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Singapore plans parcel lockers network

Because of the common problem of nobody being home to accept deliveries of goods ordered online, the Singapore government has decided to set up neighbourhood parcel lockers.

Deputy-Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam says Singapore is probably the first country to institute such a system nationwide.

Also Co-ordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, Tharman made the announcement while attending the opening of the LF Logistics‘ regional distribution centre in Jurong West.

“While eCommerce is on the rise, ‘last-mile’ delivery – that final link in the logistics chain from the seller to the customer’s doorstep – is still an inefficient business in many parts of the world, including Singapore,” he said.

Tharman says many players are competing in last-mile delivery, but a common infrastructure would really raise the whole industry … which is why the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore(IDA) and economic agencies are working with businesses on “federated lockers”, initially in areas with high demand before being scaled up to become a nationwide system.

Some companies, including SingPost and logistics start-up NinjaVan, have started their own locker systems, but Tharman says it is impractical and costly for each company to set up its own lockers in each neighbourhood.

Far from considering the plan a threat to his business, NinjaVan co-founder and CEO Lai Chang Wen says the government initiative is an opportunity for collaboration that will help propel the growth of eCommerce.

With domestic logistics being in “the greatest need of transformation”, the government has two pilot projects this year to raise productivity in the industry, says Tharman. One is an in-mall distribution model – to be rolled out in Tampines Mall and Bedok Mall in July – and the second is an offsite consolidation centre.

Visa’s latest Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey shows that more than 70 per cent of consumers in Singapore shop online at least once a month.

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