A courier who brings a food package or the ordered parcel to home has become a widespread service. For those who don't want to answer the courier's phone call, an even more comfortable service has been activated: Owners of private houses can establish smart mailboxes at their gates, with a smartphone alert letting them know of the consignment's arrival.
Most customers say they prefer a rental service with a monthly fee of €10. Two service providers launched this year, both Estonian companies: Cleveron and ParcelSea.
The smart mailbox comprises several compartments; a thermobox can also hold frozen food for up to two hours at the right temperature.
As of now, both companies have service agreements with most retail chains who run e-stores, with Rimi being the last to sign up. In addition, they work with all courier service providers, so that the owner of the smart mailbox does not have to worry about being at home when a courier calls from behind the fence.
The smart mailbox also allows users to usually leave the mailbox next to the house or garden, since there is a solution for newspapers that is suitable for both.
The solutions of Cleveron and ParcelSea are technically somewhat different, but essentially similar. Cleveron's solution needs an app, ParcelSea delivers its own via SMS and codes, so all couriers or even a relative who brings food from their grandmother can access the lockers - none of them need a contract with the company to put something in the owner's mailbox.
ParcelSea is a newcomer to the marketplace. The company currently employs eight people, while the mailboxes themselves are assembled by Valdek, based i in Keila.
"We have been operating since the beginning of the year. We have not yet completed the installation of the first series - about 150-160 mailboxes have been installed, about 300 should be installed in the next few weeks. Initially, we will focus on Tallinn and Tartu, from there we will cover other areas as well," Tancel Raun, Business Development Manager, ParcelSea said.
Most of the smart mailboxes ordered from them are located in the predominantly upscale neighborhoods of Viimsi, Nõmme, Kakumäe, and Kristiine, where private houses abound. However, some mailboxes have already been ordered in the new development areas outside Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu, where an owner cannot drop everything as soon as the courier signals their arrival, because they might be at work in the city during the day.
To prevent food from going bad, there is a thermo box that maintains the required temperature for a few hours. This is what ensures the main customer base for product developers - most want to order groceries from the smart mailbox e-store. Food couriers can already pack food that requires a cooler temperature separately if it is known that the owner wants to leave the goods in the smart mailbox. You can write a note about this by ordering by e-shop.
The ParcelSea smart mailbox has three compartments, the largest of which, 140 liters, has a shopping cart capacity. It is for groceries. The medium-sized chamber corresponds to the M-size cabinets of parcel machines, and the smallest of which is intended for newspapers and letters. It was developed in collaboration with Omniva to meet the requirements of the post company. The top lid is open, but each compartment locks after filling with the package, sending a message to the owner when the package arrives.
The mailbox does not require electricity but runs on battery power. This allows it to be placed even in the middle of the field. The battery lasts for at least a year and its replacement is included in the rental price.
Although open-ended contracts are concluded with customers, access is free of charge if the mailbox is rented for at least half a year, otherwise, installation must also be paid for. The necessary software is also updated remotely. However, those who prefer to own instead of renting must take into account the cost of a thousand euros.
Raun confirms that they have only had to replace one mailbox completely - the first one they installed in January. This was caused by a winter snowstorm, which helped to further develop the product, and there should be no more such mistakes.
The smart mailbox also allows you to return products if, for example, it turns out that the ordered sneakers were small or the socks were the wrong color. The courier who brought the parcel then receives a code with which to open the smart cabinet and remove the inappropriate goods from there for return. Raun considers the ever-growing global e-business to be the company's future model, which will grow strongly alongside the ordering of food products.
Cleveron, based in Viljandi, started developing its solution three years ago. During the prototype development phase, all pediatric diseases were covered and the final solution was reached in spring when mass production and installation began. Today, the company's smart mailboxes already have nearly 500 private customers. However, it also operates in Latvia, where it has been launched in cooperation with the Latvian state postal company.
Editor: Roberta Vaino