Parcel Locker FAQ’s

Since the boom of online shopping, people are finding themselves dealing with shipping and tracking terms, practices, and situations that they may not be accustomed to. When you’re not accustomed to the lingo, it can be tough to figure it out on your own- especially if a carrier isn’t dropping off a package at your door. 

What is the difference between a P.O. Box and a Parcel Locker? Where can I find a Parcel Locker? What does this tracking message mean? 

These and many other questions relating to Parcel Lockers will be answered here on the Parcel Locker FAQ page.

Table of Contents

  1. What is a parcel locker? – Parcel Locker Meaning
  2. What is Considered Parcel?
  3. What’s the Difference Between a Parcel and a Package?
  4. How does a parcel locker work?
  5. Are parcel lockers safe?
  6. How long can a package stay in a parcel locker?
  7. How do I retrieve a package from the parcel locker?
  8. Is a parcel locker a P.O. Box?
  9. How big are parcel lockers?
  10. Why is my package in a parcel locker? 
  11. What are smart parcel lockers?
  12. What can smart lockers be used for? 
  13. Why Does My Package Say Delivered to Mailroom?
  14. How much do smart lockers cost? 
  15. Where are parcel lockers located?
  16. What is a USPS Parcel Locker?
  17. Where is My USPS Parcel Locker?
  18. What is a Parcel Locker for USPS?
  19. What does “Delivered Parcel Locker” Mean?
  20. What’s a Parcel Locker at the Post Office?

What is a parcel locker? – Parcel Locker Meaning

Parcel lockers are lockers that are designed to keep parcels safe from theft and unsavory weather. These differ from typically sized mailboxes and will hold packages that wouldn’t fit into mail-type lockers, mailboxes, or PO boxes.

There are many different manufacturers out there that fabricate parcel lockers, but all generally use standards set by USPS to make things more predictable and uniform. USPS will not approve or use parcel lockers that don’t meet their standards. 

Parcel lockers can be pre-built into stand-alone units or wall-mounted units. They can vary in size, but generally, standard USPS-approved lockers are all about 12” wide and 15” deep. The height is where the greatest variance comes into play- averaging anywhere from 13.5” to 19.75” high. 

Because space can rapidly become an issue, parcel lockers are universally used on an as-needed basis by carriers for all residents, rather than each resident having a personal parcel locker as they’d already have mailboxes.

Without parcel lockers, the delivery of parcels was a more complicated and time-consuming process. Depending on the population density and residential type, parcels were more likely to be damaged by weather, surroundings, excessive handling, or even stolen. 

Often, a carrier would make someone head to their closest post office to retrieve a package if the carrier couldn’t find a safe and secure place to leave the parcel. In comes the parcel locker to solve this problem. 

Parcel lockers have become much more popular in the last 10 years. Delivery people find that it is a much more efficient system. Now it is no longer a convenience, but a necessity in most residential communities. 

They are larger than regular mailboxes and P.O. boxes, allowing people to order larger quantities or items as well as perishable items such as food and medication. 

The United States Postal Service, as well as private organizations, are using parcel lockers to reduce delivery times, excessive handling, and overall costs.

What is Considered Parcel?

This is a question that people don’t typically ask, but wrongly assume they know the answer to. Assumers would probably say that parcels are any kind of mail or large boxes, but neither of those answers would be right. 

A parcel is anything that isn’t a flat form of media or packaging. Letters, postcards, or large envelopes are all mail or post, not parcels. 

A parcel is a package that can be handled by one person without assistance and weighs less than 100 pounds. 

What’s the Difference Between a Parcel and a Package?

These two terms are almost synonymous, and the majority of the time people that use them interchangeable won’t be wrong in doing so. However, there is one slight difference in definition between the two.

Packages

You can package just about anything, consisting of an outer cardboard cover of some sort. A package can be of all shapes and sizes, without any real uniformity. 

Boxed items or items in a make-shift and pieced-together box (like a pair of skis perhaps) would be considered packages rather than parcels. In general, “packages” are a term used when shapes and sizes fall out of uniformity.

