Smart Locker Virtual Address: eCommerce’s Last-Mile Solution


Logistics innovations

There are a variety of situations in which consumers need a product on demand. For example, the home DIY project requiring a specific type of tape. An injury requiring first aid before heading off to an emergency room. Or a phone charger breaks and must be replaced before leaving on an early morning flight. Often, these needs occur outside of store hours. Smart Lockers may present a solution if someone needs to purchase and pick up a product outside of store hours.

Soon after the advent of the internet, people began using it for buying and selling. This trend only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once people realized the convenience of ordering items with nothing more than a tap on the screen, many didn’t want to go back to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Over three-quarters of U.S. adults report shopping online, and online sales are now worth trillions of dollars annually.

Home Delivery Distress

Many people don’t feel comfortable having their packages delivered to their home for various reasons. For example, some areas are plagued by constant porch pirates. In addition, delivery drivers may leave a package exposed during inclement weather or mishandle it. And some couriers may be unable to leave your item without you or a family member physically taking possession of it

Most know when they will not be home for a package delivery. Yet, shoppers want to ensure their item is kept safe until it is retrieved. Security is especially important as the average cost to replace a lost eCommerce order is over $100. So, over time, lost or damaged deliveries can add up

Environmental Impact

The environmental impacts of standard parcel delivery may be less than traditional shopping, where each consumer travels to the store individually. Still, environmentally savvy consumers always look for a better way to do things. Logistics companies are also searching for more environmentally friendly solutions considering 61% of companies state that last-mile delivery is the most inefficient part of the supply chain

What may be most surprising is that the retail sector is responsible for 50% of industrial carbon emissions. The amount of greenhouse gases created by the sector is greater than the automotive, gas, and oil industries combined. Last-mile delivery is only one portion of the emissions puzzle, but an important one as solutions exist today to reduce its impact. While consumers will never abandon online shopping and return wholly to the in-person shopping experience, picking up orders in nearby Smart Lockers is an alternative to front-door delivery that makes sense

The Smart Locker ‘Virtual Address’

A Smart Locker is a device that securely manages the process of deposit, storage, and retrieval of packages. Using a barcode scanner, couriers scan shipments which automatically opens a locker slot. Once the package has been deposited and the slot door closed, the intended recipient automatically receives a retrieval code. The recipient scans their code, releasing the slot door, and retrieves their delivery – easy and magical!

The concept of a Smart Locker ‘virtual address’ is not new. In the United Kingdom, the use of Smart Lockers to accept package deliveries on behalf of individuals has been available for almost a decade. However, this technology is just now reaching North America. 

Unlike a P.O. Box, where a person is assigned an individual physical mailbox, Smart Locker ‘virtual address’ owners are provided a unique code. The code identifies the individual, and the Smart Locker their address is assigned. Not being assigned a specific locker slot has three significant benefits:

  1. Since not all virtual address owners will receive packages every day, it means fewer locker slots than address owners are required, reducing the footprint necessary than a comparable assigned P.O. Box system.
  2. Smart Lockers are configured with different slot sizes to accommodate different sized packages. Since virtual address owners are not restricted to a predetermined slot size, they are able to retrieve packages small and large. 
  3. Virtual address owners also have the ability to change where they wish to accept their packages. For example, instead of sending deliveries to a Smart Locker near home, they may choose to have the item delivered to a Smart Locker closer to their work. 

Alternatives to home delivery do exist. For example, you may be able to have an item delivered to a nearby pharmacy or convenience store. However, retrieving your package delivery will still be subject to entering a physical location and queueing in line. Furthermore, picking up your delivery can only be done during store hours. Picking up a package from your local pharmacy service counter may be closer than driving to the post office, but the convenience ends there. 

Using a Smart Locker virtual address is a simple, contactless, and completely automated process. When placing an order online, you will simply enter a specified address and code. Once a courier deposits your package into the Smart Locker, you will receive a scannable barcode via SMS text and email. All that’s next is to approach the Smart Locker, scan your code, and retrieve your shipment. That’s it!

Smart Lockers and the virtual address are coming to North America soon. When they do, millions of consumers will have a secure, convenient, and environmentally friendly way to have their online purchases delivered.

To learn more about how your organization can maximize Smart Lockers to reduce cost, increase revenue, augment your brand, and delight your customers, contact the ParcelPort team online by visiting, email at or calling 1-800-818-0870.