all essential customer information. Different delivery options should provide supplementary information and make customers' preferences more visible. After all, sustainable products and services as well as climate-friendly consumption have never been more in demand. Those who offer sustainable sales channels are paying tribute to their green conscience. In this way, not only can new customer relationships be established, but many a business process can also be optimized.

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