Parcels

Parcels are uniform in size and shape. Rectangular boxes that are easy to manage, stack, and deliver. It can also be a boxed item that is wrapped in shipping paper, rather than being placed in an additional box for shipping.

It is recognized that the largest difference between the two terms is location rather than meaning. In other words, you’ll find that the United States will most commonly call all boxed items packages, while people in the United Kingdom refer to the same packages as parcels.

How does a parcel locker work?

For Luxer One

Luxer One has revolutionized the parcel locker industry making it incredibly easy to drop off and pick up packages from safe and secure lockers.

  • The carrier drops off a package into an open locker.
  • The person expecting a package will receive a notification on their phone that they have a package waiting for them.
  • They can then scan the barcode on their phone to open the locker and retrieve your package.

For USPS

The parcel locker is utilized when delivered items are too big to fit in a small compartment within a “Cluster Box”.  A key to open the parcel locker will be left in the smaller mailbox.  This key will have a tag indicating the parcel locker number that is holding your item.  Once the key is inserted into the lock and unlocked, the item is removed, and the key will remain in the lock.

Are parcel lockers safe?

Yes, parcel lockers are much safer than leaving packages nearby a mailbox cluster on their own. Theft, weather, and less necessity for person-to-person contact are three good reasons why they are a safer option. 

Parcel Lockers are Safer Against Theft

For several reasons, parcel lockers are considered safe. For instance, “porch pirates” are unable to steal packages that are in a secure parcel locker. 

Luxer One lockers are made with 12-gauge steel and have internal hinges making it very difficult to break open the locker to steal anything inside.

For most parcel locker systems, criminals would have to go above and beyond to be able to pound open a parcel locker door, drawing attention to themselves as well as requiring heavy or electric tools. 

Not nearly worth the effort or the risk. 

Parcel Lockers are Safer Against the Elements

Additionally, packages are safe from environmental elements such as rain, snow, and wind. Adequate weatherproofing is the difference between an inside unit and units designed to strictly be outdoors.

Depending on the manufacturer of the parcel locker, some are designed to accommodate items that require temperature-controlled environments- such as refrigeration. In this sense, parcels are kept safe from becoming warmer than their contents can handle.

Parcel Lockers Prevent Additional Person-to-Person Contact

In the age of post-Covid-19, contactless transactions are a staple to avoid transmitting Covid or other diseases. Parcel lockers allow for minimal interaction between delivery personnel and the end recipient.

How long can a package stay in a parcel locker?

A parcel locker can hold a package for up to 7 to 10 days; however, it may be the regulation of the apartment complex for tenants to remove packages within 48 to 72 hours to make room for incoming packages.  

If the rules of the complex are not followed, the tenant may be fined by the complex (owners of the parcel lockers).

Parcel lockers are used as needed, and the sooner a package has been removed from the locker, the sooner it can be reused by a different recipient if the carrier needs an available locker. There are always more tenants and mailboxes than there will be parcel lockers. 

For the above reasons, it’s both wise and considerate to attain your package as soon as you can.

How do I retrieve a package from the parcel locker?

For Luxer One

You will receive a notification on your phone that you have a package waiting for you. Once at the lockers, scan the barcode on your phone to open the locker and retrieve your package.

If you don’t have a tablet or cell phone, a printout of the barcode will suffice for scanning. You’d likely receive an email notification containing all that you’d need. 

For USPS

The package is scanned by a post office employee and a key is placed in the buyer’s assigned P.O. Box. The key is used to retrieve the package and the key will remain in the lock until it is removed by a post office employee. 

Also, notification can happen via the internet or phone/text communication that there is a package in the parcel locker that is ready to be retrieved.

Is a parcel locker a P.O. Box?

No. Although they both hold delivered items, a P.O. Box is owned by the United States Post Office and rented by individuals. 

Parcel lockers are larger than P.O. boxes and are privately owned by apartment buildings, corporations, or in conjunction with a system of PO boxes at the post office. If someone has sent you something too large for a PO box, it’ll be waiting in a nearby parcel locker.

