- United Parcel Service announced Thursday it is expanding its Access Point smart locker package pick-up program to 300 new locations in five states—Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington—after completing a successful test at nine locations in Chicago.
- Retailers can integrate Smart Locker delivery addresses into their web checkout process, offering an alternative delivery location to consumers who live in residences where front-door package delivery is not possible.
- The UPS Access Point program pairs the shipper with neighborhood businesses doubling as package pickup and dropoff sites. There are now 8,000 Access Point locations nationwide: The smart lockers are typically found outside convenience stores and other sites that are open 24 hours per day. The lockers are part of UPS's strategy to reduce the cost of delivering e-commerce packages and appeal to new customer demands.
Even as Amazon itself gets into the shipping space, the online giant and other e-commerce companies are driving big and increasing business for UPS. That's inspiring UPS to steal a page from Amazon's book on how to do business by focusing on the customer experience.
The Access Point locker pickup program seems like a great option for customers who live areas that are difficult to access for truck delivery, or who might prefer to retrieve their own packages somewhere else rather than having them sit exposed on their front porches for much of the day while they're at work.
The program, which UPS says will come to include many more locations in the months ahead, also is a great way for UPS to control its own costs of delivery, such as fuel, at a time when it needs to carefully watch how Amazon continues to develop its own shipping strategy, and how that evolution affects its own bottom line.
Will UPS increasingly have to fear being bypassed by Amazon? It's still too early to tell, but it's a good time for UPS to focus on how to stay competitive in a changing shipping market, just as it's a good idea for the shipper to look at ways to keep its e-commerce partners and their customers happy at a time when e-commerce has never been more important to the company's success.