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Locker for logistics provider QikPod raises $9M; Will Flipkart’s offline centres help?


QikPod, a startup which aims to set up a network of fully automated self serve lockers in residential buildings, offices, cafes and kirana stores for delivery of goods ordered from e-commerce companies, has raised a little over $9 million (Rs 60 crore) from Foxconn, Accel Partners, Flipkart and Delivery, reports ET. The Bangalore based company will use the funds to build its automated lockers, for hiring and technology.

Launched by Ravi Gururaj this year, QikPod is building an internet of things (IoT) logistics platform which aims at improving efficiency, convenience and security of last mile delivery operations. QikPod will also come into play while returning ecommerce orders. It will combine the IoT lockers (provided by Foxconn) with a logistics system on the backend, which will handle one third to half of the parcels shipped across India’s metros.

It plans to build a parcel locker network of over 50,000 lockers across metro cities in the country. The service is apparently free for consumers and sites which can install and host a locker, and will charge courier companies per use. Gururaj told ET that QikPod will help in reducing carbon emissions through shorter and fewer delivery routes. For example, for Flipkart and Delhivery, QikPod will lessen or avoid the costs of re-delivering a package when its customers are not present at the time of delivery, while for Delhivery, it could push up to 10% of its shipments through the parcel network.

The lockers will be have a host of sensors and cameras connected to the cloud to verify the identity of the person withdrawing the parcels. Alternatively, users can also swipe their cards like a point of sale on a swipe sensor; while kirana store owners will also be able to take the cash for the parcel and release a code to open the locker.

Similar developments:

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Flipkart’s offline stores: In July, Flipkart had launched 20 offline centres across 10 cities in India, with its logistics partner Ekart, where users could pick up their products. Flipkart said that it ventured into this supply chain because some of its users were unavailable during delivery time; and planned to offer value added services like instant returns, spot trials, open box deliveries and product demos to the centres in the near future. It said it would establish 100 such centres by March 2016. It is unclear if Flipkart will lease this space to QikPod or continue to operate it independently under its own banner.

Amazon Pickup Store: Amazon’s solution basically lets its users pick up their products from an array of neighbourhood stores in the city, at a time of their convenience. A user simply needs to go to the store closest to their house, present an ID and sign the document to take their parcel. It is available across 45 cities in India and also offers cash on delivery as the payment option.
(Related reads: You can now pick up Amazon shipments from kirana stores in Bangalore; Amazon extends ATSL services to India to provide end-to-end logistics)

Roadrunnr Mailbox: In October, Roadrunnr, the hyperlogistics company, which raised $11 million from Sequoia, Nexus Venture Partners, and Blume Ventures in July, launched a Mailbox service which would let ecommerce users collect their packages or have them delivered. Mailbox was launched to solve missed deliveries and uses a network of existing stores, while tying up with new stores, in a 2-3 km radius to store packages in lockers. It aimed to bring down the cost of re-delivery from 20% to 4% and is available in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Blue Dart lockers: In the same month, courier company Blue Dart opened up a locker system where users would be able to pick up their parcels from, and claimed to have 40% of revenue share of the entire e-tailers’ logistics market.

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