P.O. Boxes usually hold small packages, letters, and magazines. Parcel lockers can hold oversized packages or several small packages. Both a P.O. Box and a parcel locker have a sturdy lock and single key access for enhanced security.

How big are parcel lockers?

The standard overall size of a commercial parcel locker is 79 inches tall, 39 ½ inches wide, and the depth is 24 inches.  Additions can be included to accommodate larger or refrigerated lockers.

Locker compartment sizes can vary but do so mostly in height. USPS standard is a width of at least 12 inches and a depth of at least 15 inches. Manufacturers can grow on these numbers, but will not be lesser than these dimensions in depth and width.

Why is my package in a parcel locker?

Your package is in a parcel locker because it is too large to fit in a standard P.O. Box, or mailbox. In situations where a parcel locker is on-site, the carrier will place your package in a parcel locker rather than leave it sitting in front of the cluster.  

Many people are ordering large deliveries (including perishable items) rather than going out to shop for them. Standard-sized mailboxes no longer fit the bill for much more than simple mail. Larger parcel lockers hold items that are too big to fit into a person’s standard-size mail locker or box.

Why Was My Package Delivered to a Parcel Locker?

Why is my parcel delivered to a parcel locker instead of being delivered to my door? One reason could be that your package was too large for the available postal storage equipment at your location, i.e., mailboxes, lockers, or other postage containers. 

If you’re in an apartment complex or a gated community, the carrier can’t physically come knocking on your door. The carrier will leave the package in a parcel locker rather than leave it out in the open or return it to the office. 

This is a decision that is also made if your location isn’t safe or secure enough to leave at your front door. There is little to no recourse for customers who have packages stolen from an insecure area. 

Weather is also a factor. If a delivery address has no means of protection from the weather such as a porch, overhang, etc., the package is then placed into a parcel locker to stay safe from the elements. 

When any of the above is at play, the package would then be forwarded to a parcel locker equipped to can contain your package, ensuring its safety from thievery or the elements. 

If none of the above pertains to you, there could have been an error made by the carrier. Take all of your tracking information, and head down to the nearest post office to inquire about the package. You’ll either be able to pick the package up from there or get the ball rolling for them to retrieve and re-deliver it to your door.

What are smart parcel lockers?

The difference between a parcel locker and a smart parcel locker is the use of technology to make deliveries more efficient for the carrier and also the end-user. Distributing the package from the locker is automated, as well as the notifications sent to the receiver.

Smart parcel lockers are automated in the sense that notification of delivery is sent directly to the receipt via email or text message. Within the message is the notification that your package has been delivered, where it has been delivered, and instructions on how to retrieve your package from the locker. 

This type of quick automatic notification means that parcels are picked up quicker and delivery is not interrupted by not having available lockers for future deliveries.

What can smart lockers be used for?

Smart lockers can be used for weekly groceries including perishable items such as dairy items; meal kits; laundry and dry cleaning; and even medicine deliveries. 

Additionally, companies can use smart lockers to manage and track assets incoming, outgoing, and within the company itself. When internal exchanges of expensive equipment are involved, a smart locker can be used for asset management to record who has what, and what’s going where, from department to department.

Why Does My Package Say Delivered to Mailroom?

Sometimes problems crop up in the delivery process which are always two things- unexpected and inconvenient. Receiving messages such as “Delivered to Mailroom” is an indicator that something’s up. 

When you’ve checked the tracking status on your package and it tells you “Delivered to Mailroom,” it could mean a few different things. 

Undeliverable Conditions

“Delivered to Mailroom” could mean that the package was undeliverable when an attempt was made and returned to the nearest postal facility. Damage to mailboxes, heavy snowfall, or anything that has transpired to make the package physically unable to be delivered outside of their control will be categorized under this message.

Most often the package is brought back to the closest postal service’s mailroom, and most of the time can be available for pick up at that location. When it’s not possible to pick it up at the office, it is likely not offloaded from the delivery truck yet.

Swapping Services

Some companies use “Delivered to Mailroom” if there is a switching of hands from one service or company to another. 

