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IMDA launches pilot for Singapore’s Federated Locker Initiative

Pic Credit : Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched the Locker Alliance pilot today. Part of the Logistics Industry Transformation Map, the Locker brings together various industry players such as locker operators, logistics service providers and e-marketplaces onto a single interoperable platform.

In Singapore, lockers are used as convenient delivery pickup points. It makes the last mile delivery process much more efficient and cost-effective since a delivery man is never missed. Parcels are sent to a conveniently located locker. From there, customers enter an authentication code to retrieve their item.

However, with the growth of e-commerce in Singapore, the last mile delivery processes have become crucial to building and retaining a solid customer base. Consumers want timely deliveries and convenience. Likewise, logistic service providers and online merchants are seeking to be cost-efficient while meeting an ever-growing customer base.

To this end, the Locker Alliance pilot has been launched for a period of one year.

“Implemented island-wide, logistics service providers can potentially see a 50% reduction in distance travelled by drivers and see a five-fold improvement in delivery efficiency. This in turn will support the exponential growth in e-commerce locally and regionally,” said Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, IMDA.

The Federated Locker initiative is developed by Parcel Perform. It has designed a platform to allow different locker operator networks to function collectively. Using a standardised data interchange, it creates a transparent, secure and consistent user experience across the delivery process.

Through the platform, each operator will utilise a standardised service mediation layer to orchestrate the last mile delivery. At present, many operators use unique proprietary programs. Locker Alliance streamlines the cacophony by using an API so that any operator may join the Alliance by simply switching to the standards prescribed, making it easier for an new operator to scale, reaching multiple locations.

Technical Reference 61 (TR61) provides a clear and robust framework to facilitate interoperability between parcel locker networks operated by various operators. It also caters to a wide range of delivery process scenarios. TR61 also provides the main data interchange specifications. It defines and describes the datasets required and recommends a protocol for communication between the online marketplaces, e-retailers, logistics service providers and parcel locker or collection point operators, via the interoperable platform.

The interoperability reduces friction in the communication between different locker operators and network users. Furthermore, the operational costs and complexity of different parcel locker systems working together is reduced. Thus, it is hoped that more operators will join in and benefit.

The Locker Alliance will provide greater convenience to consumers to receive and return parcels since access to lockers are around the clock. Waiting for deliveries are negated.

Additionally, there will be enhanced efficiency and greater environmental sustainability with aggregated deliveries to locker stations. Rather than making deliveries to multiple homes, the one-stop delivery process’ minimises the impact on the environment.

For now, the Lockers will be installed at Punggol and Bukit Panjang in HDB blocks and MRT station. In Punggol, SingPost will install 39 lockers across HDB blocks and four MRT stations: Punggol, Sengkang, Buangkok and Hougang. In Bukit Panjang town, blu will install 23 locker sites in the HDBs and four sites at the Bukit Panjang, Chinese Garden, Lakeside and Boon Lay MRTs.

All lockers are located within 250m of HDB blocks. The additional lockers at MRT stations aim to further supplement the locker network within towns.

On top of receiving their deliveries, consumers can also return packages via the lockers in the HDB towns. IMDA will evaluate the viability of adding more sites in Singapore in due course.

Present at the launch was Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Transport, Dr Janil Puthucheary. He reiterated that with the growing e-commerce trend, there is strong demand for urban logistics solutions that leverage technology to solve the last-mile delivery challenge and satisfy consumer expectations. He also added that the initiative will enable industry players to collaborate to reach more locations and customers.

A total of fifteen logistics firms and industry partners are collaborating on the Locker Alliance pilot.

The Locker Alliance will also look beyond Singapore’s shores. Dr Puthucheary announced that IMDA has signed a Memorandum of Intent with three regional locker operators – Thailand’s Box 24, Hong Kong’s Pakpobox and Indonesia’s Popbox Asia. These operators have locker infrastructures in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau and Malaysia. The MOI explores developing a regional locker alliance to support uplifting the last-mile delivery capabilities in the region.

From the MOI, new opportunities for retailers and e-commerce marketplaces will be creates. The interoperable platforms will be critical to facilitate deliveries across borders, surpassing customer expectations. Hence, even last-mile fulfilment service providers may scale up their businesses in the region without establishing a physical, in-country presence.

Under a three-year period, the MOI will cover the engagement of local stakeholders to drive adoption. IMDA will work with other participating locker operators and stakeholders to adopt TR61. There will also be collaboration within the industry, and active contribution to the enhancement of the platform’s standards.

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