Online shopping used to be a novel concept for many till a few years back but today it has become a common part of our shopping experiences. All people have to do is press a few buttons and swipe their credit/debit cards and get the product delivered at their doorsteps. Speaking of online shopping, a product’s delivery is the final leg of its journey from the time it leaves the warehouse to the time it reaches the customer’s location. But the current logistics system isn’t equipped to deliver flawlessly, given the unreliable schedules and lives of this on-the-go target market. The sector for last mile delivery is deeply affected by high costs due to failed deliveries caused by wrong addresses, bad internet, lack of proper roads, etc. which eventually lead to multiple delivery attempts.
Addressing this solution is a smart and easy way is a new solution in the market – Smartbox. Co-founded by Amit Sawhney and Vineet Sawhney in 2015, Delhi-based startup, Smartbox, is a network of automated parcel delivery terminals. The company is an eCommerce enabler which makes receiving online deliveries as convenient as shopping online. It provides an alternative solution where the delivery boy could simply drop the parcel at a secure locker right near user’s apartment and the users could pick it up in their own sweet time.
Smartbox’s solution addresses that by first eliminating ‘last mile’ from the equation and, secondly, automating the consumer experience of accepting deliveries. “As we envision it, Smartbox is the answer to the last mile delivery problems of Indian E-commerce Industry. Smartbox terminals are placed at strategic locations for easy drop and collection and are available 24/7 for round the clock deliveries. Deliveries can be made at night and collected in the morning”, said Vineet.
Every Smartbox terminal has 52 lockers in small, medium and large sizes. The terminal is completely automated and compact, similar to an ATM. The online shopper does not have to physically coordinate with a courier person to accept deliveries, thus sorting out the issue of receiving deliveries when they are not at home.
A Smartbox operates in the following manner
- Step 1: Order Online and choose Smartbox as a delivery option
- Step 2: Delivery person drops off the parcel at the chosen Smartbox terminal, the customer receives OTP on email and via SMS.
- Step 3: Using that OTP, customer collects parcel from the terminal on the day and time that is most convenient.
Once the parcel is delivered to Smartbox terminal, regular notifications are sent to the customer, first at the time the parcel is delivered, second after 24 hrs, third after 48 hrs and last one 6 hrs before the parcel expires. If the parcel is not collected even after 72 hrs then it is marked as expired and is returned to the eCommerce client.
Till date the company has deployed 20 terminals and plans to scale up to 125 terminals in Delhi NCR by July 2016. Next step would be to take this number to 1000 by covering top 8 cities by the end of FY 2016. Currently, the company works in integration with Snapdeal, Shopclues, Oriflame & Voonik and are in advance tie-up stages with more such portals. The company earns by charging clients depending upon the number and weight of the parcels. Smartbox is currently financed by its parent company, Friends Color Images Pvt Ltd, a variable data management company and is looking at raising funds.
Smartbox cofounder Vineet believes that to make e-Commerce a long-term success story in India, a lot of investments must go into infrastructure, especially logistics infrastructure. The collective efforts to improve last mile logistics infrastructure will act an advantage for players and consumers alike. So can innovations like Smartbox bring in more efficiency in the system? Share your views with us.