For example, let’s say your package was picked up by a postal service and began its long journey to your location. At some point along the trip, the postal service may have transferred your package to a different shipping company (UPS for example) for a variety of reasons. 

In this instance, it would be a literal delivery by the postal service to UPS. The tracking would then start from where it was delivered, in this case, UPS’s mailroom. Often this would be the last stop before its final delivery to the end customer.

How much do smart lockers cost?

The configuration of smart lockers varies; therefore, so does the total cost. However, for a standard unit (20 to 25 lockers) plus a refrigerated unit (8 to 10 lockers), the cost of the hardware starts at $21,000.

The one-time fee for shipping and installation should be under $2,000.  Depending on the company that owns the lockers, there could also be a monthly support fee of a couple of hundred dollars.

Where are parcel lockers located?

Usually, parcel lockers are found in common areas where postal workers and other couriers will be able to easily access them. Some common areas include but are not limited to lobbies of apartment complexes, reception areas, large supermarkets, hospitals, shopping malls, colleges, and sidewalks. 

Wherever mail is commonly delivered to multiple recipients in one concentrated area, there will usually be a parcel locker in the mix. USPS parcel lockers can be found in any of the above areas, but are also used in areas designated for PO boxes within the post office itself.

What is a USPS Parcel Locker?

USPS owns parcel lockers that are often combined with other mailbox units within a community mail center, a building’s mailroom, or a mailbox unit cluster. The parcel lockers provide a more convenient and secure delivery, avoiding having to leave large parcels out in the open. 

When a location is chosen to have a parcel locker installed by USPS, residents are given keys (or codes for newer keyless models) that will allow access to their package. 

This addition to their routine service should not be confused with their other services that involve parcel lockers. 

What is Gopost?

Gopost differs from the routine service provided by USPS. Where parcel lockers can be placed as an addition to a community mailroom or other community mailbox areas, gopost is a large self-contained unit, allowing customers to locate and pick up their packages in one-time, specific boxes. 

USPS services such as “gopost” use parcel lockers incorporated into their units to accommodate larger packages, as well as small to mid-sized parcels. This is a service that is outside of their routine deliveries and involves more hands-on scheduling with the package recipient. 

To use the parcel lockers via gopost, an account is required. The account number that you are provided with will be included in your delivery address, which must be the location of the chosen gopost.

Where is My USPS Parcel Locker?

I’ve received a text that tells me that my package is in a USPS parcel locker. How do I know where it is?

Well, if your community mail center or building’s mailroom has nobody available to help you, there are a few things you can do to pin down the parcel locker holding your delivery. 

Call USPS

Making a phone call to your local post office will most often do the trick unless you’re lucky enough to catch the mail carrier- in which case you can just ask him. 

Ask Management or Local Staff

If you’re in an apartment building or a gated community, ask management or the receptionist (if there is one) and they should also be able to help you out. 

The janitor or maintenance workers can give you a target to shoot for as well if they’re regular employees. They know the building and the grounds better than anyone- they might even be fellow tenants. 

Check your Mailbox

Also, if you live in an area where cluster mailboxes are being used, you may want to check in your regular mailbox. Often, if your package has been placed into a parcel locker rather than a mailbox, the USPS carrier will leave a key for you in your regular mailbox. 

In most scenarios, the parcel locker is within eyeshot of the mailboxes, much larger than the regular-sized compartments. Use the key in the nearby parcel locker to retrieve your package.

What Does Delivered to a Parcel Locker Mean?

A parcel locker is a containment unit that is larger than the regular-sized parcel units commonly associated with mailbox clusters. Parcel lockers are often incorporated into the mailbox system or are placed near where carriers deliver mail and packages.

If it’s too large for the mailbox, the carrier will then place it in a parcel locker if leaving a package out in the open (such as in front of a garage or on a doorstep) is either undesirable or unavailable.

What does “Delivered at Parcel Locker Mean?”

If “Delivered at parcel Locker” is the latest status in your package’s tracking information, it means that your package is awaiting you in the locker, ready for you to come and get it. 

