What is a Parcel Locker?

How Apartment Package Lockers Work

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Parcel lockers represent the future of package management in multi-family residential settings, offering unparalleled convenience and security.

In the U.S. alone, over 85% of residents shop online, leading to a deluge of daily deliveries. For instance, a 200-unit building now averages 50 packages per day, a volume that traditional delivery methods struggle to manage efficiently.

How Package Lockers Work

Parcel lockers streamline this process, reducing the burden on property managers and enhancing resident satisfaction. They mitigate risks of theft and damage, evident in a significant decrease in lost parcels. By adopting this innovative solution, property managers can modernize their facilities, offering a secure, 24/7 accessible, and efficient package delivery system, crucial in today’s fast-paced, e-commerce-driven world.

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The carrier delivers the package to the locker, triggering recipient notifications with an access code.

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The recipient receives a notification on their phone when a package is ready for pickup.

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Recipient scans their access barcode at the locker and verifies their identification.

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The assigned locker opens, and the recipient can grab their package.

A parcel locker is a secure storage system that allows users to send and receive parcels conveniently and securely. It consists of lockers in public or semi-public areas such as shopping centers, airports, and train stations. Carriers can place their parcels inside each locker for safekeeping until the recipient collects them. Parcel locker systems provide a safe and reliable way for online shoppers to receive their packages without worrying about leaving items vulnerable outside or waiting for delivery.

Additionally, parcel lockers offer automated 24/7 access with no need for staffing or manual key management. Using an app or website to check the status of your package, users can access their locker with a secure pin code anytime, day or night, and pick up their package at their convenience.

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

Many manufacturers 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 Locker Meaning

A parcel locker is a secure storage system that allows users to send and receive parcels conveniently and securely. It consists of lockers in public or semi-public areas such as shopping centers, airports, and train stations.

Carriers can place their parcels inside each locker for safekeeping until the recipient collects them.

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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 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, carriers universally use parcel lockers on an as-needed basis 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. 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 and perishable items such as food and medication. 

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

What is Considered A 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 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. 

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

These two terms are almost synonymous, and most of the time, people who use them interchangeably won’t be wrong. 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 used when shapes and sizes fall out of uniform.

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 wrapped in shipping paper rather than 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.

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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 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 near a mailbox cluster alone. Theft, weather, and less necessity for person-to-person contact are good reasons they are a safer option. 

Parcel Lockers are Safer Against Theft

For several reasons, parcel lockers are considered safe. For instance, “porch pirates” cannot steal packages in a secure parcel locker. 

Luxer One locker is made with 12-gauge steel and has 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 be outdoors strictly.

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.

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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 wise and considerate to attain your package as soon as possible.

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

A post office employee scans the package, placing a key in the buyer’s assigned P.O. Box. The key retrieves the package and remains locked until a post office employee removes it. 

Also, notification can happen via the internet or phone/text communication that a package in the parcel locker 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. A P.O. Box and a parcel locker have a sturdy lock and single key access for enhanced security.

How big are parcel lockers or delivery boxes for packages?

The standard overall size of a commercial parcel locker is 79 inches tall and 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. When a parcel locker is on-site, the carrier will place your package in a parcel locker rather than leave it 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 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 your location’s available postal storage equipment, 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 or return it to the office rather than in the open. 

This decision 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 with packages stolen from an insecure area. 

Weather is also a factor. If a delivery address is not protected from the weather, such as a porch, overhang, etc., the package is placed into a parcel locker to stay safe from the elements. 

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

If none of the above pertains to you, the carrier could have made an error. Take all your tracking information, and head 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.

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Package Locker Systems by Luxer One

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 the end user. Distributing the package from the locker and the notifications sent to the receiver are automated.

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 retrieving 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. 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 is always two things- unexpected and inconvenient. Receiving messages such as “Delivered to Mailroom” indicates 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 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 impossible 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 hands are switched 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 various reasons. 

In this instance, it would be a literal delivery by the postal service to UPS. The tracking would 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.

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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 hardware costs $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 hundred dollars.

Where are parcel lockers located?

Usually, parcel lockers are found in common areas where postal workers and couriers can easily access them. Some common areas include the 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 they are also used in areas designated for PO boxes within the post office.

What is a USPS Parcel Locker?

USPS owns parcel lockers 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 leaving 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 other services involving 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 and small to mid-sized parcels. This service is outside 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 you are provided with will be included in your delivery address, which must be the location of the chosen gopost.

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Where is My USPS Parcel Locker?

I’ve received a text telling me 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 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); they should also be able to help you. 

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

Check your Mailbox or delivery box for packages

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 larger than regular 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 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, your package is awaiting you in the locker, ready 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. 

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What is a Parcel Locker for USPS?

Anyone can purchase parcel lockers. 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 a parcel locker owned by the United States Postal Service. These lockers can be placed in an area by request of a business or through the volition of USPS to ease burdens 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. 

These lockers are placed alongside or attached to existing mailbox clusters or within a mailroom to simplify things—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 happens, each resident is provided with a lock and three keys that operate the parcel locker and 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 the carrier has placed your package inside a parcel locker 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 waiting in line to collect packages that won’t fit into their boxes. 

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

This may not be a big deal for a Post Office that regularly has a sleepy traffic flow. 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 open the box with the provided key and walk away, leaving the key in place.

What Does “shipment received package acceptance pending” Mean

When your package has been accepted by USPS but has not arrived at the sorting facility, you receive a “shipment received package acceptance pending” notification. This notification is to inform you that your package has arrived at USPS and is ready to head on over to the sorting facility.

Outdoor Parcel Lockers - Westclub Park

Final Word on Parcel Lockers

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 and is burgeoning, and the variety of items 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 must go somewhere and be delivered safely. Think about it… 

Of all the items 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 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. 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 parcels 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, now is the time.

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GSParcel Staff (55)

GS Parcel is a registered reseller and installer of Luxer One parcel lockers, parcel rooms, asset management systems, and refrigerated lockers. Luxer One is revolutionizing the parcel locker industry and their self-serve, contactless pickup, and drop-off solutions are second to none. From the hardware to the software to the internal electronics, their lockers are designed in-house. They’ve built high-quality products that you can trust.

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