The method of opening the parcel locker will differ depending on how the mail system is situated in your building or the immediate community mail center. Also, not every parcel system is owned by the same company or carrier being used, so getting into the locker will depend on the situation. 

What is a Parcel Locker for USPS?

Parcel lockers can be purchased by anyone. There are privately owned parcel lockers as well as those owned by postal services. These hold larger packages that cannot be placed or stored inside a regular-sized parcel container or mailbox.

A USPS parcel locker is literally that- a parcel locker that is owned by the United States Postal Service. These lockers can be placed into an area by request of a business or through the volition of USPS to ease burdenous routes on their carriers.

For a building to be eligible to have a parcel locker (or lockers) on site provided by USPS, there is a 1:5 parcel locker per customer compartment ratio that must be either met or exceeded. With this condition met, they can furnish a mail area with indoor lockers or outdoor, depending on the situation. 

To simplify things, these lockers are placed alongside or attached to existing mailbox clusters, or within a mailroom. A place of convenience for the carrier and the recipient alike.

Often, they are fashioned within a locker unit combined with regular-sized parcel boxes. When this is the case, each resident is provided with a lock and three keys that operate the parcel locker as well as their regular post box. 

What does “Delivered Parcel Locker” Mean?

You’ve been waiting for a package to arrive, and when the day comes, you receive a tracking message that says “Delivered Parcel Locker.” The “Delivered Parcel Locker” status in the tracking tells you the status, plus the location of your package.

The package has hit the end of its journey and is awaiting you to come and pick it up. This means that the carrier has placed your package inside a parcel locker located at your building or mail receiving area. 

You will likely have a temporary key that will be waiting for you in your regular post receptacle- often not far from the parcel locker itself. These keys stay within the lock after it has been used to open the locker. 

All you need to do is use the key, open the door, take your package, and walk away. The mail carrier will remove the key next time the use of the locker is required.

What’s a Parcel Locker at the Post Office?

Some Post Offices have parcel lockers available to be used by recipients that are in tandem with their post office box. The idea is to prevent people with PO boxes from having to wait in line to collect packages that won’t fit into their boxes. 

They can just arrive at their PO box, find the key placed inside by the postal worker, open the box and receive the package. 

For a Post Office that regularly has a sleepy traffic flow, this may not be a big deal. But for bustling post offices that typically have lines of customers waiting for service, parcel lockers save a lot of time and keep traffic flowing at the service desk.

For most USPS offices, the lockers are the type that uses the key system that holds the key in the lock after its first use by the recipient. Users can just open the box with the provided key and walk away leaving the key in place.

Final Word

Parcel lockers and smart lockers are here to stay. They are a huge convenience to your tenants as this is the age of having everything delivered directly to your home. 

Online shopping has taken a permanent foothold in the marketplace, is burgeoning, and the variety of items that people are willing to wait for is ever-changing. While brick-and-mortar stores still have their place, online stores are expanding their product base, becoming more attractive to shoppers. 

Since Covid-19, people who wouldn’t have bothered ordering anything online were forced to do so, making them more comfortable with the idea. Economists have estimated that the eCommerce bottom line has been booming since 2020, raking in over $218.53 billion between 2020 and 2021- a number not anticipated to be reached until 2023.

This eCommerce boom means that all of this stuff has to go somewhere, and has to be delivered safely. Think about it… 

Of all the items that have been ordered online over the past few years, how many of them do you think would fit into a mailbox? An overwhelming percentage of them were either delivered to a customer’s door or placed into parcel lockers by local carriers (for places wise enough to have them on site). 

People get used to this kind of thing and even after stores opened up, and fears began to settle, online sales are still streamlining. How packages are treated and received has become more important than ever, and words don’t do justice to how one feels about their packages getting banged up, ruined, or stolen, from being left in a mail reception area unequipped with parcel lockers- particularly outdoors. 

Parcel lockers provide convenience to carriers and shoppers alike. After all, isn’t that the original point behind ordering items in the first place?

Who wants to go shopping and lug huge boxes and bags back home? Not me. If you have not looked into parcel lockers yet, now is the time.

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